Grimsby fish mission upbeat after Iceland visit –

Grimsby fish mission upbeat after Iceland visit Published:  12 May, 2008


A GRIMSBY civic and business mission has returned from Iceland confident it can build new fishing and trade links.

The delegation spent four days in the northern sea port of Akureyri where the two towns have similar interests, founded on their respective fishing industries. Eventually, it is hoped that the new relationship will lead to a full town twinning agreement.

Iceland supplies more than 60 per cent of fish sold on the Grimsby market and processed in local seafood factories and, without it, they would cease to function.

The delegation said it found a fishing industry in Iceland that was still full of confidence despite the big cod quota cut and the impact of the global economic turmoil.

Colin Bulger, assistant chief executive of North East Lincolnshire (Grimsby ) Council, said the visit was both positive and successful. He said there were real positibilites of closer ties between the new Humber Seafood Institute and Akureryi’s university, which carries out seafood research work.

The delegation was led by Keith Brookes, Conservative leader on the council, who felt it was time Grimsby buried old Cod War feelings and explored opening new links with Iceland.

He said: “The idea came after a meeting with the Icelandic Ambassador in Britain. At first a district in Reykjavik was suggested, but Hull is already twinned with that city and then Akureyri came up and we are glad it did.”

A delegation led by the Mayor of Akureyri, Sigrun Bjork Jakobsdottir visited Grimsby fishing facilities last year and it was decided then that the two towns should explore developing new trade links.

The Grimsby mission were taken on a tour of the Samherji fish processing factory which supplies much of the raw material for the Grimsby seafood industry. The company also has a fish processing operation based in Grimsby through Ice Fresh Seafood.

But Coun Brookes said it was also developing its own range of fish products and its customers included major UK retailers like Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Tesco.

Coun Brookes said: “The owner of the company is a former trawler skipper who used to make regular visits to Grimsby in the old days and he spoke warmly of his time in the port.”

Peter Everett, Grimsby area chairman of the Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce, said: “The cod quota cut is obviously a major issue in Iceland. But Samherji, which has a large fishing fleet, is taking a very positive approach. The company has its own chef developing new species of fish for the market and is exploring new fishing opportunities in other parts of the world, such as off the coast of Africa.

“In fact I was struck by how confident everyone was in Akureryi in spite of all the economic issues. More than 80 per cent of the people who leave to work in other parts of the world eventually come back to re-settle in their home town.” He thought that Grimsby firms could provide fishing back up services in areas like refrigeration and factory engineering maintenance.

He added that the Icelandic people were now involved in a major debate over whether their country should join the EU, with the main worry over its future fishing interests. is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.