Iceland fishing fleet earnings up by six per cent last year –

Iceland fishing fleet earnings up by six per cent last year Published:  25 February, 2013

ICELAND’S fishing fleet is continuing to underpin the country’s economic recovery with an encouraging increase in earnings last year.

New figures show that the value of the catch in the first eleven months of 2012 (January to November) totalled 152.2 billion kroners (ISK) – or £788.6 million in sterling. This represents an increase of six per cent on the corresponding period in 2011.

The value of demersal (groundfish) species such as cod and haddock totalled ISK 89.7 million (£467 million), an increase of 2.6 per cent on the previous period. Pelagic fish such as mackerel and herring brought in ISK 46.3 billion ( £239 million), an increase of nine per cent over 2011. With these  earnings it is easy to see why Iceland wants to hold onto the large mackerel quota it has given itself.

As a single species cod was by the far the biggest earner at ISK 45.9 billion (£243 million), an increase of 8.6 per cent. Haddock catches, which mostly go to the UK,  have been hit by lower quotas in the past 12 months and is not the attraction it once was.

Nevertheless haddock catches brought in ISK 11.5 billion (£59- million), just over five per cent more than in the previous year. With the collapse of whitefish prices in the last few months it seems unlikely if 2013 will produce anything like the same level of increase for whitefish. The value of flatfish catches was ISK 9.7 billion (£50 million), up by 3.5 per cent.

Overall, the figures would seem to be more than encouraging and they again demonstrate the strategic importance of fishing to the Iceland economy. But cod and haddock prices are on the floor at the moment and are not likely to recover for a while. Secondly, the Icelandic fishing industry and the Icelandic Government are at war with each other over proposed reforms to the quota system which is not good for a country so dependent on this industry. A general election is set for April and analysts predict a change of  government which the fishing industry may find more agreeable.