Icelandic line boats catching less cod –

Icelandic line boats catching less cod Published:  16 November, 2007

NEW figures from Iceland show that this summer’s cod quota reduction is biting hard into the country’s fishing economy.

The new fishing season started on September 1 and ten weeks on Icelandic long-line fishing boats have caught 2,000 tons less cod over the same period in 2006. The drop in the cod catch totals 45 percent, from 4,912 tons in 2006 to 2,718 tons this year.

These line vessels supply much of the fresh or chilled cod bought by leading UK supermarkets such as Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s.

However, there was better news on haddock with figures showing that the catch is similar to the catch in 2006, at around 5,547 tons, according to preliminary numbers from the Directorate of Fisheries. The figures also show that different types of fishing vessels have also experienced a drastic drop in cod fishing; with their current catch only half as much as in 2006. A few weeks ago three of Iceland’s largest fishing companies bought a large chunk of cod quota from the Russians to help make up the losses in their own fishing grounds. And elsewhere fishing companies have either been forced to lay up vessels, reducing output at some coastal factories with resulting job losses.

All this is feeding through into higher prices. During the last two months the average price of cod in Iceland´s fresh fish markets was 24.9 percent higher than a year ago. As was feared at receiving centres like Grimsby a few weeks ago, these changes are feeding through into other species. Haddock up by five per cent per cent, saithe up 8.5 per cent, and ocean catfish up 12.5 per cent.

While the cod quota changes take the main share of the blame, another reason for increased auction prices is poor weather which has hampered fishing, according to the fisheries magazine Fiskifrettir.

Fiskifrettir also reports that fishing and marine related products are accounting for a diminishing proportion of Iceland’s total export effort. In 1999, marine products accounted for almost 70 per cent of Iceland’s visible exports, whereas aluminium made up just 15 per cent of overseas sales.

But next year each category is expected to account for about 40 percent of export revenue. The estimate is that in 2009, the share of aluminium will be close to 50 per cent and the share of marine products around 40 per cent, reflecting a fundamental change in Iceland’s economy. 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.