Iceland's fleet counts cost of high fuel prices –

Iceland’s fleet counts cost of high fuel prices Published:  22 May, 2008

Haddock has not yet been affected by quota restrictions

ICELAND’S trawler owners have just issued new figures which show just how badly soaring fuel costs are hitting fishing fleets.

They say that the average cost of diesel for their vessels has now jumped to just over 20 per cent of total revenue. A decade ago the ratio was less than half that at just eight per cent.

While, it will vary slightly from country to country, and will depend and size and performance of the vessel, roughly the same proportion can be applied to the larger UK trawlers and those in Scotland in particular.

A spokesman for the National Association of Fishing Vessel Owners, Sveinn Hjortur Hjartarson, estimates total landed value in 2008 at between 699-786 million euros (between £560 million and £628 million sterling) and the total fuel cost is 157 million euros (£125 million sterling).

So far, both the vessel owners and fishermen have accepted that the high fuel costs are almost inevitable, although they may soon start looking towards the government for help if things get much worse.

Most expect prices to go on rising – all the predictions are that crude oil will hit $150 a barrel by the end of the year – and are hoping that there will be some increase in the cod quota this year to help cushion their problems.

The paradox is that Iceland, with its large geothermal assets is almost energy self sufficient on a domestic level.

It is the fishing fleet, so vital to the country’s economy which is suffering.

According to Mr Hjartarson, lower value species such as blue whiting and deepsea redfish are particularly hard hit and might even have to be abandoned.

The other gloomy news for the industry is that catches and catch values have been falling sharply.

According to statistics Iceland, in the first two months of 2008 the landed value of all Icelandic fishing vessels was 121 million euros – down by 30.4 per cent on the same period last year.

As to be expected, cod suffered a 20.8 per cent fall in value, although haddock catch values increased by 14.2 per cent.

So far, haddock has not been affected by catch restrictions. Britain, which mainly means the Humber, remains Iceland’s best market, taking over 27 per cent of the country’s total fish exports. 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.