Value of Iceland fish farming grows –

Value of Iceland fish farming grows Published:  03 November, 2010

FISH farming is now worth around £20 million a year to the Iceland economy, according to the latest official figures.

While it is hardly a huge amount when compared  to the value of wild caught fish, it is gradually increasing and taking on a new importance especially as there is now new pressure on quotas.

About two thirds of production is exported with the United States the chief market and Arctic Charr the main export species. The manager of the national Association of Fish Farmers in Iceland, Mr Gudbergur Runarsson, told the country’s newspaper Morgunbladid that demand for farmed fish was “brisk and was, in fact, exceeding supply”.

Certainly Icelandic companies have been buying up aquaculture businesses in other parts of the world recently, most notably in Mexico and the Adriatic region of Europe.

The expectation is that production will grow to around 10,000 tons in the next few years. There are currently around 45 registered fish farms in Iceland, with salmon rearing and mussel farms taking on a new importance. Fish farmers are also experimenting with high value species such as turbot and cod.

And work is going on with warm water fish such as tilapia, sometimes labelled “the chicken of the sea”.

Earlier this year it was reported that at least one company had signed a declaration of intent last week on launching warm water fish farming at Flúdir, which is part of the development of energy-intensive food production in the area. Stefanía Katrín Karlsdóttir, representative of Íslensk matorka, said at the time that tilapia breeding offered extensive opportunities. They are interested in working with domestic grain farmers on producing fodder for the fish.

Meanwhile, the Islandsbanki reported back in the summer that farmed fish exports from Iceland could exceed £25 million annually in the next few years.