Iceland salmon exports soar as new aqua bill approved

THE value of Icelandic farmed fish exports have jumped by 71 per cent to 8.6 billion kroner – or £54-million – during the first four months of this year, new figures show.

The announcement comes as Iceland’s parliament, the Althing, approved a new bill on the future of the industry which includes a number of amendments. The exports success reflects the growing confidence within the sector, which has built itself up slowly under highly stringent conditions,  that it is now set to play a key role in the future economy of the country.

The Confederation of Icelandic Fishery Companies (SFS) said farmed fish (mainly salmon) now represented 10 per cent of all seafood exports, remarkable in  a country which is renowned  for  its  huge focus on conventional deep sea fishing.

SFS said: “The ratio has never been higher. Looking ahead we can safely assume that aquaculture exports will reach ISK 25 billion (around £160-million) this year.  It is therefore clear that aquaculture is establishing itself as an important export industry, which is attracting  a great deal of foreign currency to the country. ”

April was the best month with overseas sales reaching ISK 2-billion, an increase of 137 per cent on the same month a year ago. Sales are also thought to have been helped by the recent depreciation of the kroner.

Meanwhile, SFS has said it is too early to tell what impact the new parliamentary bill, which includes areas where fish farming can and cannot be carried out,  will have on the future development of aquaculture. But it was clear the industry still had much work to do in presenting its case.

Jens Garðar Helgason, managing director of Laxa Aquaculture and Chairman of SFS, said that the association has made out forward various suggestions to be included in the draft bill, while pointing out that tens of billions of kroner have already been invested into an industry that was now becoming a major pillar of the Icelandic economy.