ICELAND should look to the success of fish farming in Scotland and other neighbouring countries as a benchmark for the future development of its own aquaculture sector, fishing industry chiefs heard recently.
Jens Garðar Helgason, chairman of the Icelandic Confederation of Fisheries Companies, which has included fish farming firms since January, told his organisation’s annual meeting that within a few years, exports of salmon could match or be worth more than those of cod, the country’s best known seafood commodity.
For this reason alone, it was vital, he added, that Iceland developed a successful aquaculture sector.
He said: ‘Our neighbouring countries Scotland, Norway and the Faroe islands, have already taken advantage of the same opportunities to build up a power aquaculture industry in their own countries.’
The development of fish farming in Iceland, he maintained, was a knowledge based activity, taking place without government assistance.
Yet it was helping to restore prosperity to many rural economies, along with increasing the nation’s export revenues.
Helgason expressed his disappointment at a new bill before the Althingi, Iceland’s parliament, which threatens environmental taxes and restrictions on the industry.
Iceland’s fishing organisations had a good story to tell on the environment and had always put it at the forefront of their priorities, he argued.
Ólafur Elínarson, director of market research at Gallup in Iceland, told the same conference, that people were prepared to pay more for seafood that was both healthy and environmentally sustainable and this fitted well with Iceland’s reputation.