Icelandic fishing fleet’s annual earnings soar as catches rise

Published on
August 26, 2019

Almost 1.26 million metric tons (MT) of fisheries products were caught by the Icelandic fishing fleet last year, an increase of 6.7 percent or 79,025 MT, and the total first-sale value of that catch rose 15.6 percent to almost ISK 128 billion (USD 1 billion, EUR 924.7 million), according to figures gathered by Statistics Iceland. 

The largest contributor to these increases was the demersal sector, which saw its catch increase by 12 percent in volume, or 51,341 MT, to 480,224 MT. The value of these landings climbed 17.9 percent to ISK 90.8 billion (USD 726.4 million, EUR 656 million). 

Cod increased by 8.7 percent in volume to 275,017 MT, and its value was 16.2 percent higher at ISK 57.4 billion (USD 459.2 million, EUR 414.9 million). There were also larger haddock (48,459 MT) and saithe (66,250 MT) catches, with their respective earnings up to ISK 10.6 billion (USD 84.8 million, EUR 76.6 million) and ISK 7.9 billion (USD 63.2 million, EUR 57.1 million). While the redfish volume decreased slightly in volume to 57,989 MT, the first sale value increased to ISK 10.2 billion (USD 81.6 million, EUR 73.7 million). 

There were also larger volumes and values achieved by the flatfish, shellfish and pelagic categories. Iceland’s flatfish catch totaled 27,090 MT (up 23.6 percent), valued at almost ISK 10.2 billion (USD 81.9 million, EUR 73.7 million), up 35.6 percent, while its shellfish landings amounted to 12,498 MT (up 18.3 percent) of products worth ISK 2.6 billion (USD 20.8 million, EUR 18.8 million), up 7.2 percent. Iceland’s main flatfish species are Greenland halibut and plaice, while lobster and shrimp are its main shellfish.

Within the country’s pelagic catch of 738,739 MT (up 2.9 percent) valued at ISK 24.4 billion (USD 195.1 million, EUR 176.2 million), an increase of 2.6 percent, the herring landings decreased 12.6 percent to 40,460 MT and the spring-spawning increased 3.7 percent to 83,445 MT. These achieved first sales values of ISK 1.4 billion (USD 11.2 million, EUR 10.1 million), down 14.5 percent, and ISK 3.3 billion (USD 26.4 million, EUR 23.8 million), up 14.2 percent, respectively. 

The Atlantic mackerel volume fell 18.1 percent to 135,559 MT, with an 11.9 percent lower value of ISK 7.5 billion (USD 60 million, EUR 54.1 million), while the blue whiting catch of 292,949 MT (a 28 percent increase) was worth almost ISK 6.4 billion (USD 51.1 million, EUR 46.2 million), a 56.1 percent increase.

Meanwhile, according to preliminary data collected by the Iceland’s Directorate of Fisheries, its fleet landed 94,567 MT of fish and shellfish last month, which was 1 percent more than in July 2018. However, only the demersal category showed any volume increase.

July’s demersal catch of 38,412 MT was 11 percent higher than a year previously, while the flatfish, shellfish and pelagic landings totaled all fell. Flatfish decreased 47 percent to 1,906 MT, shellfish decreased 20 percent to 1,533 MT, and pelagic landings decreased 2 percent to 52,716 MT. 

Within the demersal category, the cod catch was up 8 percent to 21,340 MT. Also, landings of haddock (3,882 MT), saithe (6,029 MT) and redfish (4,910 MT) increased by 9 percent, 21 percent and 6 percent respectively.

The authority’s figures also confirmed that the total August 2018 to July 2019 catch amounted to less than 1.1 million MT, which was down 16 percent year-on-year. Within this total, there was a 3 percent increase in the demersal catch to 492,898 MT, but the landings of flatfish (24,251 MT), shellfish (11,132 MT) and pelagics (553,075 MT) were down 8 percent, 2 percent and 28 percent respectively. 

Image courtesy of Statistics Iceland. 

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

 Twitter at @SeafoodGuruSome

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