Marine industry 30% of Iceland’s GDP
The so-called Icelandic ocean cluster, which includes fisheries, seafood processing, ocean technology, biotechnology, aquaculture and related service sectors, generates 25 to 30 percent of the country’s GDP and 15 to 20 percent of its employment.
A report by the Iceland Ocean Cluster found that 2013 was marked by a considerable upsurge in investments in the fisheries industry, increased exports of fresh seafood, continued growth in the marine technology sector, growing demand for marine related education, a lively ocean biotech sector, increased whitefish catches and a reduction in pelagic fish catches. Many of these trends are expected to continue.
Economist Haukur Gestsson, one of the report authors, said increased investments in fisheries give signals about increased value creation and raw material utilization.
“After having improved balance sheets considerably since 2008, fisheries have started making heavy investments in new and improved fishing vessels,” Gestsson said. “While representing improved financials, these investments also signify a trend towards more seafood being processed on land as opposed to at sea, which brings opportunities for better raw material utilization. Since 2008, jobs in fish processing on land have increased 67 percent while jobs in fishing have decreased 15 percent.”
Gestsson added that the trend of consolidation in the fisheries industry is continuing. One of Iceland's largest seafood businesses, HB Grandi, recently went public with others are expected to follow.
The ocean technology sector is one of Iceland's fastest growing industries and has grown by 10-15 percent annually since 2008.
"Last year it grew 12 percent as a whole, with fish processing technology and packaging technology growing fastest. Many of these businesses are becoming quite strong and have increased their international operations substantially," said economist and co-author Bjarki Vigfusson.
Raw material utilization of fish catches continues to increase as well as export value per kilogram of catch. Around Iceland, these catches are being processed into fresh, frozen, canned and dried food, oils, meal, ingredients, supplements, cosmetics and even medicinal products.