(Reykjavik, Iceland: 14 Nov. 2014) A new report, published by the Iceland Ocean Cluster, describes last year’s economic impact and performance of the Icelandic ocean cluster, which includes fisheries, seafood processing, ocean technology, biotechnology, aquaculture and related service sectors. According to the report, the ocean industries generate 25-30% of Iceland’s gross domestic product and between 15-20% of employment.
Last year was marked by a considerable upsurge in investments in the fisheries industry, increased exports of fresh seafood products, 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, according to the report.
Moreover, many of these trends are expected to continue in the near future. Economist Haukur Gestsson, one of the report authors says 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,” he 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,” said Gestsson. “Since 2008, jobs in fish processing on land have increased 67% while jobs in fishing have decreased 15%.”
Furthermore, Gestsson said the trend of consolidation in the fisheries industry is continuing, with companies becoming fewer and larger each year. One of Iceland’s largest seafood businesses, HB Grandi recently went public and others are expected to follow in the coming months. The ocean technology sector is one of Iceland’s fastest growing industries and has grown by 10-15% annually since 2008. “Last year it grew 12% 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,” says economist Bjarki Vigfusson, co-author.
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. The marine biotechnology industry has been gaining traction for the past years and is expected to continue to expand in the coming years.
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