Icelandic Fisheries Laboratories
Skulagata 4, 101 Reykjavik, Iceland
Source - Journal of Northwest Atlantic Fishery Science, Volume 23: 233-249
It is estimated that the marine fisheries are presently at its full potential, i.e. 82-83 million tons per year. As wild fish select their own food they provide the most natural source of animal protein available to mankind. Yet, there is significant potential in better utilization of the marine resources. One third of the ocean catch, or 27 million tons, is discarded at sea every year, fish material that could be processed in various ways. Also, the processing industry can improve yields, use more of the "fish waste" not to mention improving quality of products. The fish processing industry is unique in the way how its raw material is obtained. In most cases fishermen compete with one another to get as much fish as possible from a common source and the raw material is free of charge. This leads to a "quantity mentality" that impairs development of the industry in terms of utilisation and quality of products. The Icelandic economy is highly dependent on fisheries as some 54% of her currency earnings come from fish exports even though only 11% of the workforce is engaged in fisheries and fish processing. In 1984 all the major fish stocks were subjected to individual quotas and in 1990 the quotas were made transferable between vessels. Today over 90% of the landed fish by value is subject to this system. The objective of the management system is to minimize the cost of catching and processing and to maximize the value of the catch. Increased confidence in the scientific advice on state of the resource coupled with firm fisheries control seems to be affecting the fish processing industry in a very positive way. Companies have been restructuring and specializing their processing and marketing. Many private companies have been merging, opening up to new shareholders and being registered on the stock market. Catching is getting more even throughout the year and there are several indicators that quality of the fish is improving due to better handling. Introduction of sophisticated technologies has cut cost. Vision technology and computerized systems are increasingly being used for producing high value products and monitoring quality and yields. Many companies are making an effort in product development, in marketing unconventional species and producing foods from "fish waste". Sound scientific knowledge on the fish stocks coupled with firm management seems to be turning the industry mentality from hunting into mariculture. Given the right institutional and economic framework the fish processing industry will make quality products from all catches - including by-catches and "fish waste".
Language - English
Publisher - Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO), Dartmouth, N.S., Canada
Publication Date - October 1998
Publication Type - Journal Article