Responsible Fisheries in Iceland

One of the most important industries in Iceland is the Fishing Industry. With a responsible fisheries management system and an industry-wide focus on technological solutions aimed at improving utilization rates of the seafood catch.


Quota System: Sustainable Fisheries Management

The Icelandic Quota System is one of the world’s most successful fisheries management system. The system is governed by the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute (MFRI), a government agency that provides scientific advice based on its own research on marine and fish stocks in Icelandic waters.

Based on MFRI research, the Minister of Industry & Innovation decides the catch limits for each year for the stock of each species within the Icelandic fisheries management system. By law, all catch is weighed by accredited harbour officials and registered in the central database of the Directorate of Fisheries.

The fisheries in Iceland are all privatized companies. Each fishery has a catch quota, meaning that the fishery is entitled to set fraction of the total allowed catch for a given stock. The biggest fishery in Iceland, based on total quota, is HB Grandi. The company controls about 11% of the total quota. HB Grandi is one of three publicly-traded Icelandic Seafood Companies, listed on the Icelandic Stock Exchange.

Improving Safety at Sea

2017 was only the 4th year in history with no fatalities at sea at Icelandic fisheries. With bigger and more technologically advanced fishing vessels, the fishing industry has been recording steadily decreasing rates in injuries and fatalities amongst seamen.

Preacausinalry and safety measures, such as training and education on safety issues amongst fishermen has also benefitted the industry and improved the overall safety on fishing vessels.

Modern Fishing Equipment

The fishing industry of Iceland has technologically advanced fishing vessels, equipped with gear for the various types of fishing. Factors such as the type of seabed, species sought, depth of water require different types of techniques.

Modern and fuel-saving equipment is now being used known as ‘T90 bottom trawls’. Some gears that don’t affect the environment in a negative way are also being opted longlines, handlines and gillnets.

Ecosystem Protection

Many different types of measures to ensure that the small fish are protected are being taken by the fish industries of Iceland. Some of the special measures include the usage of small fish sorting grids and rules on minimum mesh size. If the digital monitoring system shows that the limit of catching small fish has exceeded, the area is restricted or closed for a short period of time by the Institute.

Iceland Responsible Fisheries

The Iceland Responsible Fisheries Certification Programme is common sense, practical and cost-effective approach for Icelandic fisheries to meet the  Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) criteria for credible certification.

The main purpose of the programme is to:

  • Preserve the fisheries management principles adopted by the international community
  • Document well-managed Icelandic fisheries to the highest level of assurance
  • Promote community consensus behind good discipline in fisheries management
  • Offer our customers a choice in certification

Stakeholders in the Icelandic fisheries value chain can apply for the Responsible Fisheries Management Chain of Custody certification.

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