Iceland exported seafood valued at roughly ISK349 billion in 2002, according to provisional figures made available by Statistics Iceland.
In ISK terms, this is an 18% increase on 2021’s figures, and due to fluctuations in Iceland’s currency this increase can be calculated as 22% in foreign currency terms.
This means that this has been a record year for values of Icelandic seafood exports, even when adjusted for inflation. On the other hand, seafood has never before been such a low proportion of overall exports, and the value of its seafood is outweighed by revenue from aluminium and aluminium-related exports, which have increased substantially as both volumes and values of such products have risen.
Seafood accounts for around 35% of Iceland’s exports in 2002, compared to 39% in 2021.
Iceland’s fishing industry last year had its first large capelin season for some years, which was in fact one of the highest-value capelin seasons ever, despite the fleet failing to catch its full quota.
Exports of fishmeal and fish oil substantially increased in 2022 compared to the year before, and these two products accounted for approximately a fifth of seafood exports, and these have not been so prominent in export figures for more than forty years.
High prices for seafood on overseas markets had a marked effect, making up to some extent for the reduction on volumes of demersal species, cod in particular.
According to SFS, these increases can be attributed to the war in Ukraine. Prices had been increasing previously as markets improved and the effects of the Covid pandemic receded, but the uncertainty triggered by the invasion of Ukraine and the resulting sanctions led to prices rising even higher.
SFS states that export values alone are not an indicator of the state of the fishing sector, and the reduction in quotas for cod this year (2022-23) has presented challenges for producers in keeping production going and ensuring year-round employment.