Iceland review - 2002, Blaðsíða 66

Iceland review - 2002, Blaðsíða 66
64 ICELAND REVIEW In Perfect Harmony Fish forms the basis of the Icelandic economy. Anna Margrét Björnsson spoke to the Minister of Fisheries, Árni M. Mathiesen, about sustainable utilisation of the ocean’s resources and the new fishing technologies Iceland has to offer. Iceland is the third largest fishing nation in Europe, with 72 percent of the value of the country’s exported goods coming from fish. Iceland is in 13th place on the FAO list of fish catches for all of the world’s fishing nations, quite an achievement for a popula- tion barely reaching 300,000 people. Could Iceland be considered a leader when it comes to fishing? “The development of the fishing industry this century has been very rapid, and those involved in the industry have realised that they must always seek new methods,” explains Minister of Fisheries, Árni M. Mathiesen. “The same applies here, in this sparsely populated land, as elsewhere, that ways must always be sought in the develop- ment of new methods and in adapting fish products to the demands of consumers worldwide. Due to their proximity to an effective fishing industry, the Icelandic firms are amongst the leaders in finding new technological solutions.” Enjoying internationally established con- tacts, Icelandic companies are in an excel- lent position to establish trade connections in marketing all kinds of seafood, world- wide. “Icelandic seafood exporters have managed to establish themselves at the top of the market through their reputation for outstanding quality of raw material and pro- cessing standards,” says Mathiesen. “Rapid advances in Icelandic fisheries have been accompanied by the development of manu- facturing and service industries that draw on a long history of experience in the practical needs of fishing and fish processing opera- tions. Among the leading fields are software products, electronic and digital equipment, such as scales for on-board as well as land- based weighing, and process control and graders for landed or even live fish. A wide selection of tubs, boxes and packaging, for handling storage and retail of fresh and frozen products, are made in Iceland, as well as trawls, nets, trawl doors and fishing boars, safety equipment and protective clothing. Icelandic manufacturers have designed and installed many processing plants around the world for companies, ranging from vessel owners to industrial food processors.” The quota system Icelanders recognised, at the beginning of last century, that their great wealth of marine resources was not without limit. They began their campaign to gain sover- eignty of the country’s fishing grounds in order to prevent excessive fishing from for- eign fleets, a campaign which lasted three quarters of a century. Since its satisfactory conclusion in 1976, Icelanders have had to adjust their own fishing efforts to the pro- ductive capacity of the fishing resources and their sustainable utilisation. “In Icelandic fisheries management, annual total allowable catch is decided upon by recommendations from the Marine Research Institute,” explains Mathiesen. “This is based on a system of transferable I N T E R V I E W : M I N I S T E R O F F I S H E R I E S 61 IR302 - Iceland Businesbs-rm 2.9.2002 13:37 Page 64
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