Farmed salmon now Iceland’s second most valuable seafood export

Editorial Staff

Farmed salmon surpasses capelin in Icelandic export income

Farmed salmon has become Iceland’s second-largest source of export income from seafood, trailing only cod. Cod remains the dominant fish species in terms of foreign earnings, significantly surpassing all other species, whether fished or farmed in Iceland according to data from Fisheries Iceland, a federation of Icelandic seafood companies.

For decades, cod has been Iceland’s top fish species for export income, contributing ISK 136 billion ($979 million) to the economy last year.

Traditionally, capelin held the second position but was overtaken by farmed salmon in 2023. Farmed salmon generated ISK 37 billion ($266 million) in export income, compared to capelin’s ISK 32 billion ($230 million).

Fishing, particularly for species like capelin, is seasonal, with capelin only present in Icelandic waters during certain parts of the year. In contrast, salmon farming operates year-round. Despite its profitability, capelin fishing has seen significant fluctuations, with no quota issued in 2019 or 2020.

Between 2014 and 2021, open-net salmon farming in Icelandic waters expanded over tenfold, with annual production increasing from under 4,000 tonnes to nearly 45,000 tonnes.


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