The myth of the poor fisher: Evidence from the Nordic countries
A paper was recently published in Marine Policy where the income of coastal fishermen in Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Iceland were analysed and compared to other fishermen and other comparable sectors on land. The results showed that the myth of the poor fisher is to a large extent false, when looking at the Nordic coastal sector.
Fishers are often perceived to be poor, and low income levels are used to justify subsidies and other types of direct and indirect income support to maintain coastal communities. In this study fishers’ income levels are investigated in four Nordic countries; Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden for different types of fishers and vessels and in comparison to alternative occupations. The most important result is that fishers in these countries are doing relatively well, and only in Sweden is the fishers’ average income level below the average national income. Within the fleets, there are substantial differences. Owners of coastal vessels tend to have the lowest income, and also lower than crews. Owners as well as crews on larger vessels tend to do much better and in the largest fishing nations, Iceland and Norway, they do especially well.
The paper is available here.
Report published on “NORDIC COASTAL FISHERIES AND COMMUNITIES: Status and future prospects”
The Nordic Council of Ministers (TemaNord) recently published a report on Nordic coastal fisheries and communities. The report reviews the status of the fisheries and analyses potential future prospects within the sector in Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Newfoundland.
Coastal fisheries play a vital role in the marine sector of the Nordic countries and often serves as a backbone of the economy of smaller coastal communities. The coastal fleets usually have a big presence in smaller, more remote fishing villages, supplying local processing companies with raw material. The coastal sector is therefore highly important for regional development, as it represents a significant part of total landings and offers employment for a large number of fishermen, processors and other supporting industries. Urbanization and rapid technical developments in the fishing sector over the last few decades have however resulted in many coastal communities having to fight for their survival. While the coastal fishing sector is generally struggling to return profits, there are as well other challenges that coastal communities are faced with; such as different social structures, educational- and job opportunities and requirements towards a certain “quality of life” that are causing people to migrate from coastal communities to larger cities. This report reviews the coastal sectors in seven Nordic countries (Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Newfoundland), which include almost 20 thousand coastal vessels that are catching close to 900 thousand tonnes a year, valued at EUR 1.2 billion. The fleets are though highly variable, ranging from very basic traditional dinghies catching few kilos of fish each year to highly technical industrial vessels with annual catches exceeding 1,000 tonnes. The individual countries do as well have to deal with different challenges; and do each have their unique strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, which are discussed in the report.
Workshop on how Newfoundland is to build a fishery of the future when the Northern cod stock returns
The Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation (CCFI) hosted a two-day conference to learn more about the opportunities and the challenges the Newfoundland fisheries sector is faced with now that the norther cod stock is projected to be able to sustain catches of 150-250 thousand tonnes in the near future. Experts presented the latest information on the current and expected future state of the resource, the global markets for cod and other white-fleshed fish. Information on how other nations are harvesting, processing and marketing whitefish products were as well presented, and the current profile of the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery was discussed. Representatives from the “Coastal fisheries in the N-Atlantic” consortium were among the presenters, where they gave presentations on the Icelandic and Norwegian whitefish sector. Axel Helgason from NASBO did also give a presentation on the Icelandic coastal sector and how the Newfoundland small scale fleet could learn from the Icelandic sector. All presentations from the workshop are available on the CCFI webpage.
Mobile app to estimate how much ice is need to maintain quality of the catch
Matís has released an app for mobile phones that allows fishermen to estimate the amount of ice needed for cooling and storing fish, based on the volume of fish, ocean temperature, storage temperature and the number of days the fish is expected to be stored. The app is currently available in Icelandic, Danish, English, Faroese, Norwegian, Greenlandic, Spanish and even in the Basque language. The app can be downloaded from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=is.matis.isapp_v3&hl=en
Relatively good lumpfish season in Iceland 2013
In an interview with Fiskifrettir (Fishing News) on the 12th of September the CEO of NASBO (National Association of Small Boat Owners), Orn Palsson, published information on the 2013 lumpfish season in Iceland. The catch volumes were substantially lower than last year, with reduced allowed number of fishing days and nets. The prices of lumpfish roe´s are still low, but prices for the fish itself have increased.
There were 286 boats fishing lumpfish in Iceland 2013, with around 1000 fishermen involved. Reported landing were 8.491 barrels of roe´s, compared to 12.250 barrels last year. Fishing days per permit were reduced from 150 last year down to 100 this season. The fishermen though believe the lumpfish stock is just as strong as last year.
Lumpfish catches in Greenland were around the same as in Iceland and in Norway approximately 1.000 barrels were landed. Lumpfish catches in Newfoundland were on the other hand almost none existent this year.
World supply of lumpfish roes have decreased considerably, witch hopefully will help the fishermen to sell their catch for a reasonable price. Prices fell substantially last year and have not improved since. Barrels were sold for around € 617 each but price on the fish itself has increased. Fisherman are demanded to land the total catch and most of the fish is gutted in factories ashore. Estimated value of the lumpfish exported from Iceland to China is over € 1.9 million.
Regrettably there were some inventory of roe´s in the beginning of the fishing season, but most of it is sold now. Some inventory from this season is though unsold.
“All things considering this was a good lumpfish season, apart from the low market prices” said Orn, but a good market for the fish itself is promising for the industries’ future.
Icelandic coastal fishermen have developed a product and a market for frozen lumpfish
For decades, mainstay of Icelandic lumpfish fishermen have primarily landed lumpfish roes and discarded at sea other parts of their catch. The roes account for about 30% of the live weight of lumpfish, but the other 70% have not had any market value…until now. With a collective effort by the National Association of Small Boat Owners in Iceland (ASBO) and the fish-export company Tríton, a new product and a market for it has been developed. The export value of this “new product” was around 300 million IKR (1.9 million EUR) in 2012. This innovative effort has therefore managed to make value out of waste for Icelandic coastal fishermen. Further information available in the article Export value of lumpfish products from Iceland increase around 300 million IKR
Over six hundred vessels taking part in the yearly “Olympic” coastal fishery in Iceland. For the fifth year in a row, Icelandic coastal vessels using handline are now allowed to fish from a special “pot” in a competitive fishery. The fishing grounds are divided into four spatial areas and each area is allocated Total Allowable Catch for each month (Mai-August). Once the TAC is reached in an area for a given month the fishery is suspended until beginning of the following month. Each vessel is only allowed to land 650 kg per day and can at most stay out fishing for 14 hours per day. The fishery is closed over weekends (Friday to Monday). This system has proven to be a great success for fishermen owning small coastal vessels and has made the many small harbors around Iceland more lively during the summer months than before.
Extremely good catches among Icelandic coastal vessels in June http://www.aflafrettir.com/blog/2013/06/20/________________________________________/