For many decades, the herring industry was one of the most important industries in the Icelandic nation, and entire communities relied on herring every year. Although there was more talk about catches, huge investments, slack, bankruptcy, collapse and the impact of herring on human life, rather than know-how and product quality, it was the knowledge that made the difference in prices and markets.
In the beginning, the knowledge came from outside, but gradually it became a work skill that made Icelandic processed herring sought after and valuable. Manufacturers and retailers took good care of the knowledge and made sure that it did not fall into the hands of foreign competitors, thereby damaging the competitive position of Icelandic producers.
Manufacturers had harmonized production instructions and unreservedly supported research at the Fisheries Research Institute, while at the same time pursuing strong product development and various experimental activities. The knowledge and skills are then reflected in detailed production instructions issued by SÚN (Herring Industry Committee) and distributed to producers all over the country.
Dr. Jónas Bjarnason, a chemical engineer who worked at the Fisheries Research Institute, worked diligently to disseminate knowledge to producers of Icelandic seafood. He was responsible, for example, for publishing manuals on the effects of salted fish and catfish, as well as various publications on important aspects of the production of seafood.
Around 1990, Dr. Jónas mostly finished writing a handbook on the effect of herring, but it was not considered in the interests of the whole to publish all this detailed information that Jónas had compiled, and therefore the material appeared in IFL's archive system.
This handbook that is published here is for the most part based on Jónas' material and it must be admitted that it was easier to embark on this work with all this material at hand, systematically set up and full of pictures with captions.
There have been enormous changes in the product composition of the herring since Jónas wrote his handbook, but then about 2/3 of the exported herring products were salted herring, but in recent years herring is processed at about 1% of the total amount. The knowledge presented here is perhaps still valuable as a result, as it is important to maintain the knowledge, even though it may be of use to fewer parties than was initially intended.