Improved utilization of marine catch




Sjöfn Sigurgísladóttir, Sveinn Margeirsson, Sigurjón Arason, Jónas R. Viðarsson

Supported by:

Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture


Sigurjón Arason

Chief Engineer

Improved utilization of marine catch

This report is prepared for the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture; and it is mainly intended as a contribution to the Ministry's work in reviewing the policy regarding the utilization of marine catch. The content of the report can be divided into two main components, i.e. in the first part, a status assessment is made of the utilization and value creation of cod catches with regard to sea freezing, land processing and container exports; but in the second part, an attempt is made to identify where the main opportunities are for improved utilization and increased value creation in the Icelandic catfish catch. When collecting data, the main catch and disposal reports of the Directorate of Fisheries and Statistics Iceland's export data for the years 2007 and 2008 were sought. however, the authors of the report recommend that this be done as soon as all the data is available. In 2008, Icelandic vessels caught about 151 thousand tonnes of cod (127 thousand tonnes gutted) from which 90 thousand tonnes of products were processed to a value of ISK 59.5 billion (fob). About 75% of the catch went to land processing, 20% was frozen at sea and over 5% was exported unprocessed in containers. The data show that there was a significant difference between utilization figures in land and sea production, i.e. fillet utilization, head utilization and utilization of by-products were significantly poorer in the freezer trawler fleet. Roughly estimated utilization in land processing was about 72% (mass ratio of raw materials and products compared to gutted) versus 44% in sea freezing. There may be various reasons for the fact that the utilization of catch from freezer vessels is much poorer than in land-based processing, but it is clear that there are significant opportunities to increase utilization of the freezer trawler fleet. As an example of where utilization could be increased, it can be mentioned, for example, that the head utilization of fillet freezer trawlers is generally 35.5%, while in fillet processing on land it is 22-30%; and the overwhelming majority of trawlers are also unable to bring their heads ashore. There are also various indications that it would be possible to bring more other by-products into the country than is currently the case, such as cuttings, marrow, liver, eggs, eggs, etc. Much has been achieved regarding utilization in land processing in recent months, but there are still opportunities for improvement. The greatest progress in improved utilization has taken place in the processing of cod products, but the utilization of by-products in the processing of other species has not been able to keep up, as most of the cod is being slaughtered. For example, there has been a satisfactory development in the last three years in liver canning, which has doubled in volume since 2006-2009. A large amount of fish is exported unprocessed in containers every year, but high fish prices in the markets in the UK and Germany mean that shipowners see greater hope of profit in sending the fish out of the country than selling it for domestic processing. It is possible to increase the export value of part of this catch by processing it here at home. Although improved utilization is important, it must not be forgotten that quantity and quality do not always go hand in hand, so it is no less important to maximize the proportion of products that go into the most expensive product categories. In order for this to be the case, proper handling and process management must be ensured throughout the entire value chain, as quality is maximized at all stages of fishing, processing and transport.

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