Icelandic fisheries still going strong
World Fishing: What are the main changes this year to other editions of the show?
Marianne Rasmussen-Coulling: Following the 2005 event it became apparent that a large number of exhibitors wanted the exhibition to run over three days. Also, by moving the event to October the hotels would be charging winter rates, which would result in significant savings - on average 25%. A survey was conducted with our exhibitors and a clear majority voted for a three day event running from Thursday to Saturday in the early part of October.
Also we are very pleased with the overseas interest in the exhibition this time. Iceland still remains a target for companies around the world and because of the consistency and strength of the industry. Overall Iceland has demonstrated that by careful management of both its fishing industry and fish stocks it is possible to have a sustainable industry. This strong position within the world of commercial fishing coupled with the current exchange rate has increased overseas interest.
We are delighted to introduce first-time exhibitors including vessel builders from Canada and Latvia, trawl and netting companies from Russia and Portugal, as well as electronic companies from Canada and packaging and processing companies from Denmark. As always several country groups will also be attending the exhibition including the old veterans from Denmark and the Faroe Islands. Norway is returning with a big group this time so is Great Britain. And for the very first time we can welcome groups from the regions of Brittany in France and Galicia in Spain.
Finally we have been working on a programme to bring in more quality visitors from overseas and have already had confirmation from fleet managers/processors from New Zealand, South Africa, Russia and Norway.
WF: What makes the Icelandic Fisheries Exhibition different from other exhibitions taking place around the world?
MRC: First and foremost the huge importance of the fishing industry to the country's economy. Secondly the three-year cycle. If you look at the Iceland and Vigo (World Fishing Exhibition) shows both are giving exhibitors the chance to develop new products between events. Also, by allowing more years between shows it also gives the companies a chance to spread their investments, making exhibitions the most cost-effective marketing investments. Visitors are pulled rather than pushed to the exhibition - they know they will be visiting an event with many new innovations and the show itself looks fantastic because companies are investing heavily in the design of their stands. It is a win/win situation for everyone.
WF: How do you see the Icelandic fisheries industry at the moment?
MRC: Still going strong, and still being run very responsibly. The reduction in cod quotas last year was a necessary measure to sustain the stocks, but then Iceland has joined the programme of Nordic cod farming which is in its fourth year and could take the industry to a new level. Like any other nation in the world, Iceland is feeling the credit crunch, but the exchange rate is making it very cost effective for overseas companies and visitors to come to the show this autumn.
It is amazing that a small nation of only 300,000 inhabitants is ranked 13th in the world's catching nations. In 2005 it reached 1.7 million tonnes. 53% of its total exports come from fish or fish related products. You could argue that this percentage has been declining over the years, but this is simply because the overall exports have increased dramatically thanks to tourism and the financial sector. The Icelandic fishing industry is still very strong and the value of its exports has been increasing year on year.
WF: What do you think Iceland has to offer to the rest of the world in terms of fishing?
MRC: Fantastic innovations in technology and machinery, but then again this is hardly surprising when you are looking at a nation whose entire economy depends so heavily on fishing. Another factor is Icelandic knowledge of controlling and sustaining this industry. Icelandic fishing companies welcome foreign investments but by law the majority shares have to be kept within Iceland to hold the control.
WF: Which part of the fishing industry has shown more interest in the show?
MRC: It would be wrong to single out any sector. The exhibition has exhibitors covering the entire spectrum of fishing from shipyards to the electronic companies supplying the locating equipment, trawls, ropes, nets and winches for the catching, boxes, refrigeration equipment for the storage - the handling in the harbour/on land, to seafood traders right through to the services and finance sector.
WF: Are there any other events taking place around the exhibition?
MRC: There will be a very topical conference on Cod Farming in the Nordic Countries, which will run just prior to the exhibition, allowing attendees to stay on and visit the show. Details can be found at www.icefish.is
Thursday morning will see the opening of the Icelandic Fisheries Exhibition. The Minister of Fisheries, Einar K Guðfinnsson, will inaugurate the exhibition in the presence of the President, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, the Mayor of Kopavogur, Gunnar Birgisson, VIP's, exhibitors and the press. The official opening will be followed by a tour around the exhibition.
The Awards Reception will take place in the evening in the New Tower in Kopavogur, which is Iceland's tallest building. It will be hosted by the Minister of Fisheries and the Mayor of Kopavogur and the cocktail reception will be held in the panoramic top floor of the Tower. The Awards aspect of the evening will be been sponsored by Iceland's biggest bank, Landsbanki. Thirteen awards will be presented in a short 30 minute ceremony to Icelandic and international individuals and companies.
Friday night is the exhibition's Party Night. It is a totally new concept with the theme of 'Jazz in the deep blue sea'. Following an elaborate seafood buffet, there will be a short presentation determining the winners of the best stands at the show. Once this is done the guest will be able to dance the night away to Iceland's most popular band, Bogomilfont. This fantastic evening has been sponsored by Eimskip, the official freight carrier of the exhibition, and Landsbanki.
Full information on the exhibition or any of the events surrounding the show can be found at www.icefish.is