The Iceland Ocean Cluster’s mission is to create value and discover new opportunities by connecting entrepreneurs, businesses and knowledge in the marine industries.

The IOC introduces educational app for kids

trillan-2The Iceland Ocean Cluster has introduced a new website and an app “Trillan” to educate young school children about the ocean and its resources.

“This all started with a cluster group of eight schools in Iceland. After brainstorming about most important issues to address regarding the ocean, the group decided that more educational material was needed for children. We initially received sponsorship from Islandsbanki and TM Insurance and later from Icelandic munipalities and the Iceland Pelagic Fund. We are very please to introduce this app and glad to show how the cluster work – connecting people – is steadily bearing fruit”, says dr. Thor Sigfusson at IOC.

The IOC took part in Beach Clean-up Day

Beach Clean up-dayAugust 31st,
the IOC staff took part in a Beach Clean-up Day organized by the Blue Army in Iceland and The US Embassy in Iceland. Two large containers of rubbish were collected. There is more to do and we will be back soon to clean up more with this marvellous team of volunteers.

Introducing “The Incredible Fish Value Machine”

Written by Thor Sigfusson, founder of the Iceland Ocean Cluster

The following drawing is inspired by the “The Incredible Bread Machine”, a text written by R.W Grant in 1966. The book had an accompanying poem entitled “Tom Smith and His Incredible Bread Machine”. The Tom Smith poem is about a man who invents a machine for producing bread very cheaply, and thus the world is fed.


“The Incredible Fish Value Machine” displays how Icelanders have produced “an industry fishing machine” which takes pride in the fact that no other whitefish nation is utilising more of each fish than Icelanders. While in typical North Atlantic fisheries the head, gut and bones of every cod are discarded, in Icelandic fisheries we have become used to making money out of many of these by-products. Analysis done by the Iceland Ocean Cluster indicates that Icelanders utilise 80%+ of each cod while many neighbouring countries make full use of only around 50%. The study indicates over 500 thousand tonnes of cod are discarded into the sea or as waste in the Barents Sea region and across the North Atlantic from Newfoundland to Norway.

There is no single explanation for this huge difference in utilisation. Partly it may be explained by the fact that unlike the year-round long fishery in Iceland, many fishing nations have short fishing seasons with massive amounts landed over a few months, making it difficult to process such raw material efficiently. Secondly, the integration between fishing and processing in Iceland through common ownership is not usually the case among other seafood nations. Finally, and maybe most importantly, the seafood industry is often located in marginalized places and is not in touch with R&D, investors, accelarators etc. Steve Case writes in “The Third Wave”: “Over the next two decades we will see cities that were once marginalized become entrepreneurial powerhouses”. Case points out that “there is appeal to putting down roots where industry ecosystems already exist”. But even in areas where R&D, Universities and investors are close to the seafood eco system we still do not see all the dots connecting. This lack of ties is probably the most important reason why so much seafood protein is used for landfill in many countries. The key to creating the “incredible fish value machine” is to build the bridge between these important parts of the seafood cluster.

I am confident that it is only a matter of time when fisheries will stop discarding out value and more people join the 100% movement. As more companies join the by-product market and the market develops further, the prices will continue to increase and the incentives for fisheries to get value from their by-products are also set to increases.

Icelanders have long taken pride in their efficient fisheries. There is no one explanation for why Icelandic fisheries have for the most part been more efficient than others. I believe there is, as is often the case, a very pragmatic explanation: Icelanders have never had the luxury of treating their fisheries lightly. As the core industry in Iceland it cannot be government subsidised. The entire cluster of seafood businesses in Iceland has, for a long time, been at the heart of the income tax base for government and not the other way around. The same applies to a great extent when examining Icelandic fish by-products; if there is value to be found in by-products, effective fisheries used to focusing on value will find opportunities to use them.

The Incredible Fish Value Machine is not hypothetical. It is very real. The Icelandic model has proved reliable and this model can be duplicated in seafood industries all around; creating new opportunities in coastal areas.

Fletcher School, Iceland Ocean Cluster Collaborate on Panel at Arctic Circle 2016

Arctic Circle Assembly 2016The Fletcher School at Tufts University and Iceland Ocean Cluster House are organizing a panel at this year’s Arctic Circle Assembly about recent advances in Blue Technology (BlueTech).

Entitled “BlueTech Innovation for a Developing Arctic,” the panel promises to bring BlueTech leaders from across the public sector, private sector, and academia.

“It is my pleasure to expand cooperation between the Fletcher School and the Iceland Ocean Cluster House,” said Professor Rockford Weitz, Director of the Fletcher School’s Maritime Studies Program and chair of the panel. “The common challenges that face us in the maritime domain are only going to get more dire as time goes by. We could not ask for a better partner in this endeavor than the Iceland Ocean Cluster.”

The Iceland Ocean Cluster House was quick to return the praise. “We are proud of our collaboration between the Ocean Cluster and the Fletcher School,” said Thor Sigfusson, Founder of the House. “Commercial BlueTech developments only come from effective partnership between practitioners and academic institutions. This panel will be an excellent opportunity for the world’s leading BlueTech experts to discuss how these developments can apply in the Arctic.”

Beyond the Fletcher School and Iceland Ocean Cluster House, the BlueTech panel will also feature representatives from other BlueTech organizations. These include the Institute for Global Maritime Studies, an education non-profit that seeks practical solutions to global maritime challenges, the Iceland School of Energy at Reykjavik University, and Blue Water Metrics Inc, a scientific non-profit that crowdsources ocean health data.




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