Fisheries and fish processing
The fisheries sector has been regarded as one of the cornerstones of the Icelandic economic sector for quite some time. According to the national accounts, however, the direct contribution from fisheries and fish processing to the GDP has only been 7–10% over the past few years. At present, the sector employs around 8,600 people or approximately 5% of Iceland’s workforce (Statistics Iceland, 2011). These statistics do not accord with the alleged fundamental role of the fisheries sector in the Icelandic economy. As a result, it could be tempting to assume that the fisheries sector’s role as the foundation of the Icelandic economy has had its day, but is this in fact so? Do these statistics provide a realistic view of the importance of the fisheries sector in the Icelandic economy?
It has long been obvious that the economic effects of the fisheries industry in Iceland are much greater than as easured directly in the national accounts. Ragnar Arnason and Sveinn Agnarsson (2005) pointed out that the fisheries sector is a base industry sector and that its total contribution to GDP was higher than its direct contribution, according to the national accounts. They prepared a statistical assessment of these overall effects that indicated that they could be between 25% and 35% of GDP. Reports issued by Statistics Iceland “Sjávarútvegur sem grunnatvinnuvegur” (2003) (The fisheries industry as a base industry) and “Hlutur sjávarútvegs í þjóðarbúskapnum” (2007) (Share of the fisheries sector in the national economy) discussed similar issues and are generally in agreement. Comparable measurements of the economic importance of the fisheries sector in Newfoundland (Roy et al 2009), moreover, also point to the same conclusions.