International Council for the Exploration of the Sea
FisheriesOverview_IcelandicWaters_2021.pdf (3.01 MB)

Icelandic Waters ecoregion – Fisheries overview

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posted on 2023-08-22, 11:40 authored by ICESICES

The majority of fishing in the Icelandic Waters ecoregion is performed by Icelandic vessels. Around 1750 fishing vessels, from all countries, operate in this ecoregion. Half of these vessels are smaller than 10 m, and mainly operate in inshore waters. The spatial distribution of the larger vessels varies across the ecoregion, while the demersal fisheries are considered largely mixed fisheries, but species composition varies depending on the area and gear used.

Catches are taken from over 40 stocks, five of which are widely distributed pelagics. Total landings peaked in the mid-1990s at two million tonnes and have since declined to about one million tonnes. Pelagic fish landings have been larger than demersal fish landings since the early 1990s. Total fishing effort has also declined substantially.

Cod is mainly taken in trawl and longline fisheries and accounts for the highest landings of demersal species, followed by saithe, golden redfish, haddock, and Greenland halibut; these are mainly taken by demersal trawls. Capelin, herring, and mackerel are caught by pelagic trawls and seines and account for the largest portion of the pelagic landings. Discarding is prohibited for most commercial stocks; there are, however, no reliable estimates available on discards.

Stocks with the main distribution area in the ecoregion are assessed for stock status and fishing pressure. Spawning-stock biomass has been assessed to be above Btrigger, while the exploitation rate has declined in recent years and is now at FMSY or HRMSY in most cases.

Incidental bycatch of harbour porpoise, seals, and seabird species occurs in several fisheries, especially in gillnet fisheries.


Published under the auspices of the following ICES Steering Group or Committee

  • ACOM


ICES Advice: Fisheries overviews

Recommended citation

ICES. 2021. Icelandic Waters ecoregion – Fisheries overview. In Report of the ICES Advisory Committee, 2021. ICES Advice 2021.