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|Iceland: Ocean cluster responsible for a quarter of Icelandic GDP|
|Thursday, 29 March 2012 00:00|
The ocean cluster in Iceland comprises the companies related to the fisheries industry, both those directly involved in fishing as well as those involved in associated businesses.
In a recent paper, Thor Sigfusson, Director of the Icelandic Ocean Cluster, and Ragnar Arnason, Professor at the University of Iceland, seek to estimate the economic importance of this cluster. The authors conclude that the export turnover of companies that have sprung up as the result of the existence of a basic fishing industry, which is fishing and processing, in Iceland amounted to ISK42bn (EUR260m). This they attribute to companies in the fields of transport, technology, marine biotech, aquaculture, sales, and marketing, research, and end product processing. The latter are firms that process enzymes, fish skin or fish oil from raw material created by the fish processing industry. In addition, there are companies that have developed expertise and knowhow through their work with the Icelandic fishing industry and now offer a range of goods and services to overseas customers.
The authors contend that these ancillary industries that started out by piggybacking on the base fishing and fish processing industry now, in their own right, contribute almost as much to Icelandic GDP as the base industry does. In their view the total contribution to GDP by the ocean cluster can be estimated at 26%. They admit however that there is a degree of uncertainty regarding this figure, but suggest that there is a greater likelihood of underestimation than overestimation.
The report shows how a dynamic base industry can provide the seed which multiplies into a diverse range of industries and enterprises that can in time overtake the parent industry and even lead to the formation of new base industries. For this to happen however it is important that authorities nurture the cluster and create the conditions in which it can grow and prosper, for example, by formulating a comprehensive public policy, something that the authors feel is lacking in Iceland. With the right policies the authors see the ocean cluster as a force that will benefit the Icelandic economy in the long term.