Icelandic fishermen want a larger share of their catch value, as cod and haddock stocks drop at Grimsby fish market by 50%.
The price of fish and chips could be about to rise as a strike by Icelandic fishermen threatens the UK supply of fresh cod and haddock.
Grimsby, which is Britain’s biggest importer of fresh Icelandic fish, has been hit by reduced stock levels triggered by the dispute, which centres on Icelandic trawlermen’s demand for a larger share of the value of their catch.
At the town’s fish market, where the price of whole cod is £2.80 to £3 per kilogram and haddock is at £2.20 to £3.30 per kilo, just 514 boxes of fish were offered for auction on Tuesday – described as the “least supply ever”.
Fears have been raised that cod and haddock prices could rise because of the dwindling supply. Martyn Boyers, chief executive of the group that operates Grimsby fish market, said: “Iceland is one of the main suppliers of fish into the UK. It has hit our business particularly badly because we do rely on Icelandic fish. In due course there will be a knock-on effect as there will be less fish available and if the demand stays the same then generally the price will go up.”
Two thirds of the fish sold at Grimsby’s market comes from Iceland and stock levels are down around 50%.
Six of the 32 people working at the market have lost their jobs. Mr Boyers said: “We have had to lay people off, which is unfortunate for them as it is not their fault. We have been closely linked to Iceland for so long we are not able to switch as quickly to get other supplies. I wouldn’t say the industry is going to implode but there is a big change in the way fish comes to market and is sourced.”
He added that the dispute needed to be resolved with the Icelandic government and trawlermen before UK consumers have to pay higher prices.
According to public body Seafish, the vast majority of cod sold by UK fish and chip shops is caught in the Arctic waters of the Barents Sea and Iceland.