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Sustainability in Iceland

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Seljalandsfoss Iceland

Seljalandsfoss, Iceland

Now more than ever, sustainable practices are crucial for our planet's future.  The ever growing demand for products continues to take a toll on our resources.  So what is sustainability?  What does it mean for the seafood industry?  What is Nordic Catch doing to ensure a sustainable future?  We are 100% transparent about what we do here.  We are not here to slap a bunch of eco-labels in your face.  We are here to show you the big picture around sustainability in Iceland.  So let's dive in and get these answered.  Feel free to reach out through our FAQ page to learn even more.

What is sustainability?

Simply, it's an effort to ensure resources regenerate faster than they are consumed.

Think about your bank account.  If credit cards didn't exist, you would not spend more money than what your balance says you have.  This should be true about our planet.  All resources are finite.  It's our responsibility, as a society, to ensure we don't run out of resources.  From minerals, to water, to plants, and yes of course, seafood.

Gullfoss Iceland

Gullfoss, Iceland

Iceland as a whole

Iceland accounts for 0.01% of Earth's CO2 emissions.  China = 29.2%.  USA = 14%.

Worldometer - Iceland CO2 Emissions

99.9% of Iceland is powered with renewable energy.  Iceland is the land of fire & ice.  That means it's full of hot volcanos, and icy glacier mountains.  Every year, the glaciers melt, and freeze again.  This creates thousands of waterfalls and rivers across the country.  The volcanic activity creates lots of heat in the ground, in turn, creating steam, used to power turbines in geothermal plants.  The power from these waterfalls and rivers is harnessed at various hydropower plants.

Hellisheidi Power Plant

Hellisheiði Geothermal Power Plant

Hrauneyjafoss Hydropower Station

Hrauneyjafoss Hydropower Station

And where does all this fresh, clean, glacier water lead?   The ocean.

Sustainable seafood

This is more than just how many fish are swimming in the ocean.  Truly sustainable seafood starts on land (at the fishery) and ends at your dinner plate.  Monitoring fish stocks, using appropriate fishing gear, utilizing all parts of a fish, are just some of the ways fisheries in Iceland are paying attention to sustainability.

From land, to sea, to plate.  

Nordic Catch Fishery

Certified fisheries in Iceland, utilizing >99% of the fish

Iceland's exclusive fishing zone is seven times the size of Iceland itself.  That means that no one else can fish in their waters.  Just the locals.  This protects jobs, their fish stocks, and gives them control of when and how much can be fished any given year.

How do we know that wild species are not being overfished?  Next section.

Iceland Responsible Fisheries

Iceland was the first country to introduce a quota system.


Every year the Marine & Freshwater Research Institute (MFRI) decides how much can be fished.  The total allowable catch (TAC), aka "the quota system", is set every year and allocated to various fishing vessels.  This system is strictly enforced and hefty fines are implemented for any fishing vessel that exceeds their allowed catch.  This system has allowed all fish species in Iceland to flourish, leading to generations of healthy and abundant fish stocks.

"Respect for the ocean and its gifts is deeply ingrained in our culture..."

Nordic Catch Gardar

Nordic Catch at legendary fishing vessel, Garðar BA 64


Aquaculture is more than just farming.  It is the nurturing of a species, strategically placed in the middle of the ocean.  The MFRI is also responsible for testing the ocean waters around farm sites to ensure the sites are not polluting or negatively affecting the wild surrounding them.  Farm sites in Iceland are located in the Westfjords and Eastfjords.  This is where the ocean is surrounded by land on 3 sides.  It is the entryway for glacier water rivers into the ocean.  This fresh, clean water pushes through like a strong current, creating natural filtration for the fish.

This is why Icelandic farmed fish are disease free.  ZERO antibiotics are ever needed.

Each net is the size of a football field.  This gives the fish plenty of space to swim around and exercise their muscles.  Underwater cameras and crews of workers monitor the fish daily, to ensure every one of them is healthy and eating well.

Sustainable practices and clean methods like this, protect the wild species that are already going extinct from overfishing.  Alaska is facing this problem today.

Nordic Catch Salmon Farm

Nordic Catch at a Salmon farm in the Westfjords, Iceland

The fishing industry is one of the main pillars of the Icelandic economy.  Making up approximately 4% of the total workforce and over 8% of the countries GDP, it's obvious as to why the country must protect this resource.  It's in their nature to practice sustainably.  Read more on the IRF site.

Nordic Catch Sustainability

Our mission is to carry over Iceland's focus on sustainability here in the States. 

We source from small fisheries, with a focus on sustainability and quality over mass-production.  These fisheries have smaller boats with longlines.  This fishing gear results in higher quality product, with minimal-to-zero harm to other species resulting from by-catch.

One of our main suppliers is Einhamar Seafood.  A woman-owned and operated fishery, with a clear focus on longline fishing.
Fun fact, over 1/3 of all board members in Iceland are women.

Einhamar Nordic Catch

Einhamar Seafood and Nordic Catch

Vesteinn GK 88

Vesteinn GK 88, longline vessel

We choose sustainable cotton insulation, instead of foam.  Before deciding to launch our nationwide shipping service, we tested various insulation materials to be sure we could continue to deliver fresh, never-frozen products, without using foam boxes.  Our insulation liners are made from recycled cotton, that will biodegrade in landfills after about a year. 

Nordic Catch Insulated Box

Cotton insulation liners, shipping box

All of our products are made and/or packed in Iceland.  Preserving Iceland's industry, and keeping their economy growing.  We won't ever take this from Iceland.

They just happen to have the best seafood and the best sustainable practices.

And we just want you to try it.

Cheers to generations of healthy fish.

- Nordic Catch

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