Fish friendship between Grimsby and Akureyri

Two major fishing centres are celebrating this week after setting up an association which will likely increase trade and boost cultural connections between the two areas.

The northern city of Akureyri in Iceland and Grimsby in the UK signed a declaration of friendship last weekend. It is highly possible that the agreement will lead to a twinning of cities within the next year.

The friendship agreement was the culmination of a meeting between business and civic leaders from the two towns held in Grimsby. The delegation from Akureyri flew home amidst promises that a fishing delegation from Grimsby would return the visit in the spring.

The agreement will facilitate the flow of fish from the northern city to the Humber region despite increased quotas restricting the fish catch this year. The quota for cod fishing was reduced by 30 per cent this year, catching residents of Grimsby and Iceland by surprise.

Mrs Sigrun Bjork Jakobsdottir, the Mayor and Chief Executive of Akureyri, said, “We have greatly enjoyed our visit and I have no doubt that this will result in increased trade and business between our two ports. I was surprised at just how much they have in common especially in the area of fishing, fish processing and food packaging.”

The Mayor expressed her appreciation for the new Humber Seafood Institute currently being built as well as the airport extension under construction in Humber. When the airport extension opens in 2009, she said it will be easier to fly fish directly to Humber.

Chairman of the Grimsby Fish Merchants Association, Bill Hobson, was pleased with the results of the visit. “They were most charming visitors and it was great to welcome them. We found we have exactly the same heritage, the same interests and the same concerns about the long term future of the fishing industry,” he said.

“Yes, there are a lot of trade possibilities which we shall be pursuing in the months ahead. The new airport at Akureyri will open up that part of Iceland, but because of the cost of air freight I suppose it will be mainly fish fillets that will be flown in. As fish merchants, we would prefer whole fish, but with the way supplies are at the moment we must be grateful for anything we can get.”

The civic and trade mission from Iceland to Grimsby has been planned for more than three years.