Fish Species

As in other areas of the North Atlantic, cod has always been commercially the most important species in Icelandic waters, although its relative importance has been declining during the latter part of the 20th century. Other large codfishes such as saithe and haddock have also been fished extensively for the whole 20th century by the demersal fleet. In the latter half of the century the trawlers also moved to deeper water to target redfish species and Greenland halibut. Several other fish species such as flatfishes and catfishes are also important contributors to the demersal fisheries.

Pelagic fisheries concentrated exclusively on herring, until its stock collapse in the late 1960s, which led to capelin and recently blue whiting and mackerel becoming major species targeted by this fleet. The pelagic fisheries are characterized by great fluctuations in catches from one year to another as the size or migration patterns of these stocks can fluctuate considerably between years.

Invertebrate fisheries began around the middle of the 20th century, initially based on northern shrimp and nephrops lobster; the former sustained for a time one of the most valuable fisheries in Icelandic waters.

Whaling was quite important for the economy in the first decade of the 20th century, but became less significant after the First World War. After the Second World War, whaling of the large whales was only conducted from one shore station in western Iceland, while minke whaling is still conducted by smaller vessels all around Iceland.

Many other minor fisheries exist or have existed in Iceland, e.g. the lumpsucker fishery where specialised gillnets are used. Only a few species of cartilaginous fishes occur in Icelandic waters and these constitute only a minor part of current catches. However, Greenland shark fisheries with handline were among the most important fisheries in Icelandic waters in the 19th century.

Freshwater recreational fisheries are popular in Iceland. These target brown trout, Arctic char and Atlantic salmon. Small scale trout fisheries are also conducted with gillnets in shallow waters, but it is illegal to catch salmon in the sea. All the Icelandic freshwater species are diadromous by origin.

Source: The Icelandic Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture – Photo Credit: Hans-Petter field”

Articles in Fish Species

Twaite Shad

The twaite had (Alo a fallax) i mainly found in the Baltic Sea, up along the... more

The Northern Bluefin Tuna

The northern bluefin tuna (giant gluefin tuna - Lat Thunnu thynnu ) inhabit... more

Toad Crab or Small Spider Crab

The toad crab' (Lat Hya araneu ) habitat i in hallow water all around... more

Thornback Ray

The thornback ray' (Lat Raja clavata) nout i very hort and almo t at an... more

Spotted Catfish

The potted catfi h' (Lat Anarrhicha minor) habitat i above the ocean floor... more

Common Skate

The common kate (Lat Raja bati linnaeu ) ha a pointed nout It length i... more

Edible Sea Urchin

The life cycle of a ea urchin (Lat Echinu e culentu ) tart by pawning... more

Sea or Arctic Char

The ea or arctic char (Lat Salvelinu alpinu ) i mainly to be found in the... more

Catfish – Seawolf

The catfi h ( eawolf, Atlantic catfi h, Atlantic wolffi h, wolf eel - Lat... more

The Icelandic Salmon

Salmon (Lat Salmo alar) fi hing wa practi ed in Iceland from it earlie t... more

Saithe – Pollock

The aithe' (Lat Pollachiu viren ) habitat i in the North Atlantic Ocean,... more

European Plaice

The plaice' (Lat Pleuronecte plate a linnaeu ) habitat are in the Northea t... more

Orange Roughy

The orange roughy' (Lat Hoplo tethu i landicu ) habitat i mainly off the... more

Opah – King Fish – Sun Fish

The opah' (Lat Lampri guttatu or luna) mouth i toothle and can be... more

Ocean Perch – Redfish – Norway Haddock

The ocean perch (Lat Seba te marinu ) live near the ea floor clo e to land... more

Norway Pout

The Norway pout' (Lat Boreogadu e marki) habitat are in the Northea t... more

Norway Lobster

The Norway lob ter (Dublin Bay prawn, langou tine, campi - Lat Nephrop... more

Northern Horse Mussel

The northern hor e mu el (Lat Modiola modiola) i one of the mo t common... more

Northern Shrimp

The northern hrimp (Lat Pandalu boreali ) i one of the animal called... more

Megrim – Whiff – Sail Fluke

The megrim' habitat are off the coa t of Europe, from the Trondheim' Bay in... more

Lumpsucker or Lumpfish

The lumpfi h (Lat Cyclopteru lumpu ) ha no cale and the ventral fin form a... more


The ling' (Lat Molva Molva) habitat i in the northea t Atlantic, from... more

Iceland Scallop – Northern Clam

Scallop aggregate in patch-like group , and commercially fi hable... more

Iceland Cyprine

Thi mu el (Lat Arctica i landica or Cyprina i landica) i the mo t common of... more


The herring' (Lat Clupea harengu linnaeu ) habitat i in the North Atlantic,... more

Atlantic Halibut

The halibut' (Lat Hippoglo u hippoglo u ) habitat on the ocean floor in the... more


Haddock (off hore hake - Lat Melanogrammu aeglefinu ) ha it habitat in the... more

Greenland Halibut

The Greenland halibut' (Lat Reinhardtiu hippoglo oide ) habitat i in the... more

Gray Sole

The Flounder' (Lat Glyptocephalu cynoglo u ) habitat are in the North... more

European Eel or Elver

The American eel (Lat Anguilla ro trata) and the European eel (Lat Anguilla... more

Picked dogfish or spurdog

In front of both dor al fin are hollow, poi oned pike The dogfi h' (Lat:... more


The cod' (Lat: Gadu morhua) habitat are in the North Atlantic, from... more


The capelin' (Lat: Mallotu villo u ) habitat i in the cold ea of the North... more

Blue Whiting

The blue whiting' (Lat: Microme i tiu pouta ou) habitat i in the... more

Blue Mussel

The blue mu el (Lat: Mytilu eduli ) i common all around Iceland It i a... more

Blue Ling

The blue ling (Lat: Molva byrkelange) i mo tly 80-130 centimetre long It i... more

Basking Shark

The ba king hark (Lat: Cetorhinu maximu ) i the econd large t fi h pecie... more

Angler Fish

The habitat of the angler fi h (Lat: Lophiu pi catoriu ) are in the North... more