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Part I Overview and main indicators

  1. Country brief
  2. General geographic and economic indicators
  3. FAO Fisheries statistics

Part II Narrative (2011)

  1. Production sector
    • Marine sub-sector
      • Catch profile
      • Landing sites
      • Fishing practices/systems
      • Main resources
      • Management applied to main fisheries
      • Fishing communities
    • Inland sub-sector
    • Aquaculture sub-sector
    • Recreational sub-sector
  2. Post-harvest sector
    • Fish utilization
    • Fish markets
  3. Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sector
    • Role of fisheries in the national economy
    • Supply and demand
    • Trade
    • Food security
    • Employment
    • Rural development
  4. Trends, issues and development
    • Constraints and opportunities
    • Government and non-government sector policies and development strategies
    • Research, education and training
      • Research
      • Education and training
  5. Institutional framework
  6. References

Additional information

  1. FAO Thematic data bases
  2. Publications
  3. Meetings & News archive

Part I Overview and main indicators

Part I of the Fishery and Aquaculture Country Profile is compiled using the most up-to-date information available from the FAO Country briefs and Statistics programmes at the time of publication. The Country Brief and the FAO Fisheries Statistics provided in Part I may, however, have been prepared at different times, which would explain any inconsistencies.

Country briefPrepared: May 2013

The fisheries sector in Denmark — excluding Greenland and the Faeroe Islands — is managed within the framework of the Eurpoean Union’s (EU) Common Fisheries Policy. The capture fisheries sector consists of the following three main categories:
  • the industrial fishery for fishmeal and fish oil, mainly for sandeel, Norway pout, blue whiting and sprat;
  • the pelagic fishery for human consumption, mainly herring and mackerel stored in Cold Sea Water (CSW) tanks and landed whole; and
  • the demersal fishery for white fish (cod, hake, haddock, whiting, saithe), flatfish (sole, plaice, flounder, etc.), Norway lobster and deep water prawns.
The main Danish fishing areas are located in the North Sea, Skagerrak/Kattegat and the Baltic Sea. Fish for fishmeal and oil production are almost exclusively caught in the North Sea. Cod, herring, mackerel and flatfish species are the main fishery for human consumption in Danish waters, accounting for more than 60 percent of the value of fish landings. Fisheries for Norway lobster in the Kattegat and for blue mussels in Limfjorden are of significant local importance.

The Danish fishing fleet in 2011 was composed of 2789 vessels and 88 percent of the fleet consists of vessels under 25 GT — predominantly gill netters. At the other end of the spectrum, 84 vessels, trawlers and purse seiners, are over 150 GT.

Danish commercial inland fisheries are negligible.

Aquaculture production in Denmark concentrates mainly on rainbow trout, farmed in freshwater ponds. Denmark is alsoan exporter of quality rainbow trout eggs and fish feed for various species. Blue mussels, sea trout, chars and pike perch are produced in small quantities. The annual aquaculture production level remained relatively stable at around 41 000 tonnes in the 1990s, but has been slightly lower since 2000. In 2011, aquaculture production was estimated at 34 900 tonnes, with rainbow trout as majority species. The European eel production has fallen gradually from its record high level of 2 700 tonnes in 1999 to about 1 200 tonnes in recent years.

In 2012, Denmark was the eighth largest exporter of fish and fishery products in the world. In 2011, total capture production amounted to about 716 000 tonnes. A significant share of Danish total fishery production is exported, with the EU as the main market with a share of about 80 percent. In 2012, exports of fish and fishery products were valued at USD 4.1 billion and imports reached USD 3.1 billion. Denmark is a major importer of raw materials used for further processing and then re-exported. Employment in semi-processing (filleting) activities is decreasing, whereas employment in processing, wholesale and retail sale of fresh fish remains more stable.

Approximately 430 people are directly employed in aquaculture, mainly in traditional fish farming, and about 2 012 fishers operated in marine waters in 2010. An additional 4 200 people are employed for processing and preserving fish and fishery products.

The activities of the fishery and aquaculture sector in Denmark accounted for 0.15 percent of the Gross Domestic Product in 2010. Although the overall contribution of the fisheries sector to the Danish economy is minor, fisheries constitute a very important economic activity in specific regions, i.e. Western and Northern Jutland and the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea.

In 2010, the per capita fish consumption amounted to 22.7 kg. Denmark is a global hub for the development of fishing gear (in particular towed gears like trawls and the Danish Seine) and to some extent the development and production of fish processing equipment. These developments have been the result a close and fruitful cooperation between the fishing and processing sectors and (semi-) governmental research institutes. Through cooperative EU research projects the trawl flume tank in Jutland is, for example, the European centre for development of selective and environmental friendly fishing gear.

The Danish fishing industry has experienced a very large re-structuring exercise in the past 15 years. This has been due a variety of factors including: the decrease in the cod fisheries catch; compliance with conservation objectives; capacity adjustment of the fishing fleet; and the increased centralization of the processing industry. The production of fish and shellfish from aquaculture is expected to show a higher growth in coming years, especially in relation to saltwater breeding.

The responsible authority for monitoring and enforcing EU and national conservation policies is the Danish Directorate of Fisheries, which is a part of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries. The aquaculture sector is regulated by the Fisheries Act under the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries and is mainly governed through the implementation of environmental regulations.

Since November 2004, Denmark has been a Party to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. On 19 December 2003, on the same day that other EC countries and the EC itself, Denmark became Party to the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement, and made a declaration recalling “that as a Member of the European Community, Denmark has transferred competence to the European Community in respect of certain matters governed by the Agreement, which are specified in the Annex to this letter”. Through the European Community, it is Party to the 1993 FAO Compliance Agreement.

Figure1 — Map of Denmark
Figure1 — Map of Denmark
General geographic and economic indicators

Table 1 — Denmark — General geographic and economic indicators

Marine water area approx. 105 000 km² FAO
Length of continental coastline 7 314 km FAO
GDP at purchaser's value 2011 USD 295 430 million* Eurostat
GDP per capita 2011 USD 53 011** Eurostat
Fisheries GDP (2011) USD 4 210 million* Eurostat
*Value converted by FAO as per UN currency exchange rate
**Per capita calculated by FAO and converted as per UN currency exchange rate

FAO Fisheries statistics

Updated 2011Part II Narrative

Part II of the Fishery and Aquaculture Country Profile provides supplementary information that is based on national and other sources and that is valid at the time of compilation (see update year above). References to these sources are provided as far as possible.

Production sectorFor centuries fisheries has been an important occupation for the coastal population of Denmark. Since medieval times the inner Danish waters, shallow and productive, have been the source of a substantial production of fish, shellfish and mussels in spite of the brackish nature of the waters which limits species diversity.

The west coast of Jutland faces the North Sea, one of the most productive fishing grounds in the world. During the 20th century these grounds, supported a large-scale fishing industry.The Danish commercial fishery is characterized by three sub-sectors:
  • A demersal fishery with trawls, Danish seines and gill nets for round-fish species like cod and haddock, and various flatfish like plaice, sole and turbot. In many of these fisheries Norway lobster makes up an important by-catch.
  • A trawl fishery for sand eel, Norway pout, blue whiting, etc., supplied to the fish meal industry; and,
  • A pelagic fishery with purse seines and pelagic trawls for herring and mackerel.
  • There is a long tradition, especially in parts of Jutland, of raising rainbow trout in ponds. Today there are also several marine fish farms and mussel farms.
There is a long tradition, especially in parts of Jutland, of raising trout in ponds. Today there are also several marine fish farms and mussel farms.

Commercial fish catches and aquaculture production have for many years made up a substantial part of commodities exported from Denmark, accounting for around 4percent of the total export value in 2009. Today Denmark also imports large volumes of unprocessed fish from the Faeroe Islands, Greenland, Norway and Russia. Much of this fish is processed and exported. This makes Denmark a major supplier of seafood products to the European Union. In fact the EU receives about 85 percent of Danish seafood exports. Marine sub-sectorCatch profileThe development of the Danish commercial catches 2001 – 2010 is given in Figure 14. Catches have dropped from 1.5 million tonnes to around 600 000 tonnes in this period. This decrease is mainly due to a dramatic drop in the catches of sand-eel in the North Sea and decreases in other food fish catches. The quotas were lowered for a number of species and various measures were implemented, in particular, to enable the recovery of cod stocks. Figure 15 shows the value of the Danish catches 2001 - 2010. A comparison of the two figures reflects that the fishery for reduction is composed of low-value species.

Figure 14 — Danish catches in tonnes in 2001-2010
Figure 14 — Danish catches in tonnes in 2001-2010
Source:Danish Directorate of Fisheries

Figure 15 — Danish catches in DKK in 2001-2010
Figure 15 — Danish catches in DKK in 2001-2010
Source:Danish Directorate of Fisheries

The catches by weight and by main species groups are given in Figure 16. Most of the landings come from certain key species. By far the most important catches in terms of weight are from so-called “industrial fisheries” (a term used in Denmark for the trawl fishery directed at species processed into fish meal and oil). In 2010 the bulk of Danish catches were made up of fish for reduction contributing 68 percent of the total commercial landing.

Catches consisted of sand eel, sprat, blue whiting, and Norway pout. In recent years a new species – the pelagic boar-fish - has emerged in the English Channel and south of England and Ireland. The fishery for this species started in 2006 and in 2010 yielded around 75 000 tonnes. The future of this fishery is uncertain, as a precautionary ban on catching this species has been introduced. The status of the stocks is not known and the sustainability of present exploitation needs to be investigated.

The herring fishery for canning and curing is the second largest fishery, taking 12 percent of landings. The remaining part is made up of a long list of fish species including roundfish, flatfish, cod, and plaice as well as shellfish and molluscs.

The value of the catch of the Danish landings shows a very different picture (Figure 17). Landings of fish, shellfish and molluscs were worth 397 million EUR in 2010. Fish for reduction accounts for 30percent of the total value. In the pelagic sector herring and mackerel contribute 32 and 45 million EUR respectively. The most important demersal fish is cod, with plaice coming second. The value of Norway lobster – about 8 EUR/kg - explains why this shellfish species is so attractive for the fishermen.

Figure 16 – Denmark - The landings from Danish vessels in 2010 (values in brackets are from 2009)
Figure 16 – Denmark - The landings from Danish vessels in 2010 (values in brackets are from 2009)
Source: Danish Fishermen Association, The Directorate of Fisheries.

Figure 17 – Denmark – The value of landings from Danish vessels in 2010, million EUR (values in brackets are from 2009)
Figure 17 – Denmark – The value of landings from Danish vessels in 2010, million EUR (values in brackets are from 2009)
Source:Danish Fishermen Association, The Directorate of Fisheries

Landing sitesThe most important commercial fishery takes place from the harbours on the west coast of Jutland, that is: Hvide Sande, Thyborøn, Hanstholm, Hirtshals and Skagen, and from Strandby on the east coast of Northern Jutland.

The Baltic fishery takes place from the large fishing harbour at Nexø on Bornholm.

In addition to these fishing centres there are also commercial fishing activities from other harbours located in the inner Danish waters, but few vessels use these small harbours. As the overall number of active fishing vessels is decreasing, services and physical facilities needed for servicing fishing vessels are gradually concentrated to the bigger harbours in Denmark.

The Danish fishing vessels are, in general, flexible in their operation. In the course of a year most vessels take part in different fisheries and fishing patterns change from year to year. Vessels with a home port in one of the west coast harbours will make seasonal visits to the Baltic Sea to fish cod or sprat, and vessels from the inner Danish waters will fish in the North Sea during the summer season.

Figure 18 — Denmark — Number and tonnage of fishing vessels 1997 – 2009
Figure 18 — Denmark — Number and tonnage of fishing vessels 1997 – 2009
Source: Danish Fishermen Association, The Directorate of Fisheries
Fishing practices/systemsThe Danish fishing fleet has been able to cope with the changing conditions over the past decades by shifting from one fishery to another or by adopting new fishing methods.

There has been a steady decrease in the size of the fishing fleet (Figure 18). From 1997 to 2009 the number of vessels decreased by 41percent and the tonnage by 37percent. However, the fleet’s fishing power did not drop as fast. The fishing rights have been merged into fewer vessels and the catching efficiency of the average unit has increased, not only due to technological advances, but also because vessels are working more days at sea per year.

Most Danish fishing vessels are small gillnetters. However, they do not contribute much to catches (Figure 19). The trawlers are the main contributors to Danish fish landings. In addition, the fleet contains 41 vessels that use the Danish seine (= anchor seine) and four purse seiners.

Figure 19 — Denmark — Number of Danish fishing vessels (left) and tonnage (right) in 2009
Figure 19 — Denmark — Number of Danish fishing vessels (left) and tonnage (right) in 2009
Source: Danish Fishermen Association, The Directorate of Fisheries

While approximately three quarters of the Danish fishing vessels in numbers are gill netters, trawlers account for about three quarters of tonnage power of the Danish fisheries sector.

Gill netters are found throughout the country. They use bottom set gill nets and trammel nets on several types of bottom: sandy stretches, stony patches and mud. They target a variety of species, mainly flatfish (plaice, turbot, brill, sole), and round-fish (cod, haddock, saithe and ling). Occasionally they fish for monkfish and hake. Gill netters are often small vessels, less than 12 meters in length overall (LOA) and many of them are open boats. Trawlers are generally demersal trawlers, and most of them are multi-riggers using at least two trawls, side by side. They are from 10 to 30 meters LOA and fish in all Danish waters and beyond (the North Sea, the English Channel, Skagerrak, the inner Danish waters and the Baltic).

In the North Sea, Skagerrak and Kattegat, the trawlers target a large mix of species. If the fish are above minimum landing size they will be landed. The most important species are cod and plaice, but often the double trawlers will take Norway lobster. Although the quantity of catch of this species is small, it fetches a high price on the market and makes up the major part of the revenue. Monkfish, hake, turbot, sole are other important species. There are only a few trawlers left that target pelagic species using pelagic trawls. These are big vessels equipped with tanks containing refrigerated sea water (RSW) for holding the catch.

The purse seiners have their home port in Hirtshals and they are all multi-purpose vessels able to fish either with pelagic trawls or purse seines. They are the biggest vessels in the Danish fleet, measuring more than 60 meters LOA, with modern equipment, and capable of holding up to 2 500 tonnes of fish.

In the Danish fishing fleet there are also anchor seiners and fly-shooters. The majority of these vessels are based in the west coast harbours from where they fish in the North Sea. A few fish out of harbours located in the inner Danish waters, from where they fish in the Baltic, but they also fish part of the year in the North Sea. Anchor (or Danish) seining was a very important fishing method in the middle of the last century, but has since lost out to more productive methods like trawling. However, anchor seining is now experiencing a renewed interest because of the low fuel consumption and the excellent quality of the catch taken by this fishing.There is a large mussel fishery located in the Wadden Sea, which is located in the south-east part of the North Sea, and in the Limfjord. Occasionally mussel banks will also be found in other parts of Denmark, i.e. the eastern coast of Jutland, and the Isefjord. Vessels employed in these fisheries use mussel dredges.
Main resourcesDanish fishermen have access to certain EU waters, and through agreements with other countries, also to fishing grounds in Norwegian waters (several fish stocks) and to fishing grounds around Greenland (shrimps and capelin).

In EU waters fishing rights have been distributed according to historical rights. Therefore Danish fishermen have quotas in the English Channel, all over the North Sea, Skagerrak, Kattegat, the sounds and belts, and most of the Baltic. Furthermore Danish fishermen will have access to fisheries based on bilateral agreements that the EU has with foreign countries.

The cod fishery is a key fishery and it takes place in all Danish waters. There are several cod stocks and many of them have been low in the past decade. Strong management measures — bans, closures, quotas and selective gears — seem, however, to have had a beneficial effect as the stocks are beginning to recover. This is starting to be reflected in the catch quotas.

The plaice seems to be abundant, especially in the North Sea. Unfortunately the prices are low and in some years it has been difficult to catch the agreed quota.

The pelagic fishery has been closely managed for many years, partly by the industry itself. It is a healthy fishery. But catches fluctuate like in most pelagic fisheries. Nevertheless the stocks have supported the Danish purse seine fleet.

The mussel fishery takes place in the Wadden Sea in the south-east corner of the North Sea, in the Limfjord and in a few other places.
Management applied to main fisheriesThe responsible authority for monitoring and enforcing EU and national conservation policies is the Danish Directorate of Fisheries, which is a part of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries. The Directorate carries out inspection at sea and of landings. Inspection of veterinary standards is the responsibility of the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, also part of the Ministry of Food Agriculture and Fisheries.

The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is the foundation for all Danish fisheries regulations. However, a number of national regulations have been formulated to reflect local fishing conditions as well as the national resource exploitation policy.

Today access to fishing is governed by a range of measures:
  • Input controls :
  • Licences to fish;
  • Days at sea;
  • Output controls:
  • Total allowable catch (TAC) negotiated in the EU system;
  • Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQ), used in the herring and the mackerel fisheries;
  • Quota shares allocated to individual vessels (can be pooled together for a group of vessels).
  • Technical measures :
  • For a wide range of species, minimum landing size; in some cases these are higher than those specified in the CFP;
  • Fishery specific, minimum mesh size for trawl gear (and Danish seine), and for gill nets and purse seines;
  • Closed areas;
  • Closed seasons; established to protect fish during spawning and/or migration, but also to ensure fish quality and to reflect the market situation;
  • Size limitations on vessels and on engine power;
  • Restrictions in the use of certain fishing gear in specific areas (i.e. purse seine, beam trawl);
  • Detailed specification for trawl attachments like protection bags, round straps, exit windows and grids; and,
  • Detailed specifications for cod-ends and for netting configurations, like square mesh (T45) panels and turned meshes (T90).
Fishing communitiesThe largest fishing communities are found around the harbours in Jutland. Vessels are concentrated here as are the associated service industries, like engine workshops, net manufacturers, providers of fishing tackle etc.

But the fishing industry does not have the same importance it once had in these communities. As the size of fishing fleet declines, fishing is concentrated in fewer harbours. Formerly important fishing communities in Esbjerg, Frederikshavn, Grenå (all in Jutland) have more or less disappeared in recent years. The same fate has met several minor harbours spread along the shores of the Danish islands.

The fish processing industry is scattered all over Denmark, but – naturally - most factories are found in Northern Jutland not far from the landing sites. Another reason for the concentration in North Jutland is that this region is a transport hub for the marine traffic which inter alia brings fish and shellfish to Denmark. Export of fresh and chilled fish is taken care of by many small enterprises that engage in sorting, filleting, packing and transporting fish. Fish, local landings as well as imports, are processed by medium to large fishing industries. The processing includes: filleting, smoking, curing, freezing, and canning. In many locations these downstream activities are important as they provide much employment in the fishing communities.
Inland sub-sectorFisheries in lakes and rivers are marginal in Denmark, and are only of interest to recreational fishers (see section 3.5). Aquaculture sub-sectorRearing rainbow trout in ponds is a century-long tradition in Denmark. Water from brooks and rivers was diverted to ponds, where rainbow trout were reared to about 300 – 350 g. Not long ago it used to be that the fish were fed minced fish, often sprat.

However, environmental considerations and the regulations these gave rise to have forced producers to change production methods. Fish are today fed with pellets containing high quality protein and other vital additives. Concrete ponds are gradually replacing earthen ponds and farm effluents are monitored strictly to reduce the amount of nutrients returning to the brook or river.

Today land based aquaculture in Denmark is carried out in 214 farms. In 2009 they produced 32 100 tonnes of fish, mainly rainbow trout with a value of 615 million DKK (equivalent to 116 million USD). This production has been stable over the last decade and has been achieved by adhering to strict regulations designed to avoid excess effluent of nutrients. Each farm has a maximum amount of fish that it can produce. In many cases this maximum has been reached and some farms have been forced to reduce production.

Modern production technology is employed on 25 farms that in 2009 produced 8 200 tonnes (139 million DKK, equivalent to 26 million USD). On these farms up to 95 percent of the water is recirculated. These so-called “model farms” have reduced the effluents of nutrients considerably. The strict Danish environmental restrictions have fostered the development of cleaner technology and have had the positive by-effect that this technology is now exported all over the world where modern water recirculation is used for fish production.

Marine aquaculture started in the 1970s, but the conditions in the inner Danish waters are not ideal. There is occasional ice cover and sensitive eco-systems limit the discharge of nutrients, which limits growth of marine aquaculture. In 2010 there were 19 farms in the inner Danish waters, which produced 10 300 tonnes with a value of 318 million DKK (equivalent to 60 million USD).

In recent years several attempts have been made to produce mussels in the marine environments. In the sheltered areas of the Limfjord and elsewhere various arrangements for producing mussel production on ropes have been tested and success came in 2003. Since then production on 21 sites have risen to a 2 600 tonnes (value 13.1 million DKK, equivalent to 2.5 million USD).
Recreational sub-sectorSports fishing and angling are popular amongst Danes. Participants must have a permit. In 2011 the permit cost 250 DKK (about 45 USD). This fee was paid by 34 500 individuals. Another 40 000 individuals acquired a temporary (day or week) permit. There are approximately 30 000 members of the Danish Sports Angling Association. Permit-holders may fish along the Danish coasts, but fishing rights in lakes, rivers and brooks are privately held and fishing may only be done in agreement with the landowner. Several “put-and-take” lakes have been established in recent decades.
Post-harvest sectorFish utilizationIn 2009 the fish processing industry in Denmark consisted of 138 companies with a total of 4 129 employees. In addition, there were 418 companies trading/selling/transporting fish and seafood products with 1 939 employees (table 3).

Table 3 – Denmark — Employment in fishing and fish processing industry by branch

Source:Yearbook of Fishery Statistics 2009, The Danish Directorate of Fisheries)
Number of plants Number of employees
Fish processing, filleting, smoking, freezing etc. 132 3 825
Fish meal factories 6 304
Fish auctions and wholesale 225 1546
Fish shops 193 393
Total 556 6 068

Since medieval times Denmark has been a major supplier of fish to markets in southern Europe. A large number of wholesalers maintain these old trade channels, buying fish at the morning auction in the fishing harbours, especially along the west coast of Jutland, and selling it fresh on markets all over Europe. There is very little handling of the fish, although some are filleted, before being shipped with ice by lorry and train to European cities. This quick process secures high quality – and a high price – for the products which end up in supermarkets and fish shops. The high volume of Danish catches and the large volumes of imported fish place Danish wholesale enterprises in a favourable position.

Table 4 -:Denmark - Manufacturers’ sales of fish and fishery products, 2009

Source:Yearbook of Fishery Statistics 2009, Danish Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries
Product group Tonnes 1 000 DKK 1 000 USD
Fish, fresh, chilled or frozen: 59 324 1 671 276 315 752
Fish, dried, salted or smoked: 25 364 1 456 411 195 912
Crustaceans/molluscs fresh//frozen/cooked: 6 010 181 095 34 214
Fish/crustaceans/molluscs prepared: 496 234 6 114 772 1 155 256
Total fish, crustaceans and molluscs 586 941 9 423 554 1 780 381

Most of the fish processing industries are small or medium sized but each often produces a wide range of products. However, a few of them (11) have more than 100 employees, and can be regarded as among the biggest in the world.

In 2008 Danish exports of fish and fishery products were worth about 24.8 DKK billion (table 5).

Table 5 – Danish export value in DKK of fish products (1 USD = 4.8 DKK)






Crustaceans & Molluscs, live, fresh, chilled, etc. 3 114 488 648 852
Crustaceans and molluscs, prepared or preserved 2 170 546 452 197
Fish, dried, salted, or smoked 2 755 863 574 138
Fish, fresh, chilled or frozen 11 932 321 2 485 900
Fish, prepared or preserved 2 390 936 498 112
Meals 1 383 286 288 184
Oils 1 099 310 229 023
Total 24 846 750 5 176 406
Fish marketsDenmark is a major exporter of fish products. In 2007 it was ranked sixth in the world. At the same time, Denmark is a major importer of fish, which is processed and re-exported.

The Danish retail market for fish and fishery products is small when compared with the large quantities of fish that are processed in the country. The Danish annual per caput consumption is about 22 kilograms per year, which is close to the European average. In fact the Danish businesses that sell fish on the European market, find this market to be more attractive than the Danish market. The biggest markets are found in Germany and Italy (Figure 20). Investments by Danish fish traders are therefore often made in foreign markets, while fish marketing campaigns aiming to improve public health through increased fish consumption in Denmark are often supported by the Danish authorities.

Figure 20- Denmark — Danish exports of fish and fishery products by country (million EUR)
Figure 20- Denmark — Danish exports of fish and fishery products by country (million EUR)

Imports originate mainly from fisheries conducted in the North-east Atlantic area (Figure 21). Salmon and herring are imported from Norway, and cold water shrimp from Greenland and Canada. Whitefish has traditionally been supplied by Norway and the Faeroe Islands, but supplies are widening. Falling European supplies of cod are replaced partially by import of Alaska Pollack, from the USA and Russia, hoki from New Zealand and Pangasius from South-east Asia.

Figure 21 – Danish imports of fish and fishery products by country (million EUR)
Figure 21 – Danish imports of fish and fishery products by country (million EUR)

Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sectorRole of fisheries in the national economyThe fishing industry is of marginal importance. It contributes about 0.4percent of the Danish GDP. But the industry is important in certain regions and remote areas where fishing, with its up-stream and down-stream activities, generate employment where few other options are available.Supply and demandIn Denmark both the supply and demand for fish is determined to a large degree by foreign fishing and foreign markets. This double dependence is unusual. The annual consumption of fish in Denmark is 20 – 25 kg (live weight equivalent). This quantity is about average on a European scale. It is higher than in Germany (15 kg) and the UK (20 kg), but well below nations like Norway, Portugal and Iceland, where consumption per caput is about 51 kg, 55 kg and 87 kg respectively.Trade

ImportDanish imports of fish and fishery products support a large part of the Danish fish processing industry. The value of imports equalled 171percent of the value of the Danish landings in 2009. Imports arrive from foreign fishing vessels landing their catch in one of the Danish fishing harbours, or they originate in fish landed abroad, and then bought and brought to Denmark by ship or lorry. Figure 22 shows the distribution of the value of the import on various product groups in 2009. Three groups make up little over half of the imports. They are: whole fish, fillets and prepared-preserved fish.

Figure 22 — Danish imports of fish and fishery products by major product groups 2009 (mill EUR)
Figure 22 — Danish imports of fish and fishery products by major product groups 2009 (mill EUR)
Source: Danish Fishermen Association, The Danish Fisheries Directorate and Statistics, Denmark

ExportDanish fish exports are composed of a number of very different products (Figure 23). The three large groups - whole fish, fillets and prepared/preserved fish - make up 56percent of the exports, but fish meal and oil, as well as freshwater fish and various shellfish (Norway lobster, shrimps, and blue mussels) are also prominent.

Figure 23 – Danish exports of fish and fishery products 2009 by major product groups (million EUR).
Figure 23 – Danish exports of fish and fishery products 2009 by major product groups (million EUR).
Source:Danish Fishermen Association, The Danish Fisheries Directorate and Statistics, Denmark

Food securityFood security is not an issue in Denmark.EmploymentIn Denmark, the number of people directly involved in fisheries is less than 0.2percent of the population. Around 10 000 individuals are employed in catching, selling, processing and transporting fish (table 6). Employment was almost halved in the first decade of this century. There are several reasons for this. On the one hand the state of fish stocks have not permitted an increase in landings, while, on the other hand, there has been a constant increase in the productivity and efficiency of the harvesting and production units. Even if resources would have permitted constant landings availability, a reduction in the fishing capacity of vessels would have been needed.

Table 6 – Denmark - Employment in the Danish fishing sector

Source: Directorate of Fisheries, Denmark
2000 2008
Fishing 6 167 2 573
Aquaculture 1 085 547
Fishing industry, canning, filleting 4 894 3 392
Fishing industry, smoking an salting 1 778 1 088
Fishing industry, fish meal and oil 446 352
Fish auctions 269 139
Trading with fish and fishery products 3 030 1 680
Total 17 669 9 771

Rural developmentA portion of the young Danish population has moved from rural areas and small towns to large city centres. This phenomenon, together with the drastic reduction in number of fishermen and fishing vessels, has virtually emptied many of the former fishing communities. It has happened along the coasts of the inner Danish waters, on Zealand, on Funen and on the east coast of Jutland. Those fishermen who remain struggle to run a business in an environment where few engine workshops, net lofts, and auction halls are left. Often tourism has offered the only viable alternative for inhabitants of these small communities.
Trends, issues and developmentConstraints and opportunitiesA major challenge for fishermen and the Danish administration over the past decades was to match the capacity of the fishing sector with the catch quotas allocated to the Danish fishery. This process has been hard on the fishermen and has resulted in a dramatic cut-back in the number of vessels. However, this process seems to have been more or less completed in 2011, and further decreases in the fishing capacity of the Danish fishing fleet will only be needed to offset “technology creep”, that is, the increase in productivity per fishing vessel (and in shore-based production units), that technological development will bring about.

Future challenges will include requirements: (i) to reduce the environmental impact of fishing (bottom contact of trawls) and (ii) to reduce the emission of CO2 and other Green House Gasses to the atmosphere. Also, part of the North Sea has been declared a “Natura 2000 area”. It seems likely that trawling in this area will come under debate. Furthermore, the need to respect also other Marine Protected Areas will affect the performance of the fishing industry.

Fishermen and off-shore oil and gas extraction activities will continue to compete for access to fishing grounds. This has mainly been an issue in the North Sea, but recently the conflict has emerged in the Baltic Sea as gas pipelines have been laid.

The price of fuel will continue to be a heavy burden for Danish fisheries also in the coming years, as there is no clear alternative source of energy to power fishing vessels. Nevertheless several energy saving projects have demonstrated that significant reductions in fuel consumption are possible in the Danish fishing industry. One fuel saving development is the use of thin high tensile materials in trawls. This will reduce the surface area of the trawl and thus decrease resistance. Another is the use of flying trawl doors, which not only reduce resistance (as they do not rest on the bottom) but also reduce the impact on the bottom dwelling fauna. The EU is expected to agree on a major restructuring of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) in 2012. The Danish government has contributed proposals for the new CFP. One of its suggestions is to change from a quota allocation based on landings to a system based on catches. The intention behind this proposal is to reduce discards of quality fish.
Government and non-government sector policies and development strategiesThe mission and vision of The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries are as follows:Denmark is the fifth largest exporter of fish and fishery products in the world. 20 000 person are employed in the fishing, aquaculture and related industries in Denmark. Both fisheries and aquaculture are experiencing changes and development, and the production of fish and shellfish in the aquaculture sector is expected to show higher growth in coming years.

The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries works to ensure a sustainable development of the sector.

The key concern is to make the most of the quantity of fish available to Denmark. This means getting the maximum value from the fish catch and conserving resources. The use of optimal fishing methods – conserving catch and limiting discards - are important focal points.

There is a great potential for development in the field of aquaculture. Especially within saltwater breeding, more species will be raised in the future than is the case today. The greatest challenge in this type of production is to reduce the impact on the environment and on eco-systems.

The Ministry works for Danish fisheries and aquaculture through:
  • regulation and inspections of the fishing industry;
  • support for research in fisheries and aquaculture production;
  • support for the development of fisheries, the fish industry, fishery harbours and aquaculture; and, through
  • fish management and fishing licence arrangements for recreational fisheries.

Research, education and trainingResearchA major restructuring of Danish research took place in 2007. As a result the majority of research on fish biology is now part of the Danish Technological University (DTU). Previously it was handled by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries. The restructuring resulted in a merger of the Danish Institute for Fisheries Research (DIFRES) and the DTU, which became “DTU Aqua”. The various national and international obligations within research, monitoring and data collection are performed by DTU-Aqua upon request from the Ministry.

DTU handles fisheries and aquaculture, health and food safety, as well as environmental technology. Examples of research topics are:
  • Low-impact, selective and effective fishing methods;
  • Simulation models describing selectivity of different nets;
  • Energy-friendly fishing;
  • Models and tools for evaluating fisheries options and management;
  • Models for estimating the impact of fishing on ecosystems; and,
  • Indicators for the condition of and pressures on fish stocks and fisheries.
In the University of Aalborg the Institute for Innovative Fisheries Management (IFM) focuses on questions of governance within an ecosystem-based approach to marine management. IFM is specialised in cross-disciplinary collaboration. Main research areas in IFM are:
  • Fisheries co-management;
  • Social impact assessments; and,
  • Coastal community development.
Several approved technological institutes take part in fisheries research. Among them are FORCE Technology which has hydrodynamic expertise in ship hulls and propulsion systems and the Technological Institute (TI), with expertise in fish processing and environmental aspects of food production.Some of the above institutions are present in the fisheries centre in Hirtshals, The North Sea Science Park (previously known as The North Sea Centre). The large Norwegian science foundation SINTEF Fisheries and Aquaculture also has an office in the North Sea Science Park, where it manages a large 1 200 m³ flume tank.
Education and trainingYoung persons, 16–18 years old, who want to engage in fishing, must take a 2-year course to obtain a “Blue Certificate”. Older persons must pass a 3-week training course in safety and basic seaman-ship that is mandatory for everyone who wants to work on a fishing vessel.

A 2-year education for fishermen is offered at the Fisheries Training Centre in Thyborøn. Students are given basic training in safety and health, seaman-ship, navigation, engines, hydraulics, use of radio and other communication systems.

Fishing masters are trained at the Skippers School in Skagen, which provides courses for those who want to become Fishing Master of 3rd degree (restricted) and Fishing Master of 1st degree (unlimited), both according to international agreements.

Both of the above schools also run a wide range of vocational training courses.
Institutional frameworkThe ministry dealing with fisheries is The Danish Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries

Figure 24 — Organigram of the Danish Ministry of Fisheries
Figure 24 — Organigram of the Danish Ministry of Fisheries

Danish Aquaculture: http://www.danskakvakultur.dk.
Danish Fisheries Directorate: http://www.fd.fvm.dk.
Danish Fishermen Association: http://www.fiskeriforening.dk.
Danish Fishermen Producers Organisation: http://www.dfpo.dk.
Danish Food Industry Agency: http://www.ferv.fvm.dk.
Danish Seafood Association: http://www.danishseafood.org.
Danish Statistics: http://www.statistikbanken.dk, (contains detailed statistical information on the Danish society).
Fisheries Directorate: http://ferv.fvm.dk/fiskeri_og_akvakultur_i_tal.aspx?ID=3068.
Fisheries Training Centre: http://www.fiskeriskolen.dk.
Institute of Food and Resource Economics (FOI) at LIFE - Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen: http://www.foi.life.ku.dk/.
Institute for Innovative Fisheries Management: http://ifm.aau.dkFORCE Technology: http://www.forcetechnology.com.
Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries: www.fvm.dk.
Ministry of Fisheries: http://www.fvm.dk/fiskeriet_i_tal.aspx?ID=11142.
National Institute of Aquatic Resources: http://www.aqua.dtu.dk/English.aspx.
Pelagic Fishing Association.
Pelagic Producers Organisation.
Skagen Skipperskole: http://skawskip.dk.
Statistical Yearbook 2009: http://fd.fvm.dk/Publikationer.aspx?ID=24373.
Technological Institute (quality and environmental aspects): http://www.dti.dk.
The Association for Danish Fish Meal and Fish Oil Industries.
The Danish Agriculture & Food Council (description of Danish Aquaculture) http://www.agricultureandfood.dk.

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