THE total value of fish catches by Icelandic vessels increased by more than 25 per cent during the first three months of this year, figures from the country's office of statistics show.

Income from fish landed by all trawlers between January and March was 47.3 billion Icelandic kroners - or 240-million in sterling ( some 300 million euros).. The figure for the same period last year was 37.6-billion kroners or 190-million (238-million euros). The value of cod alone, Iceland's most valuable fishery, was up by 17.6 per cent 81.6 million ( 102 million euros) but the value of haddock landed increased by almost double that at 32 per cent.

In fact total demersal fish landed was 147-million (184 million euros), while pelagic fish, including the controversial mackerel catch, accounted for 74.4 million (93 million euros).

The figures will make encouraging reading for the fishing industry which is battling with the Reykjavik government over a steep increase in fishing licence fees and reform of the quota system. While landings have increased much of the increased catch value comes from higher fish prices which is of course creating problems for seafood processors in Europe and the UK, both struggling with the recession.

The fishing industry is clearly making a significant contribution to Iceland's economic recovery following the banking collapse of three and a half years ago. catches in May this totalled 65,000 tons - up by 50 per cent on the same month in 2011. Confidence is returning to Iceland following what seemed an unsolvable mess back in 2008. In the next couple of years Icelanders will vote on EU membership. The fishing industry is firmly opposed and so too is the majority of the population by a small margin Much will depend on how bitter the mackerel dispute between Iceland and the EU becomes.