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The Reykjavík harbour Christmas tree

Lights on the Reykjavík harbour’s Christmas tree on the Midbakki quay were lit last weekend. This maybe isn’t big news, except that the harbour Christmas tree has a long and special history behind it. It goes back to the Icelandic trawlermen who landed their fish fresh in German ports in the years after the Second World War.

The Reykjavík harbour tree is a gift from the city of Hamburg to Iceland and is dedicated to the seamen on those trawlers who sailed to Germany. The country was in a dire state after the war and Icelandic trawlermen were a welcome sight in German ports, often giving away ship’s stores and fish to people while they stayed. The German people have clear memories of this even today and in 1965 the Hamburg Port Authority decided to give Iceland a Christmas tree as a token of thanks for the goodwill shown by Icelandic fishermen to the people of Hamburg in the years following the war. This custom has been maintained since and the tree that had its lights switched on last week, is the 49th in the series.

Key market

There is a long tradition of exports of Icelandic fish to Germany. For many years, the trawlers sailed and landed fish direct to German ports, but this has now all but come to an end. Today fish is shipped both by air and sea.

‘There’s a growing market for our products in Germany, and the German market is one of our most important markets. We supply both frozen and fresh products, and are working daily to meet the requirements of supermarkets, wholesalers and canteens,’ said HB Grandi sales manager Davíd Davídsson.

The main species exported to Germany are redfish and saithe, as well as cod. Products are sold to a variety of outlets in both retail and wholesale sectors.

‘Germany is a very conscious and demanding market. Requirements regarding sustainable and responsible harvesting are increasing steadily. Our market position is set to improve still further with the IRF (Iceland Responsible Fisheries) certification that HB Grandi has for cod, haddock and saithe,’ Davíd Davídsson said.