Danish fish and fisheries - a global industry



Denmark is surrounded by sea and is a nation with a long fishing tradition. Nowadays, it is fifth on the list of fish and fish-related export worldwide. In addition, Danish seafood cuisine is served in top restaurants all over the world.


Photographs: Unsplash

Text: Mariano Anthony Davies


The Øresund Strait between Denmark and Sweden is rich in herring, so Scandinavians cook this delicious fish in many different ways. You’ll find it fried in butter or with curry and other spices in Copenhagen. Pickled herring is one of the most common Danish dishes and is traditionally served for Easter lunch, accompanied by snaps and beer. Another common seafood recipe is “fiskefrikadeller” – fish balls made of codfish mixed with lemon juice, onions, dill and parsley. Scandinavians also enjoy a variety of salmon dishes, and shrimp is used as a dressing for specific traditional open sandwiches.


Long before the arrival of Japanese sushi, Copenhagen had a reputation for serving superb seafood. In fact, the town and its wealth were founded on the abundance of fish from the nearby Øresund.


For its size, the Danish capital Copenhagen has an extraordinary number of fish markets dotted throughout the city. Although the number of fish that the Danes eat has decreased slightly (mainly due to increased prices), they still eat just over 22kg per year, of which herrings are a significant part.



The North Sea and the Skagen areas account for 80% of the demersal catches.

A coastline industry

The fishing industry throughout Denmark operates around its coastlines from Jutland to the island of Bornholm. Although the overall contribution of the fisheries sector to the Danish economy is only approximately 0.5 percent of the country’s gross national product, about 20.000 people are employed in fishing, aquaculture and related industries. Fish is an essential ingredient within the Scandinavian diet and can be found in many local and national traditions and recipes.


Denmark’s coastline measures about 7.300 kilometres and supports three types of fishing industries – fish meal and fish oil, pelagic fishery for general human consumption and demersal fishery for white fish, lobster and deep-water prawns. Pelagic (open sea) fishing occurs near the surface, or at middle depths, whereas demersal (sea floor) fishing takes place on a sea, a lake or an ocean bed.


Fishing harbours throughout Denmark carry out pelagic fishing, whereas demersal depth fishing is concentrated in the harbours of Esbjerg, Thyborøn, Hirtshals and Skagen. The North Sea and the Skagen areas account for 80% of the demersal catches.


World-leading suppliers

Danish suppliers to aquaculture are world-leaders in solutions and technology for fish farms at sea and land-based facilities. These core competencies also include water quality monitoring, water cleaning and purification. They cover the entire value chain within the aquaculture industry - including solutions for handling by-products to optimise the use of the raw material.


Energy-efficient equipment

For the international fisheries industry, Danish suppliers and service providers have many years of expertise and experience. This expertise is within fishing equipment and technology (drawn from a long fishing tradition), and the fishing industry remains one of Denmark’s most important industries. The suppliers excel in environmentally friendly and efficient solutions, covering trawl doors, winches, ship engines, trawls, propellers, maintenance products and much more. These skills allow ship owners and operators to lower operating and maintenance costs and reduce their environmental footprints.


Hygiene and food safety

Danish technology and solutions for fish and seafood processing (both at sea and on land suppliers) have been developed over the years through a strong tradition of high-quality food production with strong requirements for hygiene and food safety. This has led to constant development in the field with solutions for optimisation and automation of fish and seafood processing to a maximum.


The Danish suppliers develop and offer state-of-the-art solutions for vacuum removal of fish guts, slaughtering, filleting, automatic shrimp peeling, food-safe transport band solutions, speedy freezing, automatic de-boning, weighing and size sorting.


Danish export – fish tech

Danish Export - Fish Tech has developed into a leading network of more than 100 Danish companies, gathering industry professionals and experts within solutions, equipment, technology and services for the aquaculture, fisheries, fish and seafood processing industry.

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