Episode 2

Brim’s Sustainable Financing for Seafood

with Friðrik Friðriksson

Friðrik Friðriksson is a lawyer, living in Kopavogur, Iceland. He works as Brim’s Chief Human Resources Officer, giving him a broad advisory role within the company. He has worked within HR and collective bargaining for almost 20 years – most of that time within the fishing industry. As such, he serves as Chair of the Icelandic Responsible Fisheries Foundation (IRFF), which owns the IRFM Standard. He is also chair of the FISH Standard for Crew (fishstandard.com), a global association holding a labor standard that applies to the working conditions of fishers onboard vessels. Most recently, Fridrik and his team completed the overall audit of Brim’s Equal Pay Certification, which will be valid through 2025. Brim works to eliminate gender pay differences and to establish equality across its workforce.

Brim is one of Iceland’s largest seafood companies and has a long history and expertise in the utilization of natural resources and fish production. Brim focuses on the application of sophisticated fishing and processing technologies, and continuous product development while producing high-quality products caught in Icelandic waters. Respect for the environment and the marine ecosystem is the basis for all activities, and every effort is made to respect resources and operate responsible fisheries for the benefit of future generations. 

Brim joined the GSSI Global Partnership in 2016 and has worked with GSSI to promote the work of the organization, as well as the value of trust and transparency in seafood sustainability certification – enabling comparisons between certifications to be made easier, and providing consumers with the information they need to be able to make informed choices when purchasing seafood products.


Brim has been a supporting Partner of GSSI for quite some time now, can you tell us a little more about why you decided to join the Partnership?

As one of Iceland’s largest seafood companies, we have for a long time emphasized the importance of sustainability when it comes to seafood and fishing management. Brim has implemented a holistic sustainability policy focusing on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) matters to help manage its risks and opportunities. Striving for positive triple-bottom-line results for people, the planet, and prosperity, Brim is committed to continuing to contribute to and accelerate the transition towards sustainability.

Being a part of GSSI means being a part of a global collaboration of stakeholders, all working towards the sustainable future of seafood, and that is something we really care about. GSSI is a unique opportunity for us to collaborate with others and drive change towards a more sustainable seafood industry. A major drawing factor for us was that GSSI developed and operates the Global Benchmark Tool; this Tool really speaks to us and also relates to Icelandic fishing management. It provides confidence in certified seafood and promotes improvement in certification schemes by operationalizing FAO Guidelines on the Ecolabelling of Fish and Fishery Products and supporting the UN’s SDGs – something that we haven’t found anywhere else.

Being a part of GSSI means being a part of a global collaboration of stakeholders, all working towards the sustainable future of seafood, and that is something we really care about.

Why does Brim consider GSSI’s Global Benchmark Tool so valuable?

At Brim, we look to the FAO Guidelines for guidance. The Guidelines also lay the foundations for the internationally accepted rules for responsible fisheries management in the global arena with the support of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) conventions, which are of vital importance for a place like Iceland. The Global Benchmark Tool is underpinned by the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the FAO Guidelines for Ecolabeling of Fish and Fishery Products from Marine/Inland Capture Fisheries. These guidelines are globally accepted instruments that set the bar for responsible fisheries and the Tool provides a one-stop-place for certification schemes to ensure they meet that level. There is a lot of effort going into seafood sustainability in the certification space. Through the Benchmark Tool, GSSI aligns all these efforts relating to fishing management under a common language. The Tool provides harvesters, producers, and retailers with the opportunity to choose a certification scheme that is best suited to their needs, while still being recognized as robust and credible.

For Brim, all these aspects of the Tool are valuable. We need to respect the ocean to ensure that the fishing industry remains the mainstay of Icelandic society and economy, and the only way we can do this is by putting sustainability at the forefront of our operations.

The fishing industry is a key pillar of the Icelandic economy. Can you speak a little about the importance of responsible and sustainable fisheries in Iceland and what it means for the economy there?

For an island nation like Iceland, sustaining our natural resources in a responsible way is paramount to our future. Iceland’s history is built on the fishing industry. Marine products have been one of the country’s leading exports for a long time, and the seafood industry is still the backbone of the economy. For example, the fishing industry was responsible for about 6.5% of GDP, employed around 4% of the total workforce, and earned 43% of the foreign currency in 2020. Being responsible and having sustainable practices in place is a prerequisite for being part of the Icelandic fishing industry. Icelanders have developed an ITQ fisheries management system from the early 1980s to ensure responsible fisheries management, focusing on the sustainable utilization of fish stocks in Icelandic waters.

In 2021, Brim published a Sustainable Financing Framework (SFF), under which we issued both Green and Blue Bonds – financing projects that promote sustainability, and which have a positive impact on the environment in relation to the oceans.

← Brim Processing Facility 

Can you explain why the SFF is so significant for sustainable seafood development?

Brim recognizes the risk that climate change presents both to the sustainability of Brim´s economics as well as the fish stocks in Icelandic waters, and the company understands the role it must play to address these issues. Brim was the first fishery company in Iceland to publish a sustainability report in 2017 and has continued to publish one annually ever since. We have also highlighted key focus areas that will improve the sustainability of our operations, including careful use of catch quotas, growth, increased profitability, and collaboration with other companies in the fields of research, marketing, and sales.

In October 2021, Íslandsbanki issued sustainable bonds for Brim (ISK 5,000 million). The bonds fell under the company’s SFF for both green and blue bonds. Brim financed the following Project Categories (as detailed in the SFF):

  1. Clean transportation
  2. Information and communication
  3. Eco-efficient and circular economy practices
  4. Renewable energy

It is critical that fisheries confront and attempt to address the challenges we are facing – for the future of seafood.

It is critical that fisheries confront and attempt to address the challenges we are facing – for the future of seafood.

What kind of projects will be considered for these bonds, and how did Brim develop the criteria for these considerations?

In evaluating and selecting eligible projects and allocating sustainable financing, the company considered aspects such as human and labor rights, and the avoidance of significant harm to other environmental objectives as defined in the EU Taxonomy and other related internationally accepted environmental and social standards. Funding allocated to Blue projects (also known as eco-efficient and circular economy adapted products, production technologies, and processes) has been used for the refurbishment or new purchase of onshore or offshore equipment, technology, or facilities resulting in a reduced carbon footprint. This could include general funding of sustainable groundfish operations and assets with at least over 90% of the revenues from groundfish operations certified under the GSSI certification scheme, solutions to fully utilize all by-products from the fish processing to produce value-added products for human consumption, and/or other closing the loop on creating zero waste from production. Also, projects that increase the efficiency of operations can be included under the Blue Project label. One such project from 2021 was the upgrade of the Norðurgardur fish processing facility in which sustainably-caught groundfish is processed all year round.


Interested in learning more about Brim? Visit their website.

Reykjavík, Iceland