Iceland Arctic Charr

Sustainable product derived from sustainable resources

The following information is gathered and verified by Matís ltd., an Icelandic Food and Biotech R&D institute.

Iceland is the largest producer of Arctic Charr in the world and leading the way. The Arctic Charr is reared in crystal clear water using sustainable green energy. No antibiotics or other medical products are used in Arctic Charr farming in Iceland and it has not been genetically modified (GMO) in any way. According to The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch and Ocean Wise the Icelandic Arctic Charr is rated as a “best choice”. The Seafood Watch program and Ocean Wise help consumers and businesses to make choices supporting healthy oceans.

The Icelandic Arctic Charr is a high quality fish product kept and reared in land based farms under excellent conditions. It´s nutritional value is very high, especially for omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D, and is characterized as sweet flavoured.  

  • Origin
  • Farming of Arctic Charr in Iceland
  • No growth hormones or antibiotics
  • No genetic modification
  • Crystal clear water
  • Clean water
  • High quality product with excellent taste
  • Food safety
  • Low carbon footprint
  • Sustainable Green energy
  • Feed
  • FCR – Feed Conversion Ratios
  • Nutritional value


Arctic Charr is the most common and widespread salmonid fish in Iceland

Iceland Arctic Charr ( Salvelinus alpinus) is the name of farmed Arctic Charr in Iceland. It is one of the northernmost freshwater fish species, common around the Arctic, hence the name Arctic Charr. Of Arctic Charr there are known both anadromous breeds and breeds which remain in freshwater for their whole life cycle. Arctic Charr is the most common and widespread salmonid fish in Iceland.

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Farming of Arctic Charr in Iceland

Free from serious diseases of viral origin

Farmed Icelandic Arctic Charr meet all official Icelandic quality regulations relating to live fish and fishery products.  

According to MAST (The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority) no serious viral diseases have ever been identified in aquaculture in Iceland. This is considered to be unique in the world. The EFTA Surveillance Authority has previously recognised that Icelandic aquaculture is free from IHN viral disease and VHS. MAST has now requested confirmation from EFTA that aquaculture in Iceland is also free from ISA: a viral disease posing one of the main threats to salmon farming.

More information - The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority

No Growth Hormones or Antibiotics

Iceland is an isolated island in the North Atlantic which means few fish diseases harm Icelandic fish farming. Therefore no antibiotics or other medical products are used in Arctic Charr farming in Iceland.

More information - The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority

No Genetic Modification

The genetic material of the brood stock fish, or any other stage of development, has not been genetically modified (GMO) in any way.

More information - The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority

Crystal Clear Water

In the EU´s water framework directive, Iceland´s fresh waters are classified as a unique eco-region

Iceland has the highest renewable freshwater availability per person in Europe. Heavy rainfall, an average of 2.000 mm per year, and the fact that Iceland is the most sparsely populated country in Europe, means that there is abundant water per person and the majority of the population has access to plentiful freshwater supplies.

Over 95% of Iceland's drinking water is untreated groundwater extracted from springs boreholes and wells. Surface water constitutes around 5 % or less of Iceland's drinking water. Surface water used for drinking is obtained from mountain lakes and from river basins.

The freshwater resources are estimated to be around 170.000 million m3 of which 6 000 million m3 of groundwater are available for extraction.

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Clean Water

Analyses of drinking water quality – spring water, well water and surface water –show that the nitrate expressed as nitrogen concentration in water used for drinking is under 3 mg N/L, or less than 13 mg nitrate/L (NO 3); well below the 25 mg NO 3/L guideline.

Long-range air pollutants originate largely from industry, transport and agricultural emissions in Western and Central Europe. The nearest distances from Iceland to the European continent are 970 km to Norway and 798 km to Scotland. The country is thus far from the industrialized and heavily populated regions in Europe and is only mildly subjected to anthropogenic long-range sulphur (S) and N-deposition.

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High Quality Product with Excellent Taste

According to MAST (The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority) Icelandic Arctic Charr is reared in Icelandic farms which have been found to meet, in every respect, the official Icelandic quality regulations, relating to live fish and fishery products.

A consumer preference test by Matís showed that the Icelandic Arctic Charr scored very highly in overall appeal, with an average score of 8,2 (scale 1-9, 1=very bad,  9= very good ). According to the survey Arctic Charr was perfect in softness and juiciness. Sensory analysis at Matís shows that Icelandic Arctic Charr is mainly characterized by a sweet flavour and odour.

More information can be provided by Arnljótur Bjarki Bergsson

More information - The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority

Food Safety    

The implementing authorities for food safety regulations in Iceland are MAST (The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority) and the local Health Inspectors. Their roles are to promote animal health and welfare and the safety and quality of food. This is done by enforcing legislation and the provision of education and services to consumers, to businesses and to the fisheries and aquaculture sectors.

The regulating Icelandic food safety authorities (MAST and local Health Inspectors) follow Icelandic and EU regulations and work in close cooperation with EFSA (European Food Safety Authority).

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List of Health Inspectors


Low Carbon Footprint 

Carbon footprint of various food products measured with Life Cycle Assessment. Presented as kg of CO2 equivalents/kg

More information can be provided by Arnljótur Bjarki Bergsson

Sustainable Green Energy  

Iceland has adopted EU Directive 2009/28/EC, promoting the use of energy from renewable sources across Europe

Guarantees of origin specify the energy source from which electricity is produced. They serve to enable users of electricity to demonstrate that the electricity they buy is produced from renewable energy sources within the definition of the EU directive 2009/28/EC.

International compliance keeps track of monitoring and issuing of certificates within each country. Guarantees of origin can be traded in open markets, on a voluntary basis and separately from the underlying delivery of physical power.

In 2012 Iceland adopted EU Directive 2009/28/EC which has the main objective to promote the use of energy from renewable sources across Europe. With the implementation of this directive, Iceland has become a part of a European single market for guarantees of origin, and thus it is now possible to purchase Icelandic guarantees of origin (GoOs).

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High quality and of sustainable sources

Typical feed for Arctic Charr consists of 37 – 50 per cent crude protein (higher values for the smaller fish) and the energy content of the feed is varying from 17MJ/kg to 22 MJ/Kg.  In commercial farming of Arctic Charr the main protein source is fish meal representing around 50% of the total protein, with the reminder of the proteins originating from plant protein sources.  Fish oil is the principal lipid source in the diet supplying both energy and the important fatty acids EPA and DPA. Panaferd, which has full FDA and EU approval, is added to the feed to ensure the pink colour of the flesh.  The feed is further enriched with all vitamins and minerals to ensure optimal growth and normal composition of the product.  

More information can be provided by Jón Árnason

FCR – Feed Conversion Ratios

The Icelandic Arctic Charr is a very efficient meat producer with a comparably low FCR.  


More information can be provided by Jón Árnason

Nutritional value

The Icelandic Arctic Charr has an excellent nutritional value

Arctic Charr is as rich in protein as cod but higher in unsaturated fatty acids. The polyunsaturated fatty acids of Arctic Charr are mostly long chain omega-3 fatty acids.  Arctic Charr is very low in sodium.

Vitamin D

Arctic charr and salmon are rich in vitmin D compared to fish that contain less fat (red fish, wolfish, pollock). See the figure below. Recommended Dietary Allowances are (RDA) for vitamin D are 10-ug for most age groups. Hundred gram arctic charr fillet would give more than the Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin D.


Fatty acids

The figure below shows the quantity of fatty acids in Arctic Charr and a few other fish species. The sum of fatty acids for important fatty acid groups are shown. Arctic Charr is richest of the unsaturated fatty acids: monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon has similar composition. Cod and other low fat fish species contain low quantities of fatty acids compared to Arctic Charr.

Main constituents of fish (Proximates)

The energy giving constituents of fish are protein and fat. Other main constituents are water and minerals (ash). Fish are generally good sources of protein. In the figure below, Arctic Charr is the richest protein source. Fat (and fatty acids) are very variable as can be seen in the figure. 


Mercury (Hg) is a toxic element to humans. It is generally in low concentrations in fish from Iceland as can be seen from the figure below. Results for mercury in Arctic Charr are among the low levels. The mercury levels should be compared to the EU regulatory maximum value which is shown in dark blue in the figure. The Icelandic Arctic Charr is way below the EU maximum value.


Selenium is an important nutrient. Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for selenium are 40-55 ug for adults. Fish are generally good sources of selenium. Hundred grams Arctic Charr fillets would give 62-85% of the RDA.

Selenium protects against the toxic effects of mercury in the body. Therefore the high concentrations of selenium in fish is very important.

 More information can be provided by Ólafur Reykdal

More information in report (report summary in English): 
Nutrient value of seafoods – Proximates, minerals, trace elements and fatty acidsin products