“Fish Leather” is not only helping the fashion industry reduce its impact on the environment, but it is also improving the livelihoods of fishing communities around the world.― Jackie Alder of
By Beth Timmins, May 2, 2019
Steinunn Gunnsteinsdóttir admits that it took her family more than a few attempts to be able to make leather from fish skins.
“The first 200 times we just made smelly fish soups,” she says.
Ms. Gunnsteinsdóttir is the sales manager of Icelandic company Atlantic Leather, which owns the only fish tannery in Europe.
Overlooking a fjord on Iceland’s remote north coast, since 1994 it has been processing the skins of salmon, perch, cod, and wolffish.
The tanning process takes between three and four weeks, and 19 employees now produce 10,000 skins, or nearly a tonne, of fish leather a month.
“The fish smell disappears in the early stages, then it smells like any other leather,” adds Ms. Gunnsteinsdóttir, who is the daughter of the founders.
The company gets all its fish from sustainable stocks, via Icelandic, Norwegian and Faroe Island fishing fleets, and unlike the worst examples in the global cow leather industry, its tanning process is as environmentally friendly as possible.