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A year in the North Atlantic


Fishery is a business subject to eternal seasonal variations. Being dependent on a natural resource means never knowing what tomorrow brings, however, meticulous stock management and experience leads to some degree of predictability. In the following, we will, as one of the largest operators in the North Atlantic, seek to give an account of the year that has gone for some of our main species as well as sharing our expectations for 2017.

Greenland halibut

As 2016 comes to an end, the Greenland halibut quota in West Greenland has nearly been reached. Fishery has been satisfactory and as expected in the beginning of the year. In their advice for 2017 biologists at Greenland's Institute for Natural resources state that, as a whole, the Greenlandic stock of Greenland halibut is growing, except in one of the large catching areas, Disko Bay. In Northern Greenland, stocks are stable and off shore they seem to be growing. Quotas for 2017 are expected to be set at a similar level to 2016.

Prices have risen slightly over the year, more so for the frozen-at-sea off shore products than for products made ashore. This is mainly caused by expected decline in total volume available next year as well as higher demand in the world market. Currently, frozen-at-sea products are sold before they leave the trawler.

In the new year, increased competition for raw material from other producers is expected. In general, we anticipate less total volume from Greenland and in order to accommodate to this challenge, we ensure high quality raw material from FAO27, primarily Norway, but the Faroe Islands and Canada are also options. This will ensure flexibility and safety of delivery of high quality products for our customers.

Cold water prawns

For a detailed account of the year in the prawn fishery go here.


2016 brought significantly more cod than expected, both in Greenland and the rest of the North Atlantic. Prices have been quite stable throughout the year; however, Brexit brought some uncertainty. The UK is by far the largest cod market for Royal Greenland in Europe and the vote to leave the EU lead to significant drops in the exchange rate and thus stumped trade.  It is expected that once the actual negotiations of terms for Brexit commences in 2017, it will cause further turmoil for the cod industry.

When it comes to the state of the cod stock in Greenland, there are some disagreements between biologists, authorities and fishermen. Biologists base their advice on data collected in the ocean around Nuuk and Sisimiut, but the fishery takes place in a vast area from southernmost Greenland to Disko Bay in the North. Recently, local fishermen have caught a lot of cod in Disko Bay, an area that previously only had sparse occurrences of cod. This could imply that cod are moving from their usual habitats and establishing new ones further north – much in the same way as is the case for prawns  – a situation which demands flexibility from both fishermen, producers and biologists.

Lumpfish roe

The Greenlandic lumpfish roe fishery season 2016 characterized by rough weather and as a consequence, a very short season with lower catches than usual. It is only possible to catch the lumpfish for a very limited amount of time when it moves close to the coast to spawn in early spring, when the ocean temperature starts climbing. If the spawning period coincides with bad weather, catches diminish.

There are two main catching areas for lumpfish roe; Greenland and Iceland, and the vast majority of product on the world market stems from one of these areas. This year, Iceland had the same weather challenges as experienced in Greenland, hence, the total volume of roe available is significantly reduced compared to earlier. Naturally, this is expected to have an influence on the price in the coming year.

Next news: Nutaaq Season 2016