You have an outdated browser

Please update your browser

Update browser
Show news archive News & Seafood Insight

Greenland halibut – The foundation of Greenlandic settlements


While Greenlandic fisheries are most well-known for cold water prawns, Greenland halibut is the main source of income for many small scale fishermen in the settlements along the west and north coast. In addition, the fish is the country's second largest export product.

The inshore fishery for Greenland halibut in Greenland takes place in fiords and bays along the West coast's internal coastal zone up to 3 nautical miles from shore. Although the fishery takes place all along the West coast, it is concentrated in the North West areas of Disko Bay, Ummannaq and Upernavik, where Royal Greenland has recently purchased processing facilities. The fishery is carried out by app. 900 small scale independent fishermen fishing from dinghies (2/3) or small fishing boats. Each fisherman has his own vendor number and it is thus possible to trace fish back to fisherman and catching area. Most fishermen deliver their catches directly to the local Royal Greenland factory or cold store in the small settlements.

Long line is the most common fishing gear for Greenland halibut, around 93% of the fishermen use longlines. The remaining 7% is mostly gill net. Both are selective fishing methods and discards are thus less than 1% and by catch/retained species, such as cod, redfish and wolfish constitute just over 2% of the total catch. Retained species are mostly consumed locally.

Primary source of income

For many fishermen in the small settlements the Greenland halibut fishery, combined with hunting, is the primary source of income. As the startup costs are very low, it is a great opportunity for self-employment in tiny societies where job opportunities are limited. Therefore the fishery is of great importance to Greenlandic society in general, in order to maintain employment options in the settlements and villages.

Dedicated to Greenland halibut

Royal Greenland is owned by the Government of Greenland and thus the Greenlandic people and therefore, the company has a natural dedication to the Greenland halibut, which is so important for the country. Royal Greenland wants to be the North Atlantic Champion and the largest supplier of Greenland halibut. In order to be able to offer customers the best quality fish and the best cuts, Royal Greenland has recently invested in a number of Greenland halibut processing facilities in Upernavik and close by settlements. This will enable us to adapt production to demands from the market and show customers flexibility and security of delivery through increased access to fish.

Today, Royal Greenland's yield from the Greenland halibut production is 92%. It was optimized through diligence and attentiveness to detail from 84% in in the 2008/09 season. This maximizes the value of the catch and means that heads, tails, frills and fillets are sold and thus the only parts that are discarded are skin and bones.

Next news: The sweet and juicy fish from the North Atlantic