Economy and industry in Greenland
Overview over economical activities
The export in Greenland amounts to app. 322 mio. euros and the main part hereof (85 %) consists of fish and shellfish making the Greenlandic economy fragile to the international price development. In 2006 almost 50 % of Greenland’s export came from cold water shrimp and the rest from Greenland halibut and cod. In 2004 export of gems and minerals was revived and consisted in 2006 of app. 7 % of the export containing mainly gold and olivine.
Another important part of the Greenlandic economy is the annual block grant on app. 470 mio. euros allocated to Greenland from the Danish State.
For further statistics see www.statgreen.gl (English section)
The Greenland Government and four large companies join in efforts to promote Greenland, Please visit www.greenlandexpo.com
Fishing is the lifeline and primary industry of the Greenlandic economy. The most commercial resources are shrimps, Greenland halibut and others. The fleet consists of about 850 vessels of various sizes and there is an estimated figure of 5000 smaller boats. Greenland has the legislative competence for the fisheries sector and fishing is regulated by quotas and licence regulations on the basis of biological advice to ensure a sustainable use of the natural resources. The Total Allowable Catch (TAC) is set in accordance with the biological advice from the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources as well as NAFO, NEAFC and ICES.
The private Polar Seafood Ltd. and the government owned Royal Greenland Ltd. are the two biggest companies and the have several factories and companies in different towns and in several countries in Europe.
Greenland has individual fishery agreements with the EU, Faroe Islands, Norway and Russia.
Hunting and agriculture
Until the beginning of the 20th century hunting for seal, whale and other mammals had been the most important source for survival of the Greenlandic people. Today app. 10 % of the workforce is directly or indirectly involved in the hunting industry.
The primary resources in coastal towns are seals and large whales (e.g. minke, fin whale and small whales (e.g. narwhale, white whale and harbour porpoise). Hunting for whales is regulated by quotas from the International Whaling Committee, IWC, and only persons with licence and approved equipment are allowed to hunt whales.
Several kinds of seabirds like guillemot, eider and others are hunted for the local market as well as the grouse, arctic hare, musk ox and reindeer. Seals are hunted for the meat which is an important part of people’s diet and the fur for is used for clothes and the national suit.
Energy and minerals
It’s important for the Greenlandic economy to find alternative sources of income and attract foreign investment to supplement the traditional hunting and fishing industries. In this context effort has been put in to developing the sector of energy and mineral resources. A gold mine, “Nalunaq”, opened in Southern Greenland in 2002, and an olivine extraction was initiated in 2005 near Maniitsoq in West Greenland.
More than 200 years of collection and study of minerals in Greenland has led to the discovery of gold, rubies, diamonds, coppers, olivine, marble and oil, and no less than app. 75 new mineral species are found. It is estimated that the future will bring a possibility of exploiting the reserves of diamonds, platinum, and last, but not least, oil and gas reserves.
In order to become less dependent on the import of oil, Greenland has utilized its hydropower potential by building hydropower plants in Nuuk, and Sisimiut providing the towns with electricity. It has been decided that in the near future more plants are going to be constructed. For further information please contact the Home Rule Department is Bureau, Minerals and petroleum www.bmp.gl
Further more two new mines are expected to be opened, please read more in the news section.
For the last two decades focus has been put to the tourism industry in Greenland.
You can now go on airway from Denmark, Iceland or USA to Greenland. Cheaper travel packages have been created and since the 1990’s the number of tourist has risen from 3.500 to app. 35.000 annually. The biggest advantage for Greenland is its beautiful and unspoiled nature which makes Greenland quite different and in its own way “exotic” from other travel destinations.
The future challenge for Greenland will be to get more tourists and at the same time make sure to keep the nature intact, which includes a greater awareness of environment and sustainability.