Industry and infrastructure

Fishing and ports

All ports and places of call in the municipality are owned and run by the Government of Greenland. These facilities play an important role in the Greenlandic society, just as the primary trades, e.g. fishing and tourism as well as transport of goods, depend on them. While the ports differ greatly in size and facilities, there are three main types: Ports with Atlantic traffic, ports with feeder traffic and ports with settlement traffic.

The ports and the shipping traffic constitute an important link in the transport of goods globally as well as internally in Greenland. Royal Arctic Line A/S offers both goods transport services. While goods transported from Greenland mainly consists of fishery products, goods transported into the country consists of consumer goods and materials for the building and construction industry. Since 2009, the volume of goods has fallen considerably as a result of the global economic crisis

Fishing – particularly of shrimps, Greenland halibut and crabs – continues to be the main trade and of critical significance for the Greenland economy. This is true for Qaasuitsup Municipality, which geographically covers the greater part of the West Greenland coastline and is the home of the majority of the fishing industry's factories and purchase facilities. However, the falling world market prices have put a strain on the fishing industry, leading to an increase in fished volumes and a general structural change, e.g., in the affiliated industrial facilities. The largest operator, Royal Greenland, has carried out a centralisation, merging and closing production sites and trading facilities. Today, Royal Greenland has five factories and seven purchase facilities in the municipality. The changes in the fishing industry and the general recession since 2000 are clearly reflected in the population and the employment rates in the settlements where a large number of trading facilities have closed.

In future, it will take large investments in the fishing industry in order to be able to withstand the increasing global competition and the impact of the climate changes in the Greenland Sea. Investments are needed to regularly update the fishing vessel fleet, but very much to establish more and better ports including more trading facilities.

Last but not least, the ports play an important role in passenger transport and cruise tourism. The sailing activities vary according to the season, depending on the ice conditions, but peak in the summer half-year. The main operators in the passenger traffic sector are Arctic Umiaq Line, Disko Line and Royal Arctic Bygdeservice, which all operate in Qaasuitsup Municipality. However, climate changes and an enhanced focus on tourism places new demands on the navigation conditions to allow more and larger ships, e.g. modern cruisers, to arrive. See the section "Tourism".

Air traffic

Air traffic is a key element in Greenland's infrastructure, providing day-to-day transport of goods and passengers. The location of airports, heliports and helistops in Qaasuitsup Municipality is shown on the main structure chart. The facilities are owned and run by Greenland Airports. Typically, the largest airports are situated in the towns whereas most settlements have a heliport or a helistop. Only Uummannaq has no airport as this is situated by the settlement of Qaarsut at the Nuussuaq peninsula, approximately 25 km northwest of Uummannaq. All areas zoned for air transport are covered by regulated zones regarding safety, line of sight, obstacle clearance surfaces etc. Regulated zones are binding as regards land use, height restriction and thus also future urban development.

An international airport is high on the local agenda and is considered to be the decisive factor in the future development of the world's largest municipality. An Atlantic airport in Ilulissat will increase tourism and settlement volumes, thus creating new business opportunities and higher tax revenues. The town plan therefore includes an option for extending the present airport area.

To utilise the potentials in the towns of the municipality, the development of the air transport infrastructure is a key element. For the three towns of Kangaatsiaq, Qeqertarsuaq and Qasigiannguit, which are not currently operated by fixed-winged aircrafts, an investigation into the localisation of airports will be carried out in the coming planning period.

Extractive industries

In connection with the ongoing investigations in the license blocks in the waters west of Disko Island and in the Baffin Bay, 25 new subareas for offshore-related industrial and service facilities in seven towns and settlements in the Disko Bay and the Baffin Bay were established. The areas have been categorised as main supply bases or supplementary supply bases. Apart from areas for industry and ports, the supply bases include areas for prospective derived facilities, e.g. centre and residential areas.

The available space in the 25 subareas is considered sufficient to cover the demand in the planning period. However, the development plan for Ilulissat entails that, within a few years, the town might require a new port and therefore localisation investigations have started.

A number of employment opportunities will follow in the wake of the investigations, e.g. field assistants, kitchen assistants, cleaners, carpenters, plumbers, mechanics, machine operators, inventory clerks, crane drivers, computer staff etc. In the long term – in the development and production phases – employment opportunities will be even greater, some of which will be created by a number of derived industries, e.g. as sub-supplier to the extractive industries, the building and construction industry, the services trades etc. The challenge might be to provide sufficient and sufficiently educated labour which again makes demands on the school and educational system and on the local supply of labour.

Development opportunities in the extractive industry also include minerals with a number of on-going investigations, even though actual production only takes place in Maamorilik (the Black Angel Mine), which was reopened in 2008. In November 2010, raw material extraction was restarted after an interruption of 20 years. It is estimated that the mine contains enough zinc and lead for 50 years of mining. Operating at its highest, the Black Angel is expected to employ approximately 110 persons. No other areas in the open country have been zoned for mining etc.

Finally, a relatively new industry is concentrated on water production, tapping from springs or floating icebergs. The water is for bottled drinking water, beer, ice cubes etc. In Qaasuitsup Municipality, there is a production plant in Qeqertarsuaq, among other places.

Tourism

Generally speaking, Qaasuitsup Municipality has great tourism potential – probably the best in Greenland. Thus, tourism is a key factor in securing an economically sustainable basis for existence in the many towns and settlements in the municipality and for future investments in northwest Greenland. Ilulissat and the Disko Bay areas will continue to be the tourism centres in the region as the starting points for a number of arctic adventures and attractions, e.g. dog sledding, cruises, whale watching, aurora borealis and guided visits to the settlements.

There is great potential for further development, but this is closely linked to the supply, such as the location and the quality of airports and ports, accommodation etc. The same goes for the development of offshore-related industries, e.g. distribution and processing of raw materials, as well to the recruitment of labour. The town plan comprises a large number of unutilised area allotments that could constitute the necessary basis for a future development of the tourism industry.

Climate changes might result in easier access to areas in the open country and navigation to some of the ports for a larger part of the year. As a result, there is a growing interest in building holiday cottages and similar tourist facilities on attractive locations along the coast, e.g. in Disko Bay where the town plan zones new hut and holiday cottage areas – see the section "The open country".

Finally, the town plan defines a number of sledge tracks, paths and hiking trails to support the tourism industry. The intention is to extend and develop the network of paths and hiking trails in the open country and to secure the sledge tracks.

Sledge dogs play an important role in the tourism development. Thus, most towns and settlements have unbuilt areas to be used as dog tethering places – or even ‘dog islands’. In the future, securing the existing places will be given priority just as some of the places are to be extended. In the next planning period, common municipal dogs and cats by-laws will be prepared and transposed into the town plan to reflect the areas needed.

Other industries

Apart from fishing-related facilities and plants, the many areas for industry and port in the municipality are to hold a number of other industries, e.g. skilled trade and service trades, storage, transport and production. In the small towns and settlements, these areas are located along the coast, while in the larger towns, industrial areas are located inside the urban area. To reduce noise and enhance security, distance requirements often apply to tank farms and stores in industry and port areas.

The overall available space for industrial area is approximately 480 ha throughout the towns and settlements in the municipality, which is estimated to be sufficient to cover the land requirement within the 12-year time frame of the town plan. Consequently, the town plan does not allow for new industrial area allotments.

Road system

The road system in the municipality only extends to the towns and settlements and comprises of primary thoroughfares, secondary roads and other roads.

The intention is to extend the road system in step with the overall urban development including new residential and industrial areas and especially ports, airports and heliports – the backbone of the Greenland infrastructure. Over time, climate changes might present opportunities for building roads between some of the closest located towns and settlements in the municipality, thus promoting the mobility of the citizens. The Government of Greenland is responsible for investments in major road systems.

The existing road system and any projected roads are shown on the main structure chart of the towns and settlements.

Qaasuitsup Kommunia · Postboks 1023 · 3952 Ilulissat · Grønland · www.qaasuitsup.gl · E-mail: plan@qaasuitsup.gl · Tlf.: +299 947800
Last edited 28-1-2014