Ecosystem overviews

Greenland Sea Ecosystem Overview

Social and economic context

Overall, Greenland's fisheries sector is an essential industry of economic, political, social, and cultural importance and the economies and residents of many settlements depend on it. There are two categories of fisheries that account for 95% of the country's exports: an inshore fishery important to local communities, and an offshore fishery composed of larger vessels particularly important to the economy of Greenland.

Offshore fishing is carried out by about 40–60 large factory vessels (50+ metres in length). Vessels from the EU, Faroe Islands, Norway, and the Russian Federation operate in the ecoregion according to bilateral agreements, with Greenland taking the majority of the catches in recent years. Since 1980 and in the past decade, production in both inshore and offshore fisheries in Greenland has maintained a positive growth trend. Less than 10% of the total population live in East Greenland and are dependent on inshore fishery and hunting. These activities are limited and spatially separated from the offshore activities.

In the 1970s, a dual fishery policy allocating direct subsidies to fisheries was introduced to support both the emerging nation-state and indigenous coastal Greenlandic societies. Greenland's economy is vulnerable, due to its strong dependence on a fishery industry susceptible to both overfishing and fluctuating market prices. The main challenge, therefore, is to diversify the Greenlandic economy by placing more emphasis on the growing tourism industry. ​​​

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Greenland Sea Ecosystem Overview

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