Qeqertat is located by a small bay at the westernmost part of Harward Island, in the inmost part of Inglefield Broad (Kangerlussuaq) – some 65 km east of Qaanaaq. The settlement belongs to the area formerly known as Orqordlit: the lee-side dwellers in the Whale Sound area. The settlement’s name means “the islands”.
The settlement is very much a sealing and whaling community, which offers great sealing and whaling conditions. Qeqertat’s role and future have been and remain uncertain, since it numbers few permanent residents and lacks basic utilities. At peak periods, many people visit the settlement to hunt or fish, so the population itself is not the only factor worth considering when assessing the settlement’s role and importance.
When the fiord is ice-free in the summer, large schools of narwhals enter the fiord to feed and breed. The north- and east sides of the island offer views to gigantic icebergs and the large glaciers that extend from the inland ice some 16 km from Qeqertat.
The aim is to maintain the settlement’s current functions and housing, but no urban development per se is to be launched, other than ongoing trade initiatives relating to the Greenland halibut. Depending on the settlement’s actual potential in fishing, production facilities and a trading spot should be established. In that case, supplies and infrastructure are to be improved considerably, but the main focus is to be on running new facilities and maintaining housing and service functions. No matter what, priority should be given to initiatives regarding housing standards, supply and the environment, to the benefit of the citizens and the area as a whole, including clean-up of solar fuel drums. Furthermore, the settlement’s functions are to increase its interplay with Qaanaaq.
(In the long term, the settlement may play a role as an active industrial area in the open country due to the difficult access conditions in periods with unsafe sea ice.)
On 1 January 2017, Qeqertat had 28 inhabitants. Compared to 1980 figures, the population of Qeqertat has gone by 40 per cent, typically ranging from 20 to 30 inhabitants. The population may be considerably larger in the summer, when the settlement is a starting point for narwhaling, and in the winter, visitors may be plentiful thanks to the good conditions for fishing the Greenland halibut near the settlement.
The three settlements in the Qaanaaq area number 45 households and a total of 145 inhabitants. The average household size is 3 persons. In Qeqertat, the average household size is 4.
On 1 January 2010, there were a total of 119 houses in the three settlements. 117 were detached single-family houses, whereas two houses were unaccounted for. In other words, the settlements exclusively offer single-family houses. The settlements have no dormitories or senior housing, and several houses are in need of redevelopment or rehabilitation.
The population – i.e. the number of permanent residents – is not expected to increase in the years to come, and the planning period primarily calls for replacement buildings in connection with redevelopment. The settlement has available space for 40 homes, which covers the demand in the planning period up until 2026.
The key income source is sealing and whaling. Narwhaling takes place from August to September at the bottom of the Inglefield Fiord or Kangerlussuaq (the great fiord). Tourists are offered trips to the settlement to experience traditional narwhaling.
Occurrences of the Greenland halibut have been found near the settlement, and currently efforts are made to start up fishing Greenland halibut. However, the settlement does not have any production facility, freezing store or trading place, so the fish is transported to Qaanaaq for trading. There is no port with fixed constructions, so there is no designated port authority area.
Other than fishing, sealing and whaling, only the school and the shop offer jobs in the settlement.
The town plan includes some 500 m2 of available space for industry and port purposes.
The unemployment rate in 2015 in the Qaanaaq district, with its 17.8%, was the second highest in Avannaata Municipality, only exceeded by the town of Qaanaaq (22%). This is thus much higher than both the municipal average (9.1%) and the national average (9.1%).
In the summer, the settlement is reachable by ship, and a supply ships calls on the settlement once a year. There is no port and loading/unloading takes place on the beach. For the rest of the year, transport is by helicopter, and the settlement has a helistop. The settlement is not part of the settlement aircraft services.
The settlement has no real system of roads, merely paths built by local materials. There is a definite need for an actual road to the dump. Dog sledges, snowmobiles, cars (on sea ice) and power boats are the primary means of transport.
There is no power plant in the settlement. The school, among other buildings, has a generator to produce power. There is no filling station in the settlement, which is supplied by means of drums of gasoline, solar and paraffin oil.
There is no sewerage and grey wastewater is discharged above ground. There is no organised day-time refuse or night-soil collection. The dump is located in E2, but lacks a road connection. Water supply consists of everyone collecting water or ice. Heat is produced by means of paraffin heaters or oil-fired burners.
The settlement features a battery-powered aerial network and a radiophone belonging to the municipality. There is neither cell phone nor Internet coverage.
The settlement features a small shop/store and a nursing station/settlement consultation post, but no settlement office, service house or fire shed.
The town's school, Qeqertat Atuarfiat, has approx. 5 students who have the opportunity to go to school through 6th grade, after which pupils are sent to Qaanaaq. Teaching takes place at pupils’ homes with temporary teachers, or at the school room, which also acts at the settlement’s church. The school was rehabilitated in 2013, including new windows, ship heaters, floor insulation and IT equipment.