A coherent focus on industries and the labour market – at national, regional and municipal level – is crucial to ensure a sustainable development of the municipalities, resulting in a strong economic foothold. Climate changes will generate both challenges and new opportunities – changes we have to live with and by within the primary trades: Fishing and tourism.
Fishing is the most important trade in Greenland – also in Avannaata Kommunia. In recent years, there has been much attention on increasing profits in the fishing industry – especially for the Greenland halibut – focusing on securing sustainability both in terms of economy and resources. The present trend points in the direction of larger modern fishing boats, placing pressure on traditional small boat fishing. On top of this, climate changes will influence fish species in terms of presence, habitats and population. Even small changes can have large consequences for the trade, which might have to adjust its fleet, tools and onshore facilities. On the other hand, new possibilities for development and earnings might arise, demanding attention and action.
In recent decades, the tourism industry in Greenland has experienced significant growth. In Avannaata Kommunia, we are aware of the unique qualities and potentials that we have in Northwest Greenland. Ilulissat ice fiord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a large attraction, and the area around Disko Bay has seen a large and professional tourism industry evolve in recent years. However, there is significant potential for growth. With the new Icefjord Centre, a renewed and greater focus will be on the tourism industry in the municipality in the future. Climate changes can prolong the tourist season and make it possible to develop new attractions further north, e.g. extreme tourism and dark tourism.
The Raw Minerals sector in regard to oil, gas and minerals, in the longer term, may be of greater importance for the development of municipal business and becoming a third primary industry in the future. Ice and water production are other potential raw material trades. There will be a strong focus on education and learning in the coming years, in order for the raw material sector to become a new primary industry in the future. However, with Planning Strategy 2017 it has been emphasized that the municipality currently has two main occupations; fishing and tourism.
Independent small businesses include, among other things, sealing and whaling – the original Greenlandic and arctic trade. For centuries, the sealing and whaling culture has played an important role in Greenland – financially, socially, culturally and identity-wise. Small towns and settlements still depend on local sealing and whaling, but the profession is under severe pressure and the number of sealers and whalers is declining due to climate changes etc. However, it is important to further motivate and commit independent businesses and entrepreneurs in Avannaata Kommunia. This is to be supported by means of a co-operation between the municipality, Destination Avannaa and local businesses. For instance, an enterprise house could provide diverse settings for innovation, counselling, co-operation and knowledge exchange.
Climate changes will make it possible to grow other and more varied agricultural produce in Greenland than previously. The municipality wants to continue to explore and stimulate any potential in Northwest Greenland, e.g. through spatial planning.