Faroe Islands – Nordafar

NordafarThe Nordafar Fishery Operation at Føroyingahavn
During the 1950ies and 1960ies the Greenlandic fishery and supply station at Føroyingahavn, the Faroese name for the Faroese Harbour, was of considerable size and importance. The station was the result of a co-operation between Danish, Norwegian and Faroese interests starting in 1953. The operations at Nordafar at Føroyingahavn carried on for two successful decades until big changes in the nature took place causing the dramatic dwindling and the almost disappearance of cod stocks. This had a disastrous effect on Nordafar and for the future of the company. For the sake of understanding it has to be mentioned that Greenland was and still is a part of the Danish Kingdom and thus under the jurisdiction of Denmark. In order to protect and safeguard the Greenland people and its interests and to avoid too much contact with the outside world all foreign companies, including Faroese although the Faroe Islands is a part of the Danish Kingdom, had to apply for a licence and a location in Greenland to carry out operations. This very strict policy was adhered to until after the Second World War when it was reformed. The legalisation was subject to criticism and looked upon as an obstacle for developing business in Greenland. Føroyingahavn was a result of this policy. The area in West Greenland was early allocated suitable for Faroese fishing vessels to seek shelter and emergency harbour during fishery in Greenlandic waters. Later Faroese were allowed to establish themselves on shore and the activity started. Faroese interests gradually improved Føroyingahavn to become a harbour with facilities such as a small hospital, a seamen’s home, mechanical work shop, black smith, chandlers etc. In 1937 Føroyingahavn was declared an open harbour where vessels of all nationalities could call and use. When the closing of Second World War both Norwegian and Faroese interests again paid attention to Greenland and the new possibilities arising with abuncing cod stocks and good market outlets. The Danish Asgrico company together with the Norwegian A/L Udrustning established during 1949 a new supply and trans-shipment harbour south of Nuuk in the Kangerluarsoruseq fjord primarily to serve Norwegian interests. Simultaneously Faroese fishing interests decided to establish and construct their own large station in the original Føroyingahavn at the entrance to the same fjord. Norwegian interests joined the company and the A/S NORDAFAR was established. Considerable investments took place in A/S Nordafar with a large salt storage, freezing capacity was installed and later a very modern filleting plant and a fish meal plant were opened. Nordafar was open and running during the six ice free months of the year. It created a considerable business environment with many employees and with many calls of fishing vessels discharging their catches to Nordafar and numerous calls of foreign freighters and vessels as well. The filleting plant was opened in 1959. It was supplied with fresh fish from Nordafars own fishing fleet as well as the many Faroese who went to Greenland with their own open boats to join in the abundant cod fishing. Nordafar was running very successfully and profitable during the 1960ies receiving daily catches from over 1000 fishermen when running at full speed. Nordafar had over 200 employees at the plants and operations on shore. There were long working days with a good profit and high satisfaction for all involved. In the early 1960 Nordafar also started to take on Greenlanders in their on shore operations, these were mainly from the Umananq and the Upernavik areas. Greenlanders also joined in the inshore fishery discharging their catches to Nordafar. Clearly Nordafar had a significant important and effect for the development of the modern Greenland.  Nordafar also had the largest salt store in Greenland coming in very handy as salt was much used by the Greenlanders themselves. When A/S Agrisco, which had become a partner in Nordafar, left the company in 1960 the Royal Greenland Company was asked to join but declined the offer due to their own plans in the Nuuk area. Accordingly the Faroese company the L/F Grønlandsfelagið and the A/L Udrusting became owners with 50 % share each. In 1975 the Norwegians sold out and the Faroese then became sole owners of Nordafar. The Nordafar had peaked and the decline came quickly. The cod was rapidly disappearing and the company was running with a loss and little activity. The owners hoping for better times and improved catches decided to keep the company afloat. The Faroese Government several times financially supported the company realising the paramount importance of Nordafar for the Faroese economy. With the disappearing of the cod the prawn stocks grew rapidly and a large trawler fleet, mainly manned with Faroese officers started. This  gave some activity at Nordafar for some years with prawn peeling,  but in the long run it was not sufficient and not economic viable and then stopped. During the 1980 the Governments of Greenland and Faroes had talks of a joint operation of Nordafar but nothing materialised and in 1990 Nordafar was put into liquidation and the assets sold at a forced auction. A most glorious period for Faroese industry and innovation in the 20th century had reached its final chapter.


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