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 Kommune Qeqertalik, 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 4 factories and 4 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 Kommune Qeqertalik. Climatic changes and increased investment in tourism, however, impose new requirements for the weather conditions, so that both larger and larger ships - for example modern cruise ships - can dock, cf. the section on "Tourism", which in the future is a focus area that will help to promote cruise ship tourism in the municipality.

In addition, Naalakkersuisut (The Greenland Government) has designated port authority areas, which must also be incorporated into the planning work of Kommune Qeqertalik.

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 Kommune Qeqertalik is shown on the main structure chart. The facilities are owned and run by Greenland Airports. Aasiaat operated via the airport, while the remaining towns and settlements have either heliport or helistops. whereas most settlements have a heliport or a helistop. 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.

To utilise the potentials in the towns of the municipality, the development of the air transport infrastructure is a key element - not least to promote tourism on the north Greenland west coast. 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.

The airport of Aasiaat is the only in Kommune Qeqertalik. With the Finance Act of 2019 it was decided that seven new regional landing airports will be established in Greenland. Three of these will be in Kommune Qeqertalik in the towns; Kangaatsiaq, Qasigiannguit and Qeqertarsuaq. Therefore, site investigations must now be carried out with the aim of finding the best location for future regional airports. This includes a study of earthworks, the aeronautical relationship with climate, wind and turbulence, EIA studies and a social impact assessment. In addition, both citizens and the municipality must be involved in Naalakkersuisut's location studies. This examines the best location in relation to the mountains, water and subsoil. Equally important is finding the ideal location as close to the town as possible. The future regional airports in the municipality will create a better connection between the three local towns and the capital city of Aasiaat, and thus with the rest of Greenland. The new airports are necessary for development of business and not least for promoting tourism, and can make transport between cities far cheaper.

Extractive industries

Development opportunities in the raw materials industry include both hydrocarbon and mineral resources, with a large number of exploration activities under way. There have only been actual mining activities in regard to minerals and only to a limited extent. In regard to oil and gas, the activities have so far been limited to exploration and preliminary investigations west of the Disko island and in Baffin Bay.

A relatively new industry is the production of water either from springs or by loss from floating icebergs. The water is used for the production of drinking water in bottles, beer, ice cubes, etc. In the municipality of Qeqertalik there are, among other things, a production site in Qeqertarsuaq.


Generally speaking, Kommune Qeqertalik 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.The areas surrounding Disko Bay will continue to be the hub of the tourism industry in the region, including the starting point for many of the Arctic experiences and attractions - sleigh rides, cruises, whale watching, northern lights, hiking and settlement visits.

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.

One of the biggest changes in the planning period is the new and larger airport in Ilulissat, changing from being the exclusive domestic airport to and able to accept the major international aircraft. A change that will have a big positive impact on tourism for the entire Kommune Qeqertalik, as well as for the neighbouring municipality of Avannaata Kommunia with easier accessibility to Disco Island and Aasiaat and other destinations.

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 municipality's road network lies exclusively in the towns and villages and comprises a network of primary roads, secondary roads, local roads and other private roads, as well as tracks and paths in the settlements.

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.

With the new municipal plan, the road structure in the municipality has been reviewed, with a special focus area updating road structure and road construction lines. This means upward as well as downgrading of a number of roads in Kommune Qeqertalik. Some roads are downgraded to create space for parking, while others are upgraded to improve accessibility. In addition, it must be ensured that the tracks in towns and settlements are kept free and of good quality.

Pedestrian conditions and Shared Space are also of great interest and a focus area in the planning period until 2030. Pavements and paths are constructed along the roads and the path system is expanded to improve pedestrian accessibility and create a good connection internally in the towns.

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