Sisimiut - 21, 22 and 23 September 2018

About: Fishing techniques in Greenland

Fishing techniques in Greenland

Due to its versatility and efficiency, trawling is the most used fishing method today. A trawl consists of a large cone-shaped net that is held open by large metal plates called trawl doors. The trawl can be towed by one or two vessels. There are several types of trawl adapted to the fish species that you are attempting to catch.

Longline fishing has been used in Greenland for centuries. Fishermen use a long line with many baited hooks. The line is marked with buoys and held down with anchors. During the summer, fishing is done using small dinghies and fishing boats. In winter, the fishermen ride out on the frozen fjords on their sledges, cut a hole in the thick ice and lower their long lines through the hole. A few hours later the line is taken in and the catch transported to our factories by dog sled - with up to 400 kg of fish per load. Longline fishing is a very selective method and results in very high quality fish, as they are caught individually. The primary species caught on longlines in Greenland are halibut with the Atlantic catfish and redfish as a valuable by-catch.

Pound net
Pound net fishing for cod is very common in the coastal areas of West Greenland. Net enclosures are fastened to the coast and fjord beds with anchors. The cod are able to enter the enclosure, but cannot get out again. The pound net is emptied every other day by hauling the net in and so making the net smaller, which makes it possible for fishermen to scoop the fish up in their small boats with a landing net. The fish are sorted by size in the boat and those that do not meet the minimum size of 40 cm are put back into the fjord alive. In this way you can supply high-quality, fresh fish to the factory on land without the by-catch of other species and undersized fish. At the same time the fishing method is fuel-efficient, as it uses small boats and dinghies.

Gill net
Another type of fishing method that is also commonly used in the inshore fishing industry in Greenland for halibut is net fishing with gill nets. Gill nets consist of long nets that catch fish either by them getting trapped by the gills or tangled up in the net, depending on the mesh size and how tight the net is set. Plastic floats are tied along the top of the net and the bottom is fastened with either weights or rope with a lead core, which means that the net is held vertically in the water. The net’s mesh size is adjusted to the species you want to catch, as well as the desired size, so that only the head and gill flaps can pass through and so catch the fish. The advantage of gill net fishing is that when setting the tension of the net, you can very precisely control the type and size of fish that are caught. Therefore, only a few young fish are caught that have not yet spawned. When the net is emptied the method often provides high quality fish. Furthermore, only a little energy is used by gill net fishing, as it is often done from small boats and without the use of electrical equipment.

Pots, also called traps are usually a metal frame covered with a net. The pots are baited, for example, with cod and they have a small opening where the catch can come in, but not out again. The pots are either set individually or attached to a long line with buoys on each end. The pots are allowed to sit for a while and then they are hauled in and the catch taken out. Pot fishing has very little impact on the marine environment and is very selective. The catch is landed alive for maximum quality. This method is mainly used to catch crabs and lobsters.