Hunters on Greenland are becoming Fishermen
– In the last 4 years, the politicians on Greenland have not achieved any good results for Qaanaaq, says Qulutana Kvist, one of many hunters forced make a living out of fishing.
Sponsored by Fritt Ord and Aircontactgruppen, the Nanoq project will present some of the challenges that hunters from North Greenland cope with today. Most of the people we have interviewed mention fishing as a possible income in the future. So we went out fishing with Kvist and his son earlier this year. Check out halibut-ice-fishing in the video:
– There are many people out of work here in Qaanaaq. Some try to fish, like me. There are no other places to get work, at all. Tourism has almost vanished. It used to be very good. Sometimes as many as five airplanes from Canada would land on the ice in one day. Then we would take the tourists around with our dog teams. After the airport got built, that all disappeared – because the airport started charging landing fees. I think this is one key factor keeping tourism away from Qaanaaq.
Qulutana Kvist says their only hope to improve their future is their new factory.
– I started fishing when I was a small boy. And today I still fish. Today you can not survive alone on hunting. More and more hunters are becoming fishermen. You can earn more because our area is full of halibut.
– Can you tell me a little bit about how you fish?
– I bring a small shanty out onto the ice to fish from. After collecting bait, I set my gear into the Sea. I can only start to fish after the Sea freezes over. I learn from every experience on the ice. Today, my line is very long with many hooks. But that can vary too. Sometimes I keep my line out for 3 or 4 hours. I have about 70 hooks on my line, each spaced 1-arm length. I like to use “ammassat”, a very small fish, for bait. But I can not buy them anymore. So I use “uukkat”. It is our own local fish from here. Sometimes I have to buy other fish from the store.
– How much do you fish during the winter?
If I have a place to sell my fish, I would like to fish until the Spring when the ice melts . I would like to fish from January to July. But there is no place to sell the fish, so I don´t know.
– How is the future of Qaanaaq and your kids?
– It is hard to predict the future of Qaanaaq. We hope our collectively-owned factory will help us earn a salary by buying our narwhale and halibut. We also hope to sell other kinds of meat to the factory. For now, it is difficult to think about Qaanaaq’s future. Building a future with our collectively-owned factory is really the only hope we have right now.
Written and filmed by Torgeir S. Higraff
Translated by Navarana Sørensen & proofread by Ian Naysmith