Greenland launches various initiatives to remove and recycle derelict fishing gear

Lost and derelict fishing gear has a increasing focus around the world and Greenland is no exception. In 2019, several projects dealing with derelict fishing gear and the cleanup of fishing grounds has secured finance.

Greenland status:


Through the Government of Greenland’s Executive Order No. 4 of 30 March 2017 on Regulation of Fisheries through Technical Conservation Measures, fishermen fishing near the coast are obliged to clean up and remove derelict fishing gear. If attempts to do so prove unsuccessful, the fishermen are obliged to report the derelict fishing gear to their own municipality and to Greenland’s Fisheries Licence Control Authority (GFLK). Despite this initiative, GFLK states that the reporting of derelict fishing gear is not working as expected. The reporting system is currently paper-based, and the goal is therefore to create a digital solution in the near future.


According to Kujalleq Municipality, a fisherman was tasked with removing derelict fishing gear in the areas around Aappilattoq, Nanortalik, Qaqortoq and Narsaq last year, costing approximately DKK 300,000. WWF also conducted minor clean-up work in the Nuuk fiord last year in collaboration with KNAPK and Sermersooq Municipality.


Current initiatives concerning ghost net clean-up around Greenland:

Qeqertarsuatsiaat- Marraq efterladte bundgarn til torsk (7)


The Ministry of Nature and Environment has been tasked with drawing up a plan of action for the clean-up of ghost nets, pound nets, and other derelict fishing gear in fishing areas around all of Greenland. COWI will perform the work for the Ministry of Nature and Environment. The work includes interviews and data collection, seabed mapping, and GIS analyses to identify hotspots. In addition, the costs will be calculated and a socio-economic analysis of the collection of the designated hotspots will be conducted.

 In 2019, Avatangiisinut aningaasaateqarfik (the Greenland Environment Fund) has granted funds for a number of projects aimed at cleaning up and removing derelict fishing gear. Among others, these include:

 o   Qeqqata Municipality: Clean-up of ghost nets, derelict fishing gear, and other plastic waste on land along the coast, Sisimiut.

o   Qeqqata Municipality: Removing derelict fishing gear, Maniitsoq.

o   Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, KNAPK, and Sustainable Fisheries Greenland: Removing derelict fishing gear.

o   Maritime transport company Ikaartaat: Keeping the sea between Qeqertarsuaq and Aasiaat clean, collecting wood, fish crates, and plastics from the sea.

o   Avannaata Municipality: Clean-up efforts on fishing, tourist, and tent sites at Upernavik.


Qeqertarsuatsiaat- Marraq ophaling af gamle tilgroede langliner bliver meget tung og bliver derfor svært for en mindre fiskebåd at hale op (18)

According to Qeqqata Municipality, the preparations for the removal of derelict fishing gear are scheduled to take place near the Kangaamiut area in Kangerlussuatsiaq and at Sermilinnguaq near Maniitsoq as per the fishermen’s request. Both fiords are used for Greenland halibut fishing, but for several years the fishermen have been bothered by old fishing nets, and longlines accumulate there. The Municipality states they have received funds for a clean-up, but they have not yet acquired the right size vessel for the purpose. The equipment needed for the clean-up of derelict fishing gear is on its way from Norway. Furthermore, the Maniitsoq business consultant states that the Municipality will collect old fishing nets, which will be packaged with a view to recycling them at a later point. Furthermore, the fishing and hunting consultant states that the Municipality has been contacted by COWI, who will conduct interviews with the fishermen.

In Avannaata Municipality, the fishermen have started cleaning up longlines and fishing nets in Torsukattak, located north of Ilulissat near the village of Qeqertat, on their own initiative in collaboration with Halibut Greenland. The Torsukattak area is host to intensive Greenland halibut fishing.

In addition to these measures, the Ministry of Nature and Environment has stated that they have granted funds to 21 projects in Greenland in 2019, including seven projects dealing with derelict fishing gear and the clean-up of fishing grounds.

Qeqertarsuatsiaat- Marraq problemet med tabte fiskeredskaber er også omfattet af efterladte fiskeredskaber på land (9)

For the recycling of old fishing gears and nets, Sermersooq Municipality has taken the initiative to create receiving stations for the collection of recyclable materials which they will send to Plastix in Lemvig. Recyclable materials received or collected by the Municipality are old, dehooked longlines or trawls. In the spring, the Municipality had sent two 40-foot containers and more recently five to six 20-foot containers to Lemvig. The Municipality is not sure if it can continue to send the material, as the work to remove hooks and the shipping is expensive. The Municipality also states that they have learned from their European partners that sending ghost nets and longlines to recycling is not worthwhile in the long run. Sermersooq Municipality’s initiatives for the collection of old longlines and nets are currently limited to the city of Nuuk. This means that East Greenland and Paamiut, which are also part of the large Sermersooq Municipality, are not covered by the scheme.

This article was written by Augusta Jerimiassen from the Ministry of Fisheries, Hunting, and Agriculture, Greenland.

Published: 30.10.2019