Greenland’s fishermen have demonstrated their anger at Royal Greenland’s drop in the purchase price of cod, accusing it of abusing its monopoly power.
On 1st November, angry fishermen paraded through the Greenlandic capital streets. The demonstration brought together between 200 and 300 people who came to express their dissatisfaction with the latest price cuts imposed by Royal Greenland, particularly on cod. Organized by KNAPK, the demonstration denounced in particular the monopoly situation of Royal Greenland and Polar Seafood. Similar demonstrations also took place in other parts of the island.
Fishermen in overalls and boots, members of KNAPK, the Greenlandic fishermen and hunters association, and supporters gathered in front of the Parliament building (Inatsisartut) in Nuuk.
KNAPK stands for Kalaallit Nunaanni Aalisartut Piniartullu Kattuffiat. This association, founded in 1953, represents the interests of Greenland’s fishermen and hunters. It believes that Royal Greenland is abusing its dominant position in the fishing industry to unilaterally set the purchase price for fish, which it considers too low. The Greenland government, Naalakkersuisut, is also targeted, as KNAPK members believe that the political class does not sufficiently defend fishermen.
The demonstration signals the frustration of fishermen who feel they have not been adequately defended by politicians, who did little to react when Royal Greenland reduced the price per kilo of cod. The price of fish fell from 10.75 DKK per kilo to 8.25 DKK at the beginning of October. An amount which, according to Nikkulaat Jeremiassen, Chairman of KNAPK, as reported by the Greenlandic newspaper Sermitsiaq For fishermen to have a fair chance, prices per kilo must be 12 to 14 kroner per kilo, and if this is not possible, then Inatsisartut and Naalkkersuisut must provide subsidies to fishermen as long as prices per kilo are so low”.
KNAPK reported Royal Greenland, the island’s main fishing company, to the Danish Consumer and Competition Authority in an attempt to challenge politicians. A move that could delay a possible intervention by Naalakkersuisut, as Kim Kielsen pointed out at Semitsiaq following the demonstration: “We must wait for the decision of the Competition Authority on the reported case of the formation of a cartel before we, Naalakkersuisut, let us take concrete action in this matter. However, the minister in charge of fisheries called for dialogue between Royal Greenland and fishermen.
For Royal Greenland, the lower purchase price is justified by falling cod prices, due in particular to the 30% drop in Russian cod prices that has affected the world market, after cod prices reached record levels in 2021 and 2022. Moreover, in a recent press release, the organization pointed out that Greenland has only 2% of the world’s cod quotas, which limits its influence on price trends on the international market.
A substantial police force surrounded the demonstration, which was even filmed using a drone. The reason for this police presence could be linked to messages circulated before the demonstration on social networks calling on participants to carry weapons and “revolt strongly”. The anger is therefore very real, even if the demonstration took place peacefully.
Mirjana Binggeli, PolarJournal