With most business generated by booming pelagic fisheries and salmon farming, and with several major developments underway, Faroese ports are busy as never before — while opportunities in merchant shipping become too obvious to ignore.
With the massive amounts of mackerel fished and handled annually by the Faroese nowadays — 150,000 tonnes or thereabouts — you would think Faroese logistics handlers were up to their ears. Now add the dramatically increased blue whiting catch quota, of which the Faroe Islands has been allotted a whopping 288,549 tonnes this year (2014) — alright, in practical terms more like just over 200,000 tonnes as 70,000 tonnes are traded with Russia for Barents Sea cod and a few thousand tonnes are spent on a couple of minor bilateral arrangements with other countries.
That’s 350,000 tonnes not counting other species nor even farmed salmon, which is huge. So anyone can imagine that these are extremely busy times not only for the country’s impressive pelagic catch sector and associated onshore processing industry but indeed also for the whole transport and logistics infrastructure.
For this reason ports, shipping companies, cold storage facilities and various other service providers have a hard time keeping up. Tórshavn, Klaksvík, Runavík, Fuglafjørður, Tvøroyri — all of these ports are under pressure to add capacity.
In Tórshavn, the port authority has decided to go ahead with plans to extend the East Harbor dramatically, to allow for more cruise tourism as well as to accommodate the growing traffic of container cargo, while also keeping an eye on future oil and gas. Klaksvík continues to develop its impressive North Quay to attract more of the larger vessels, whether trawlers, container ships or cruise liners. Runavík meanwhile has staked out a huge area for its oil supply base — in case a commercial discovery were to occur off the Faroes, the current supply base there would simply not have the required capacity.
Fuglafjørður, more invested in the pelagic fishing industry, has continually developed its facilities over the last decade, with a major bunker station added in result. Now the port has another ace up its sleeve — a new freezing plant to make it a perfectly equipped port of call for Northern Europe’s pelagic fishing fleets. Tvøroyri overtook them a couple of years ago with its new revolutionizing freezing plant and has already established itself as viable player in that industry, alongside Fuglafjørður and Kollafjørður, which is part of the Port of Tórshavn.
At the same time, importantly, merchant shipping is emerging as an industry to be reckoned with in the Faroes. Among the catalysts: the success of the Faroe Islands International Ship Register (FAS), the success of Faroese shipping companies in the offshore energy industry, and the many decades of success that Faroese sea officers have had working for international shipping companies. With all of this coming together, something is bound to turn up.