Moving at High Pace: Fuglafjørður

The port town of Fuglafjørður—widely known as a major fish industry hub, especially as related to pelagic fisheries and aquaculture—is undergoing rapid developments in marine business and associated services and technologies.

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Dávur Juul, mayor of Fuglafjørður. Image credits: Maria Olsen.

Fuglafjørður on the eastern coast of the island Eysturoy has played a pivotal part in the development of industry and export trade in the Faroe Islands, in particular since the establishment, back in the mid 1960s, of the Havsbrún fishmeal, marine oil, and later, feed factory. Since 2011 owned by salmon farming major Bakkafrost, the giant processing plant has developed into one of the most advanced of its kind in Europe—a unique link in what is believed to be the world’s most highly integrated aquaculture supply chain.

Over the years, a sophisticated business ecosystem has taken shape around Fugla­fjørður’s fish industry, primarily centered around pelagic fisheries and aquaculture, encompassing an array of related services and technologies.

As for the aquaculture industry’s supply chain, Fuglafjørður has a position that seems to be going from strength to strength—ranging from hatching and on-growing by Mowi, to Havsbrún’s feed production, to Vónin’s design, manufacture and repairs of cage nets and related equipment, to workboats, farming pens and hatchery systems built by KJ, to feed barges and underwater lighting by GroAqua, to seafood processing machinery by Necto, and more. Indeed, some of these firms’ recent business expansion into neighboring countries has seen Fuglafjørður-designed engineering goods gain foothold internationally. 

Much the same has long been true of the pelagic industry, with the Port of Fugla­fjørður acting as a key hub, receiving an average 20 ship calls a week from vessels of various nationalities, both fishing and merchant ones—for instance, bulk freighters transporting feed for export, fishing vessels landing their fresh catch to the Pelagos freezing plant or for industrial reduction at Havs­brún, or unloading their frozen cargo to the Bergfrost cold storage facility, trawlers getting their gear fixed or renewed at Vónin, having their processing lines repaired or maintained at PL, ships taking bunkers at the Effo Bunkers marine fuel terminal, receiving provisions from Vistir, and so forth.

Driven by expansion

“Our port has been a leader in the pelagic industry for many years and remains so,” said Dávur Juul, the mayor of Fuglafjørður. “We’ve seen quite some major developments taking place more recently to further strengthen that position, and we have major ongoing harbor extension projects.” Those extensions are meant to make room for several feed silos and additional docking space for a steady stream of bulk freighters shipping salmon feed to new clients in Scotland and elsewhere. 

Meanwhile synergies between the pelagic industry, the aquaculture industry, and supporting industries and services have been developing at accelerating pace.

“Let’s take the aquaculture industry as an example,” mayor Juul noted. “We have in our municipality a comprehensive line-up that covers primary production, design and manufacturing of equipment plus related services. So we’ve got smolt stations, fish farms, feed production, all relevant aquaculture equipment, and shipping facilities—meaning companies based out of Fuglafjørður can deliver everything required to set up and operate a fish farm whether overseas or in the Faroes.”

“Part of this has come into play lately, subsequent to Bakkafrost’s expansion into the US and the UK,” Mr. Juul added. “This has led to a sharp increase in exports of feed to overseas fish farms and has also generated international business growth for developers and suppliers of key technologies and equipment for the aquaculture industry. And it has taken place in tandem with considerable developments in business finance with investors looking at new opportunities.”

Cultural

As well as being widely known for its industry and business environment, Fuglafjørður also has a strong cultural identity. Home to several highly regarded painters, musicians and other artists, the 1,600-strong community is widely perceived as top-rated in that respect among places in the Faroe Islands. 

In early September, for example, the annual Cultural Days take place, a week or so packed with live concerts and a variety of events such as art exhibitions and festivities. 

Meanwhile high-profile concerts with the likes of Føroya Symfoniorkestur (Faroe Symphony Orchestra) occur on a regular basis at the Mentanarhúsið (House of Culture) venue, plus other events throughout the year, whether cultural, entertainment or more business oriented. 

“The awareness that Fuglafjørður has much to offer also in arts and culture is not new,” the mayor further noted. “Yet it’s only recently that many of us have realized that this has to be highlighted more properly. The Municipal Council alongside the community as a whole has gradually placed more emphasis on this aspect. Investing in a decent venue was part of that, as is encouraging more cultural events. We’re also pleased to see businesses engaging more in such events.”

Aerial view of Fuglafjørður with Kambsdalur in the foreground. Image credits: Bui Tyril.

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