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SEABIRD HARVEST in the North Atlantic


in the North Atlantic

Puffin hunting at Grimsey, Iceland.

Strong traditions

Extensive use of seabirds has long been a distinctive feature of Nordic coastal culture. Bones from seabirds have been found in middens from the Greenland Stone Age 2500 BC, and seabirds are mentioned in 10th century Norse sagas. In Iceland, landowners’ hunting rights and regulations about egg harvesting are laid out in law books as early as the 13th century. There is a continuous utilization of seabirds from the past until present times. Although the current day seabird harvesting may not be a matter of survival it is still an important activity. There are numerous cultural traditions bound to harvesting seabirds. The circumstances around seabird harvesting may have changed, but the harvest takes place almost like millennium ago. The opportunity of harvesting the Goods of Nature is still considered a fundamental birth-right in many small places in the Nordic region. Seabird harvesting is what binds small communities together with traditions passed on from generation to generation.   

SEABIRD HARVEST in the North Atlantic is a project about seabirds and subsistence harvesting in the North Atlantic. The project unites expertise knowledge of seabird ecology and information on seabird population status with intermediary visual representation of unique Nordic lifestyle around seabird harvest.


The project aims to highlight and raise awareness of how changes in the marine environment have negative impacts on seabird populations expressed through the traditional seabird harvest. Seabird populations in the North Atlantic have undergone significant declines due to changing climatic conditions and/or through an unsustainable use, and the traditional and culturally important seabird catch is today strongly threatened. The project wants to convey the unique Nordic way of life in the region's peripheral zones, the conflict between population declines and exploitation of seabirds and the important position seabird catch still holds in the Nordic region. The project involves expertise from Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands and the primary outputs are a book publication and this website.

Fulmar egg harvesting at Skuvoy, Faroe Islands
Eider hunting in Greenland


The project Seabird Harvest in the North Atlantic is supported by the Arctic Cooperation Programme of the Nordic Council of Ministers, NATA (North Atlantic Tourism Association), The Faroe Marine Research Institute and The Greenland Institute of Natural Resources.



The project combines expert knowledge on seabird ecology from Greenland, Faroe Islands and Iceland with visual communication through still images. Participants are Carsten Egevang, Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, Bergur Olsen, Faroe Marine Research Institute, and Aevar Petersen, formerly Icelandic Institute of Natural History. 

Little Auk (Dovekie) hunting, Savissivik, Greenland
Fulmar egg harvesting, Skuvoy, Faroe Islands.
Puffin hunting, Grimsey, Iceland.
Little Auk hunting, Thule area, Greenland.
Eider hunting in Greenland
Common Eider hunting, Scoresbysund, Greenland.
Razorbill and Common Guillemot egg harvesting, Látrabjarg, Iceland.
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