Economy

For several hundred years, coastal fishing has led to the special settlement pattern along the coast of Finnmark. The one-person sjark (a small fishing boat) reflects the traditional way of fishing. New and more far-reaching catching techniques have resulted in emigration from many of the fishing villages starting in the late 1960s. Today's fishery fleet is based on the modern stern trawling fleet, supplying the extensive receiving apparatus on land or processing the fish directly on board. In recent years, fish plants along the coast bought fish regularly from Russian trawlers as well.

Aquaculture is about to become Norway's second-most important export industry after oil. Many of the fish farms are located along the Finnmark coast, raising salmon. On Stjern0ya Island outside Alta, mining companies extracted almost ten million tons of nephelin syenite (an intrusive igneous rock used in glass and ceramics) since 1961. Each day, 120 employees commute to the otherwise uninhabited island. Zinc and copper were exploited earlier, but although gold and silver have been found in Finnmark county, no commercial mining has been established so far. Slate, which is found all over the northwestern part of the county, has been used commercially since the mid-1800s. Alta slate is the hardest of its type, and for the production of slate slabs approximately 250 m3 of mountain are removed in the Alta area. Oil and gas were found offshore of the county, and from 2005 onwards the "Sn0hvit" project on Melk0ya Island

Reindeer migrate across the high tundra of the Finnmark Plain. Copyright Bryan and Cherry Alexander Photography

outside Hammerfest will be Europe's first export facility for liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Reindeer are bred mainly by the Saami people in Finnmark. In order to take advantage of the grazing areas on the plateau, the Saami migrate with their herds of reindeers out to the coast in spring and back to the inland in fall.

International tourism is a growing industry in Finnmark county, relying on the traditional Hurtigruten (coastal steamer) to operate year round. A small-scale production of crowberry wine started in the mid-1990s, which is probably the world's northernmost wine producer.

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