If you were to ask random people on the streets of Fedje or Hyllestad in Vestland, or Dønna in Nordland, it is far more likely that they will work in the maritime industry than if you were to do the same in Bergen, Oslo or Stavanger.

The three municipalities top the list of counties with the most maritime employees per capita, a new analysis from the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association and Maritime Forum shows. Overall, the maritime industry employs almost 90,000 people.

The maritime industry is to a very high degree a rural industry. The companies offer high- competence workplaces along the entire coast, with jobs both at sea and on land

Harald Solberg, CEO, Norwegian Shipowners' Association

“The maritime industry is to a very high degree a rural industry. The companies offer high- competence workplaces along the entire coast, with jobs both at sea and on land. The industry is international, which provides a unique opportunity to combine family life in Norwegian districts with work around the world,” says Harald Solberg, CEO of the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association.

Most companies in the industry are small and medium-sized, according to this year’s value creation report from Maritime Forum. Only one percent of the companies have more than 500 employees. These are largely shipowners, and they accounted for over a quarter of employment in the maritime industry in 2020.

The top ten municipalities with the highest proportion of maritime employees in terms of population are:

  1. Fedje (56.2 %)
  2. Hyllestad (36.4 %)
  3. Ulstein (21.0 %)
  4. Austevoll (20.7 %)
  5. Sande (20.3 %)
  6. Utsira (18.7 %)
  7. Herøy (Møre og Romsdal) (16.8 %)
  8. Kinn (14.7 %)
  9. Flatanger (14.7 %)
  10. Dønna (14.2 %)

Sources: Maritime Forum/Menon Economics and SSB.

“Shipowners are the hub of the maritime cluster, and an important reason why Norway can boast a complete and unique maritime industry,” Solberg continues. “Shipowners create fertile ground for a number of other segments of the industry as well, whether it be seafarers, equipment suppliers, shipyards, finance, insurance, class societies or related services. Overall, they are absolutely crucial for employment and value creation along the entire coast.”

The value creation report also shows that maritime companies, to a greater extent than other industries, are located in less central areas. As many as 57 percent of these enterprises are located in rural areas, compared with 28 percent of enterprises in the rest of Norwegian business and industry.