King Øystein Magnusson is said to have built the first rorbuer at the Lofoten Islands in the 11th century, so that foreign fishermen had a place to live. Previously, they had pulled their rowing boats ashore at the end of a working day, turned them over and used them as a shelter. Way back then, rorbuer were usually divided into two rooms: one to live and sleep in with several men, and another for storing and repairing the fishing equipment.
Until the 1960s, our rorbuer looked just like that and were reserved entirely for seasonal fishermen. Today, fishermen can live aboard their ships, and our rorbuer come as furnished modern houses. You can still feel the tradition in their setup – small bedrooms and large living room facilities.
Our business dates to 1927, when Ottar Statle, stemming from a family of fishermen and peasants in Borge, at the age of 21 obtained his trading license and founded the one-man operation OTTAR STATLE. In Mærvoll (near Unstad beach) he established his fishing farm, cod liver oil production, and a store. When, in 1950, the left side of Mortsund harbor came up for sale, he chose to buy it. As resources were scarce after the war, Ottar tore down all buildings in Mærvoll and shipped their parts to Mortsund, where he literally rebuilt his new business from scratch.
Salt fish and stock fish were produced in Mortsund, roe was prepared for caviar and cod liver for cod liver oil. Ottar also ran a general store, where the entire neighborhood purchased their supplies, in addition to a post and telegraph office, which had been operative in Mortsund since 1891 (and lasted until 1997).
The second Statle generation took over in 1976. Bjørn-Ottar Statle decided to make the enterprise more viable. He invested in tourism as a separate line of business. Supported by his wife Åse he went on establishing the STATLES RORBUSENTER AS in 1988. A service building with restaurant was erected and many new rorbuer were built.
The general store was eventually given up in 2003 due to increasing competition through local supermarkets. Adjusting to changes in the industry, Bjørn-Ottar decided, in 2007, to drop the fishing sales business and stock fish production. However, he continued producing cod liver oil of superior quality.
As of today, more than 70 rental units are available to our guests, with a total of 300 beds. This may sound large. Yet what you see is an organically grown village with several distinctive neighborhoods. We are used to change and heavy weather. Twice in past years have high tides washed off parts of the resort during a storm. Twice did we rebuild and fortified it all.
Since 2012, a third generation is driving this business, headed by Ottar Bjørn Statle and his wife Camille. Under the name STATLES RORBU- OG KONFERANSESENTER AS they further consolidated the family enterprise. The drying flakes have been rented out to the neighbors who use them to hang their winter cod. Meanwhile, we run our resort year-round, and Ottar keeps producing cod liver oil, which ends up being bottled in Möller’s Tran. Feel free to taste this Norwegian tradition at our reception any time!