Salmon fishing as industry and culture

Salmon fishing as industry and culture

April 28, 2009

Marine salmon fishing contributes to settlement and activity along the coast of Finnmark and North Troms - and in doing so to a continuation of Coast Sami culture.

Norut Tromsø has recently completed a study of marine salmon fishing in Coast Sami areas.

The purpose of the study was to undertake a review of the significance of marine salmon fishing in these areas, from both a historic and current perspective. Further, the project brief also included defining the Coast Sami's rights regarding marine salmon fishing.

The project report also describes how the Norwegian Government's Norwegianisation policy in tandem with the centralisation process in the 1950s and 1960s contributed to a relative accumulation of Sami in the coastal communities of Northern Norway.

This provides the background to why these areas today are described as areas with Coast Sami roots or as Coast Sami areas.

Combination industry

The study concludes that marine salmon fishing has formed part of a combination industry for increasing the supply of food in the household and trade in Coast Sami areas.

In this project, the Coast Sami areas are limited to the coastal municipalities in Finnmark County and North Troms. Coast Sami municipalities in Nordland County are excluded in this context because at the time of the study there were few active marine salmon fishermen in the county.

In recent years, there has been a strong decline in the population in the Coast Sami areas in Finnmark and Troms, and for various reasons the combination approach is not as widespread as previously.

The average age of Marine salmon fishing is high and the recruitment of new fishermen is low.

Contributing to settlement and culture

In spite of this, the study concludes that marine salmon fishing contributes to continued settlement and activity in these areas as this settlement and interaction in Coast Sami areas is important for the continuation of the Coast Sami culture. The project defines this as knowledge, values and traditions in areas with a Coast Sami history.

Management of marine salmon fishing

The study further concludes that Sami through their status as indigenous people have special rights to participate in both the management and practice of fishing.

However, it is important to emphasise that a right to marine salmon fishing is not tantamount to a right of use if this is unjustifiable from a resource management perspective.

Consequently, the conclusion from the project also indicates that it lays with the resource management authorities for wild salmon stocks to advise that the practicing of fishing rights must not be at the expense of the Norwegian Government's international obligations in respect of protecting biological diversity.

This study was carried out by Norut Tromsø on commission for the Directorate for Nature Management.

Research Scientists Trude Borch (project manager), Frank Olsen and Arild Buanes at Norut Tromsø and Associate Professor Geir Runar Karlsen at the University of Tromsø have participated in this project.

Contact person: Research Scientist Trude Borch, Norut Tromsø