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Enacting nature in Unjárga -Nesseby, Northern Norway

Stine Rybråten

Dissertation submitted for the partial fulfilment of the Ph.D. degree,

Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Oslo,

June 2013

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amounting to the National Insurance base rate (G), representing 70 256 NOK in 2008 (NAV

2013c). Furthermore, full time employment in another profession it is not permitted and at

come from fisheries (NOU 2008: 5).

The listing in

the Fishing Register is used as criteria for allocation of quotas (ibid.). For the North Atlantic

cod stock in the Barents Sea, jointly managed with Russia, Norway has established a right to


Affairs 2012, see also Hovelsrud et al. 2010).

Being professional fishermen does not mean that fishing is the only labour or source of

income for neither Olav nor Anders. When Olav is not out on the fjord in his fishing vessel,

he works as a carpenter. Anders, on the other hand, combines his fisheries with carpentry,

reindeer herding, salmon fisheries and tourism. The first time I talked to Olav and Anders

about the fisheries in Unjárga-Nesseby, Olav told me that there were 12 yrkesfiskere, all


In several written accounts, the combination of fisheries and other industries, such as

farming or carpentry, is presented as a historically important coastal Sámi adaptation to the

seasonal fluctuation of natural resources in and around Unjárga-

Hoëm 2007, Nilsen 2009).

the fisheries activity had been the common way of living in the municipality within recent

history. He continued to describe how he himself started in the fisheries around 1952, at the

age of 12-13:

At that time it was not to live from the fisheries, but the whole family had to work, in order for

us to make a living. Everybody had to make their contribution, even the children, both in the

fisheries, with the farming, when picking berries and so on. From my work, I could keep a

little money for caramels, but most of what I earned went to my mother, for the household.

Gradually, I joined the fisheries even more, as it was the main industry here at the time, in

combination with something else. In our family, as in most others, it was combined with


Correspondingly, to be listed on Sheet A, referring to fishermen with fisheries as their secondary occupation,

an income from fisheries amounting to half the National Insurance base rate (G) should be presumed for the

following year. Furthermore, the income from another occupation should not exceed 4G. In municipalities

included in the Sámi Development Fund (SUF) however, this income limit is 5G. (Within the SUF region, the

Sámi Parliament may provide grants for initiatives of particular cultural, social and economic relevance to the

Sámi population and the Sámi areas).

I was told that there used to be a female yrkesfisker among the Unjárga-Nesseby fishermen as well, but that

she moved away a few years ago.

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farming. We had 3-4 cows, 10-15 sheep, and a few hens that provided us with eggs. In my

adult life, I have had fisheries and carpentering as a double job. In periods with little fish, I

have worked as a carpenter.

Still today, the multi-species fisheries ensure flexible seasonal income (flere ben å stå

på) should one species fail. Furthermore, the combination of industries ensures the fishermen

have incomes during times of the year when the fisheries are less profitable. For some, a job,

or several jobs, outside the fisheries is essential so as to be able to maintain a vessel and thus

was uttered with a laugh, it may have reflected a view on how combining the fisheries with

one or two other activities is legitimate, combining even more activities may blur the already

fuzzy line dividing professional fishermen, those with fisheries as their secondary occupation

(listed on sheet A in the Fishing Register) and those fishing for subsistence or recreation.

distinctions between the different kinds of fishing activity defined in National regulations may

have influenced fishing practices in Unjárga-Nesseby. As only a limited income from other

forms of employment is permitted in order to retain the privileges of being a yrkesfisker, most

Unjárga-Nesseby fishers restrict their additional sources of income to one or two other

occupations. Anders, on the other hand, chooses to follow his various interests as the different

seasons opportunities allow. Olav however owns the vessel, and thus has an income from the

fisheries which constitutes a larger part of his total income than is the case for his companion.

like the coastal Sámi used to do, back in time, combining various activities depending on the

time of t


concern among the fishers was their increasing average age, and the low recruitment to the


In 2008, during my fieldwork year, the average age among the Unjárga-Nesseby

fishermen was approximately 52 years (Olsen, pers. comm.). The high expense related to the

purchase of a fishing vessel and a quota was found to discourage young potential entrants to

the profession. The historical background for this situation was frequently linked to the

national regulation system introduced to the cod fisheries by Norwegian authorities in 1990.

At this time, individual vessel quotas were implemented based on previous years catches. In

order to receive a vessel quota in 1990, a stipulated minimum catch from one of the three

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Appendix 1

Table 1: List of names on animals and plants mentioned in the thesis

Species mentioned in the thesis

English name Latin name Sámi name Norwegian name

Arctic fox Alopex lagopus Njálla Fjellrev
Arctic herring Clupea harengus Sallit/silde* Sild
Atlantic cod Gadus morhua Dorski Torsk
Atlantic halibut Hippoglossus hippoglossus Bálddis Kveite
Atlantic salmon Salmo salar Luossa Laks
Atlantic wolffish Anarhichas lupus Stáidnár Steinbit
Autumnal moth Epirrita autumnata Lastamáhtu Fjellbjørkemåler
Black crowberry Empetrum nigrum Muorji/ Krekling/krøkebær
Blueberry Vaccinium myrtillus Sarrit Blåbær
Blue mussel Mytilus edulis Blåskjell
Brown bear Ursus arctos Brunbjørn
Capelin Mallotus villosus Lodde
Cloudberries Rubus chamaemorus Luomi Multe
Common eider Somateria mollissima Hávda Ærfugl/ea
Dwarf birch Betula nana Skierri Dvergbjørk
Eurasian oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus Cagan Tjeld
Flounder Paralichthyidae sp. Finddar Flyndre
Gyrfalcon Falco rusticolus Rievssatfálli Jaktfalk
Haddock Melanogrammus aeglefinus Diksu/divso* Hyse
Hare Lepus timidus Njoammil Hare
Lemming Lemmus lemmus Goddesáhpán Lemen
Lingonberries Vaccinium vitis-idaea / Tyttebær
Lynx Lynx lynx Albbas Gaupe
Mackerel Scomber scombrus Makrella Makrell
Monkfish Lophius piscatorius Breiflabb
Moose Alces alces Sarvva/ealga* Elg
Mosquito Culicidae sp. Mygg
Mountain birch Betula pubescens /leje Fjellbjørk
Pollock Pollachius virens Sáidi Sei
Ptarmigan Lagopus lagopus &

Lagopus muta
Rievvsat & giron Lirype & fjellrype

Red fox Vulpes vulpes Ruksesrieban Rødrev
Red king crab Paralithodes camtschaticus Gonagasgazzareabbá Kongekrabbe
Reindeer Rangifer tarandus Boazu Rein
Rough-legged buzzard Buteo lagopus Biehkan Fjellvåk
Sea trout Salmo trutta trutta Sjøørret
Sea urchin Echinus esculentus Karanasruitu Kråkebolle
Shrimp Pandalus borealis Reahka Reke
Snow bunting Plectrophenax nivalis Allat/hallap* Snøspurv
Wavy hairgrass Avenella flexuosa Meachesinno* Smyle
White breasted guillemot Uria aalge Lomvi
White-tailed eagle Haliaeetus albicilla Mearragoaskin Havørn
Winter moth Operophtera brumata Lastamáhtu Liten høstmåler
Wolverine Gulo gulo Geatki Jerv

* Unjárga-Nesseby dialect

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