(2007) JLP 55: 187-210





Siri Ulfsdatter Søreng




Fishing rights are a valuable asset to hold, especially as marine resources become scarcer and fishing rights more concentrated. Seeking to identify the strategies which persons or groups may adopt to gain such assets, this paper reports on two initiatives for gaining fishing rights in the coastal zone in northern Norway. One is a Sami fishing rights struggle and the other a non-indigenous fishing rights struggle. Both struggles concern small-scale, coastal and fjord fishers whose fishing rights have been reallocated through recently introduced resource management schemes following the closure of the fishing commons. Their goals overlap, but their strategies differ. An action group representing non-indigenous small-scale fishers chose to launch a lawsuit against the state, claiming that the state fisheries management system excludes bonafide fishers from making a living, contrary to common usage, customary law and other fisheries legislation. The Sami Parliament, on the other hand, has ever since its constitution in 1989 negotiated through political channels for the adoption of Sami fisheries as a legitimate concept in Norwegian state legislation and the establishment of Sami fisheries zones. The paper explores their choice of strategies, neither of which has had a high degree of success, and considers how the parties could collaborate to achieve their goals.