SDÁ 1-2-2007: Steinar Pedersen

Manne eai leat mearrasámiin makkárge vuoigatvuođat mearrabivdui?

Steinar Pedersen (Sámi Ealáhus- ja Guorahallanguovddáš)

Viečča artihkkala dás (pdf).

Why are Coastal Sami left with no rights in the sea fishery?

The testimony of an eyewitness at the end of the 9th century, tells about Sami fishermen and hunters on the coast of what is now the northernmost part of Norway and the Kola Peninsula in Russia. Since then, fishing and the exploitation of marine resources, has been the primary material basis of human existence and Sami culture in that area. This article presents an historical overview of the fisheries in Finnmark county in Norway, the former legal measures that prioritised the fishing activities of both Sami and others in the county and the current challenges that are facing the traditional small scale Sami fishing communities.

Increasingly larger vessels combined with extremely effective fishing gear and new ways of quota allotment and their privatisation and negotiability, has for some time deprived many coastal Sami of their ancient right to fish in traditional local waters. This directly endangers coastal Sami culture.

Even though Norway is at the forefront of promoting human, minority and indigenous rights, and many clarifications and reports have stated that the coastal Sami have an indigenous right to make their living from marine resources, little has been done to improve the situation. In July 2004, the Norwegian Minister for Fisheries went to so far as to deny that any such rights existed, be it on basis of customary use or on the ground of indigenousness. This major political paradox is commented on at the end of the article.