ACCESS project – Arctic Climate Change, Economy and Society

Greetings from stormy Bugøynes

‘Havet (‘ocean’ – norweg.) is giving and taking’. 

Many people in the coastal area refer to ‘giving and taking’ properties of seawater. The coastal village lives from the sea – cod/salmon/crab fishing, ‘Arctic’ tourism. The King crab, introduced to the Barents Sea from the North Pacific Ocean the 1960s by Soviet scientists, has become a blessing for the local community. While the Norwegian government and scientists are still challenged with the question – Is the King crab a curse or an asset? – the market demand for the delicacy is high and the local crab farm and processing factory create jobs for the community. The story of Bugøynes – ‘from the brink of existence to prosperity’ ( – is a successful story of survival through the different downturns (collapse of cod stocks, unemployment, aging population, outmigration) and about community viability.


However, in the last night I thought mainly about the ‘taking’ qualities of the havet. The sea that was in the last days so ideally peaceful, turned in the night into stormy violent power. I woke up because my tiny cabin (direct on the shore, on the picture you can see it on the left side, closed to the yellow tractor) was shaking and every wave brought the water closer and closer to the cabin. No wonder that I started to think about tsunami, autonomy of nature, and the people drowning stories heard from locals in these weeks.

‘I hated the ocean for several years because of the ‘taking’, but now I accept it – it is always about the taking and giving, giving and taking’, said me somebody, who was born here, lives here and is committed to the local development.

Back in Kirkenes

Everything is ‘Barents’ here.
Today I have presentation about my fieldwork in the coastal communities of Finnmark (Northern Norway) and will share my ideas on anthropology of seawater gained during these weeks with the colleagues from the Barents Institute, Barents Secretariat, Barents Observer. There are also other Barents things here – Barents safari, Barents festival, Barents sport shop etc. First, we will figure out where the Barents Sea/Arctic Ocean is and will talk about the different definitions and meanings applied to seawater. Then I will report about my observations around the issue Fish-Fishers-Fishing-Fishery.

Fish – fishers – fishing – fishery.

In the Northern research we know much more about the people on the land – moving patterns of reindeer herders/agropastoralists, traditional land use, access to resources, meanings of places, human-nature relations, human-animal relations etc. What is about the seascape, moving patterns of fishermen, access to marine resources, off shore borders and lines, fish-fishers relations, status of fishery vs. agriculture etc? Seawater has been a theory machine mainly for the natural science: thermodynamics, biodiversity, water velocity-, salinity, fresh water influx, ice thickness etc.
During this fieldwork I have had great possibilities to learn more about the northern coastal societies and different activities related to the fishing/fishery: small scale coastal fishery (Gamvik, Mehamn, Bugøynes), large scale fishery (Russian trawlers in the Kirkenes harbour), different kind of salmon fishing (net-, and fly fishing in the fjords, in the Tana River, leisure and sport fishing), aquaculture, King Crab fishing, ‘fish hotel’ service (fish terminal in Kirkenes).

Maybe Europe’s northernmost cod, drying in Mehamn

Nevertheless, it did not improve my fishing skills and did not unfold a particular passion for fishing. But the fresh Barents cod that I got as a present in Gamvik was so delicious!!!
Recipe: Fresh fish from the Arctic Ocean, (not older than few hours)+salt, put the fish on the foil, fold the sides around the fish and seal at the top, that’s it.  The name of this fish dish is ‘Dream of Gamvik’.

Anna Stammler-Gossmann

One thought on “ACCESS project – Arctic Climate Change, Economy and Society

  1. Stephan Dudeck

    Nice to hear from you Anna. I guess you are back now already? Reading your entry I got really some appetite for fresh fish. Do they eat the slightly salted fish raw then? And how long has it to stay in the foil? I had some frozen raw slightly salted fish last week. It’s so delicious that I cannot stop before my stomach is full – it’s better than ice cream and your stomach doesn’t hurt afterwards. Stephan

Comments are closed.