Permafrost thaw responsible for Norilsk oil spill, impacting indigenous fishing?

Talking to a friend in Se Yakha, at the shore of the Ob Bay close to the Kara Sea, I realised how far the consequences of the recent Norilsk oil spill could go: the recent New York Times article about the oil spill cite environmentalists and even a Russian minister saying that the consequences of the spill could last for a decade. This is echoed by our friends from the Yamal Peninsula, who might be again among the most vulnerable victims.
The concern is that the spilled oil will eventually end up in the Kara Sea. And if that happens, it will contaminate the water along of the migration route of fish, on which the indigenous population along the shores rely for their subsistence and livelihood.

Continue reading “Permafrost thaw responsible for Norilsk oil spill, impacting indigenous fishing?”

Arctic Ocean and coastal communities

Fishing is the livelihood of many Arctic coastal communities in Northern Norway and Northern Russia. The workshop aims to bring together different groups of stakeholders who share common interests in the resources of the Arctic Ocean. The stakeholders from Northern Norway and Northern Russia will discuss the ongoing changes in the marine environment of the Arctic Ocean and their relevance for the intricate relations between people, sea water and fish. Case studies from the Barents Sea, Kara Sea, Laptev Sea and White Sea will be represented.

Photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann
Photo: Anna Stammler-Gossmann

Arctic Centre, University of Lapland with the EU ACCESS project – Arctic Climate Change Economy and Society will organize Arctic Ocean and coastal communities  Changes, challenges and livelihoods  Stakeholders’ workshop on February 20-21, 2014, Thule Room at the Arctic Centre. More information from Anna Stammler-Gossmann.

Continue reading “Arctic Ocean and coastal communities”

Fishing fieldwork, ORHELIA Arctic Yakutia

My last summer entry from this Yakutia fieldwork finally brings me to the fieldwork PRACTICE there with the inhabitants of the Lena Delta and coastal area in Yakutia. As some of you may know, one of our crucial methodological approaches in the ORHELIA project is to marry intensive life-history interviewing with anthropological participant observation, which we believe enables us to understand better people’s life histories and ask more qualified follow-up questions.

Fishing is on industrial scale,but still a deeply culturally rooted practice  & important identity marker
Fishing is on industrial scale,but still a deeply culturally rooted practice & important identity marker

Our programme for the field was to spend half of the time in the village talking to elders about their recollections of the past and their evaluation of the present. The other half we wanted to go out to the summer fishing place and participate in the summer fishing campaign. Continue reading “Fishing fieldwork, ORHELIA Arctic Yakutia”

Bykov Mys, fuzzy ethnic identities at the edge of an eroding Peninsula in the Arctic Ocean

From Tiksi you go another 50 km by motor boat to the village of Cape Bykov (Bykov Mys), where 500 people engage at 72 degrees northern latitude and harsh climate engage in coastal fishing all over the Lena River Delta.

Bykov Mys, fishing village at the mouth of the Lena River at the Laptev Sea
Bykov Mys, fishing village at the mouth of the Lena River at the Laptev Sea

Continue reading “Bykov Mys, fuzzy ethnic identities at the edge of an eroding Peninsula in the Arctic Ocean”

Forest Nenets Fishing – report by Rudolf Havelka

Anthropology Research Team phD student Rudolf Havelka is a little bit more than half way through with his fieldwork among the Forest Nentsy in West Siberia. As Rudolf is an enthusiastic fisherman himself, it wasn’t hard for him to get in tune with this part of Forest Nenets life.

Rudolf with a nice ice-fish harvest

Consequently, after 5 months in the field a very nice popular article that he produced has a short but concise ethnography of fishing there in the various seasons and using various technologies. Particularly for those who can read Czech, it’s worth reading and illustrated with nice photographs. Rudolf is soon going to go back for another field season there and look at contemporary enactments of animist practices in a landscape rugged by oil extraction over the last four decades.

More nice photos you can see at Bryan Alexander’s great home page here . Estonian-French anthropologist and linguist Eva Toulouse has worked a  lot with Forest Nenets and is also very active in networking with them and popularising their cases, particular with the famous writer, activist and reindeer herder Yuri Vella, with whom Rudolf also stayed.

Greetings from the Norwegian fjords

Anthropology Research Team member Anna Stammler-Gossmann sends warm greetings from the very cold Sorvaranger (Finnmark, Northern Norway).

Warm greetings from one of the most beautiful places of the Varanger fjords, Gandvik (Javravuonna, in Sami) in  Northern Finnmark (Latitude/longitude: 70°00′38″N 29°07′22″E). It’s good to know what’s really going on in the big world around us. It is especially cold when you in the open fjord or in the harbour.

Now I know so much about the fish which we consume from time to time.

Fieldwork on the Varanger Fjord, Northern Norway

As part of my fieldwork here I examine northern aquaculture (ACCESS project – Arctic Climate Change Economy and Society).

Today, I joined a small team on the Gandvik farm to check the Salmon open net pens (cages) in the fjord. We went by boat to visit a total of 14 operating pens, where fish was caught and inspected by veterinary. Salmon farming in the fjords is not only matter of business and surrounding marine environment, but also has recently emerged as an issue point of accommodation of local and indigenous rights in using marine resources (see Camilla Brattland. 2010. Mapping rights in coastal Sami seascapes. Arctic Review on Law and Politics, vol. 1 (1): 28-53.

Open net pen

Winter is the time when salmon fish does not required much feeding. However, it is hard work for the team to operate the big farm with just a few workers, working in 14 days shift. Today, we spent many hours on the boat exposed to strong cold winds and a temperature of -20 C..

at work

We also visited the office on an offshore platform, where the fish are monitored by video cameras and fed.

offshore feeding platform

In the last few days, I had the opportunity to visit the fish processing plant in Jakobsnes (another fjord), to which the fresh fish from Gandvik is delivered to.

Another type of fish farming in the Sør-Varanger area is land based farming using round tanks in the Bøkfjord. My visit to the farm was a great opportunity to learn more about raising Arctic Char and even taste the quality of the ‘farmed’ version of this species of the Arctic coast. See here for a video of this setting.

Indoor fish farm has several fish tanks. The robot supplies the feed to each tank separately. Nevertheless, the young and not so strong fish should be fed also manually

As a next step, it would be nice to do some more literature studies on the anthropology of Fjord fishery, among both small scale indigenous family based fishermen (and women), and more industrial commercial companies. We can have a discussion on this here on the blog if you find that fruitful

Best, Anna Stammler-Gossmann