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Commons for Whom? On New Coastal Commons on North Norwegian Coasts

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Type: Book Chapter
Author: Sandberg, Audun; Berge, Erling; Carlsson, Lars
Book Title: Commons: Old and New
Publisher: Department of Sociology and Political Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Page(s): 135-140
Date: 2003
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/51
Sector: Fisheries
Region: Europe
Subject(s): coastal resources
common pool resources
property rights
protected areas
Abstract: "There are dramatic events taking place on North-Norwegian Coasts during this period. On the surface this appears as a surprising shift in the opinion of the coastal population in crucial questions. One such fundamental question in coastal areas has been the issue of Norwegian membership in the European Union, where the opinion is tilting from opposition tied to fishing rights for wild fish towards support tied to marketing access for farmed fish. But underneath this there are other long term processes that might enable us to explain why the once crucial issue of local resource control now seems to be of less importance than it was in 1972 and even as late as 1994. This paper is an initial attempt to outline what is going on in a typical resource-dependent region when the fundamental institutional relations are changed. In doing so, it does not utilize contemporary concepts like privatisation, individualization, re-feudalisation, or other ideologically based constructs as explanatory factors. Rather it is using basic property rights as useful representations of an important analytical link between the biophysical world and the social world. By tracing the effects of different designs of property rights on both natural stocks of fish and on coastal ecosystems, and on social systems like coastal communities, firms, corporations and political parties, we might come nearer to possible explanations of seemingly surprising events. "The fundamental assumption here is that the attempts at a more 'rational' resource management for wild marine fish have had unintended consequences. Over the years this benevolent political gesture has become much like a Trojan horse for coastal communities. Hidden inside precious gift that modern resource management regimes were to the coastal population, there are three dangerous soldiers: one is the soldier of increased social rigidity that rises from increased ecological uncertainty, the second is the soldier of inefficiency and lack of innovation that results from the accumulation of inequality, and the third soldier is the danger of unsustainable use of coastal ecosystems and ecosystem services."

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