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Fisheries Management and the Domestication of Nature

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Holm, Peter
Conference: Reinventing the Commons, the Fifth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bodoe, Norway
Conf. Date: May 24-28
Date: 1995
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/8008
Sector: Fisheries
Global Commons
Region: Europe
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
natural resources
Abstract: "This paper discusses fisheries management as part of the modern project. At the core of this project lies the idea of nature as external environment; as a storage of resources available for human utilization. Reflecting the modernist conception of nature in general, fisheries management is about the control over and domestication of nature. This happens by way of industrial organization, science, and bureaucracy. In the first half of the paper, this perspective on resource management is explicated in the context of Norwegian fisheries management. The major stages in the modernization project within the fisheries are described. I will in particular focus on the shift that occurred during the 1970s, when the ocean and its resources were redefined from an open to a closed system. In the second half of the paper, the limits to the modernist project within the fisheries are discussed. The ocean is the last remaining wilderness. What are the dilemmas of its domestication? Three topics are discussed. The first is the technical problem of control (chaos and all that). The second is the problem of resource management as social change (closing the commons and the destruction of non-modern social forms). The third is the problem of modern projects' non-generalizability (extending modern project destroys the possibilities of externalization on which it relies."

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