The Analytical Importance of Property Rights to Northern Resources

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"In contrast to the southern Arctic regions of the earth (Antarctica), the north has not been set aside as a 'global commons' under some sort of fragile International Regime. For thousands of years opportunistic harvesting of the seemingly unlimited riches of these northern areas has been carried out by seasonally migrating groups of humans, in much the same way as migratory birds or moving packs of wolves have utilised the same area in periods of temporary retreat of the Great Ice. At a low level of harvesting technology the north thus has functioned as a true global commons where humans of different tribes could go out and harvest for their needs and then retreat - to small farms in the subarctic regions or to inhabitable coves within the Arctic itself. The great advantage to resource management in the north, its sparse population relative to its richness in natural resources, was also its great disadvantage: the scarcity of defenders and the vulnerability against all kinds of intruders from the trickle of poor migrants to plundering armies and state settlement programmes. "We shall here mainly use Northern Norway as a case to try out some preliminary hypotheses about such relationships, but the reader should bear in mind that these questions can be raised at a generalised level in all the northern circumpolar areas - and that comparative studies in two or three areas with different nation-state supremacy could bring new insights which a one-shot approach does not give."
water resources, property rights, fisheries, property rights, common pool resources