Clever fish? Exploring salmon agency in the Tana River in Arctic Norway

Gro Birgit Ween

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingPublished conference contribution


This paper explores different kinds of salmon agency displayed in three kinds of
salmonfisheries, undertaken along the banks of the River Tana in Arctic Norway. River
Tana/Deanu/Teno is the third largest Atlantic salmon river in the Northern Hemisphere, and
as thenaming of the river indicates, the river and its salmon are shared by many peoples and
kindsof fishermen.
This paper takes into account three different kinds of human-salmon relationsthat occurs
on the river: Sea salmon fishing, river fishing with driftnet and weirs, and touristangling. I am
intrigued that these three fisheries entail different human-salmon relations. Thesalmon
emerging in these relations have diverse characteristics, they involve several kindsof agency,
and some salmon are cleverer than others. A comparison between these fisherieswill
demonstrate the differences in salmoness, and how these come about. It will bear witnessto
that all three fishermen value salmon as a long-term companion. To all, the significanceof
salmon is made evident by the rules detailing the killing. However, while the
angler‘sconsiders death as the end point of the relation, local net fishermen‘s relation to the
fish doesnot stop when fish becomes flesh; it is ongoing and cyclical. To local netfishermen,
salmonethics include rules detailing the treatment of the kill, as well as the rules regarding
eatingand sharing. In this relation, how salmon as flesh is treated is vital, as it will influence
thefishermen‘s ability to kill again.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIntegrating archaeological and ethnographic research
Place of PublicationIrkutsk, Omsk
ISBN (Print)978-58038-0835-0
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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