Salmon fishing used to be the primary source of income in many rural areas of Arkhangelsk oblast in northwest Russia. People who settled in the area received a name Pomory, from Russian po moriu, meaning by sea, because their subsistence activities became marine fishing and hunting and seafaring. Local fisheries have undergone significant changes as post-Soviet Russia embraced the market economy and the state introduced fishing concessions. The current Russian law only allows fishing for salmon through officially registered recreational or commercial fisheries. Both these options are often either unavailable or unaffordable to rural dwellers, which leaves them with limited or no legal access to their traditional salmon fisheries. There has been a growing concern for protecting communities’ fishing rights among wider society in Arkhangelsk oblast. City activists promoted Pomory identity and appealed to the Russian government to grant Pomory an indigenous status to secure their access to fisheries. Although Pomor activism did not reach most of its proclaimed goals, it has contributed to promoting the image of Arkhangelsk oblast as a homeland to Pomor fishing. This image has played an important part in what Arkhangelsk authorities have called socially-oriented fisheries management. Officials have made good attempts to better accommodate rural communities’ access to fishing resources. Yet, these attempts have failed to include fishermen as active participants in the process. This paper looks at constraints on community participation in fisheries management in Russia. It considers both historical and contemporary reasons for the low participation of local community in fisheries management.
Many parties contributed to making this paper a reality. This research was supported by the European Social and Research Council, grant ESRC ES/K006428/1.
The author is particularly grateful to the grant’s holder, Professor David Anderson from the Department of Anthropology, University of Aberdeen, for his various support throughout this research.
The Barents Center of the Humanities at Kola Science Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Apatity provided important institutional support.
Officials from several fisheries management institutions of Arkhangelsk oblast, including Shiriaev Igor Alekseevich from Dvinsko-Pechorskoe Territorial Management Board, Skovorod’ko Artem Aleksandrovich from the Northern Basin Directorate of Fisheries and Water Biological Resources Conservation (Sevrybvod) and Korotenkov Aleksei Anatol’evich from the Fishing Industry Agency of Arkhangelsk oblast were very supportive and shared their knowledge wherever possible. Scholars Studenov Igor Ivanovich and Stasenkov Vladimir Aleksandrovich at Northern branch of the Knipovich Polar Research Institute of Marine Fisheries and Oceanography (SevPINRO) in Arkhangelsk provided their invaluable expertise on marine fisheries.
Chairmen of several fishing collective farms – Tuchin Sergei Viktorovich, Samoilov Sergei Nikolaevich and Seliverstova Marina Nikolaevna – offered a great administrative support.
Local residents of several villages in Mezen region were extremely generous and hospitable, providing places to stay, warm clothes, food, endless cups of tea, and most valuably, sparing their time. Finally, Natalie Wahnsiedler was a regular companion during fieldwork and a great source of inspiration for this research.
- fisheries management
- community participation