Risky businesses : a perspective on fishers' risk in the oil versus fish dilemma in Lofoten and Vesterålen
Being a fisher is considered to be one of the most dangerous occupations in the world. Injuries are common, and death is a recurring event. The fishers experience competition for the space they are utilize and in the most important fishing area in Norway, Lofoten and Vesterålen; the oil industry has stated their interest in what they think is the most unopened prospective area on the Norwegian continental shelf. The area is a high latitude ecosystem with few yet but abundant species; fish, sea birds and sea mammals, and is regarded to be a vulnerable area by the Institute of Marine Research. The fishers experience risk on a daily basis in their occupation, but the oil industry presents new threats through seismic activity, area access conflicts and the risk of oil spills. Through analysis of documents and interviews with relevant people the social constructionist approach to risk will deal with the fishers’ current risk, and fishers’ risk in regards to the oil industry in the case of Lofoten and Vesterålen. The results indicate that the fishers underestimate personal risks that come with the occupation while they see the possible risk with the oil industry, especially in regards to oil spills, as a real threat. The seismic activity performed during the last three years showed a large resentment toward the oil industry and the majority of the fishers are reluctant to the oil industry. Although the possibility of an oil spill in the area is regarded as diminutive by the oil industry and the Norwegian authorities, the consequences can be massive and can affect the resources the fishers’ rely on. The uncertainty in regards to oil spill, extended effects (e.g. employment opportunities) and effects on the fishing industry in addition to knowledge gaps and the fishers’ lack of control largely explains the fishers’ negative attitude to the oil industry.
PublisherUniversitetet i Tromsø
University of Tromsø
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