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Resilient communities? Collapse and recovery of a social-ecological system in Arctic Norway

Else Grete Broderstad, Centre for Sami Studies, University of Tromsø
Einar Eythórsson, Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research, Tromsø

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-06533-190301

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Abstract

Fisheries-dependent Sami communities in the Norwegian Arctic face major challenges adapting and responding to social-ecological changes. On a local scale, communities and households continually adapt and respond to interacting changes in natural conditions and governance frameworks. Degradation of the marine environment and decline in coastal settlements can move social-ecological systems beyond critical thresholds or tipping points, where the system irreversibly enters a different state. We examined the recent social-ecological history of 2 fjords in Finnmark, North Norway, which have coped, over the past 30 years, with the collapse of local fish stocks, harp seal (Pagophilus groenlandicus) and red king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus) invasions, and increasingly restrictive resource management regimes. Further, we explored similarities and differences in their social-ecological histories and discuss how the concepts of resilience and tipping points can be applied as analytical tools in empirical studies of community response to social-ecological change. We show that although the ecological changes in the 2 communities have consisted of similar developments, they have been temporally different in ways that may have affected coping strategies and influenced the available options at different times. The apparent resilience of Sami fishing communities can be understood as the result of response strategies employed by communities and households, and the economic opportunities that have opened up as a result of a combination of ecological change and institutional and political reforms.

Key words

coastal cod; community response; individual vessel quotas; Porsáŋgu; red king crab; resilience, Sami Parliament; tipping points; Várjat vuotna

Copyright © 2014 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087