How did the fishermen live in the past, and how has that changed?
The rich fisheries along the Norwegian coast have always been a condition upon which people have been able to live here. Norway has always exported the majority of the seafood that is taken from the sea (9 out of 10 fish!), and competition in the industry continues to become more globalized.
We tell the story of the relation between the people and the continual, often unforeseeable, restructuring that the fishing industry undergoes. Through this we will awaken an interest and wonder that generates discussion regarding ownership, responsibility, and administration of resources today and in the future.
The rich resources of the ocean have been the basis for many types of fisheries, and therefore form the basis for providing food and income to the population. The fishing profession has gone from being labour and time intensive to a profession with many devices to make life easier. The season-based fishing of herring and other pelagic species have, similar to cod, been instrumental in the formation of many of the towns and cities along the coast. Sprat and pilchards were fished for the canning industry, and a large herring oil industry was built up. But this is just a part of the broader Norwegian fishing industry: Drift net fishing for salmon along the coast, wedge-shaped seines in the fjords, and the rich tradition of lobster fishing in Vestlandet and Sørlandet to name a few, have all been important sources of income. Small whales were caught with nets in the bays or from whaling boats, for delivery to whaling stations on land. Industrial whaling has over time had an expansive development, both along the Norwegian coast and in the Antarctic Ocean. For a long time, sealing was also long an important activity.
Modernisation and streamlining has contributed to the possibility of fishing within a wider radius, and catching larger amounts. From fishing in small row boats with nets and shore seines to larger motor-powered boats with heavy equipment such as trawls, purse seines, ring nets and pelagic trawls. Herring and mackerel were fished in the North Sea, and fishermen travelled to the Barents Sea to fish for capelin and to the west of Ireland to fish for blue whiting. The hunt for fish has also become more advanced. The master seiner previously used hand held weights to find herring shoals, but now there is advanced technology on board fishing vessels where one can measure all details down to the single fish in the ocean. In the same way, fishing itself is carefully regulated and controlled. The fishing fleet in Norway consists of sea-faring fishing vessels and a coastal fishing boats. Whilst the total number of wild fish caught has remained relatively stable the last decades, the amount of farmed fish has increased considerably.