Land Tenure Journal, No 1 (2013)

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Governing tenure in Norwegian and Sami small-scale fisheries: from common pool to common property?

Svein Jentoft


Fundamental to fisheries governance in Norway is the principle that marine resources and territories are no one's property, that everyone from the outset has equal access, and that the management responsibility therefore rests with the state as the principal steward of marine resources. In recent years, the issue of indigenous (Sami) historical rights of tenure has challenged this governance arrangement. This paper discusses how Sami rights claims have been handled politically, institutionally and legally in Norway. The recent proposal to secure Sami fisheries tenure in Finnmark County is described, to illustrate the need to communicate and deliberate on basic meta-governance principles as to what constitutes justice where tenure rights are concerned. Justice principles may align well with common property and tenure of the Sami, but such principles may also be supportive of common pool access and open access. The challenge is to find mechanisms that can reconcile conflicting principles.

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