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The social in change: property rights contradictions in Finland

Pekka Salmi

Author Affiliations

Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute, Enonkoski, Finland

Maritime Studies 2012, 11:2  doi:10.1186/2212-9790-11-2

Published: 6 June 2012


The concept of social sustainability is occasionally used in fisheries political argumentation, but practical policies are typically guided by ecological and economic arguments rather than the social. On the other hand, social justice and moral acceptability are general prerequisites for successful fisheries governance. This paper studies the changing social dimensions in Finnish fisheries where interactions between the water-owner-based management system and various user groups have produced enduring contradictions. Along with a shift towards recreational fishing, the national and international levels of fisheries governance have largely replaced the local owner-based management system. Consequently, increasing numbers of new interest groups, rural–urban relations, management measures and governance institutions have become part of the fisheries complex. Contradictions typically culminate in fishing rights and the power to decide over access to fishing waters. The biodiversity and wildlife conservation measures have often underrated the social, as well as economic, aspects of fishing.