Odd Terje Sandlund, Erling Berge, Bjørn Egil Flø, Tor F. Næsje, Randi Saksgård, Ola Ugedal
Mountain Research and Development 24 (1), 67-75, (1 February 2004) https://doi.org/10.1659/0276-4741(2004)024[0067:WFIMSN]2.0.CO;2
KEYWORDS: fishery, whitefish, Coregonus lavaretus, small-scale industry, niche market, labor shortage, Norway
Commercial utilization of inland fish resources can constitute an important addition to other economic activities in rural communities. Based on a case study of commercial whitefish fishery in Lake Femund, a mountain lake in southeastern Norway, this article outlines experience gained and indicates some of the general problems related to this type of economic activity. They concern aspects such as resource biology, product development and marketing, economic management, and staff recruitment. An initial hypothesis of the study was that commercial fishery would have a significant impact on the whitefish stock, causing fluctuations in yield and consequent variations in the economy of the fishery. Therefore, the study included an analysis of marketing possibilities for whitefish products, as well as of the social and socioeconomic conditions sustaining whitefish fishery in the local community. Nearly 20 years of data show that commercial fishery in Lake Femund, with a yield of up to 1 kg per ha, has a low to moderate exploitation rate. Thus, fishery itself does not generate fluctuations in the fish population that would influence yields. The major restrictions on the enterprise are related to other aspects, such as problems of economic and technical management of this specialized small-scale industry, difficulties in the recruitment of fishermen to a short-season fishery in a time when the employment pattern in the community is changing from seasonal activities in agriculture to full-time employment in manufacturing and services, and the challenge of developing and marketing competitive products for a niche market.