Giitu - Thank you, Chair.
Allow me first to thank the organizers for providing me, as a representative of the Sámi parliament in Norway, the Sami people’s elected body, the opportunity to address this Symposium on managing the Atlantic salmon in a Rapidly Changing Environment. I also take this opportunity to congratulate NASCO (North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization) and NPAFC (North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission) and all of us on the initiative for the International year of the salmon. I bring you greetings from our president, Ms Aili Keskitalo. Unfortunately, she was unable to be here today. She asked me to wish everyone good luck with the symposium, and to tell you that she hopes it will be a great success.
On behalf of the Sámi parliament, it is my pleasure and honour to welcome all of you to Sápmi, the homeland of the Sámi people. Our settlement area extends over four national states, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. I hope you will have a great time her in Tromsø, or Romssa as it is called in the Sámi language. Romssa has been traditionally and still is an important gathering place for Sámi’s. There is a high number of Sámi’s living her. The university has many Sámi students. In addition, you can find many institutions in the city that researches and work on Sámi issues. At Tromsø Museum, there are exhibitions of the Sámi, separated between the traditional Sámi and way of life, and the modern Sámi and how it is to be Sámi today. I recommend you to visit the Tromsø Museum during your stay.
As we know, the Sámi people are one of several indigenous peoples in the Arctic, with differences in language, social organization and influence on our own future. However, the indigenous peoples in the Arctic have at least one thing in common: the basis of our lives and culture are tied very much to gathering of renewable resources. Quite a lot of identity and cultural self-understanding is related to how we make use of and connect our self to resources and landscapes. This is also the case in the relationship between the Sámi people and the Atlantic salmon.
Sámi and others who live along the coast are entitled to fish for salmon in the sea and in the rivers against the background of settlement and based on use since time immemorial and local and Sámi customs. Our homeland, Sápmi, includes many of the famous salmon rivers in this area, like the Tana-river, a border river between Norway and Finland. Sea-salmon fishing in our fjords has long traditions. Today, salmon fishing is of importance as well as income, often in combination with other traditional industries such as fresh and seawater fishing, small scale farming, hunting and gathering, and reindeer husbandry. The salmon's central position is made visible through our vocabulary and the food we eat. We also have traditional knowledge about the salmon life cycle. The Sami Parliament aims to ensure that our Sámi salmon fishermen will be able to continue to harvest like they have always done.
Traditional knowledges are clearly visible in the practices of salmon fishing. It makes visible the continuity in practices and communities of practice. The knowledges are expressed by the observations that people make, and through the relations that they have to the salmon. Different kinds of relations are established through different kinds of fishing methods. Both in the fjords and in the rivers. The rivers is for example experienced differently by different actors. The Sámi concepts that describe the water levels in the rivers can have different meanings. They are dependent on how people fish and where in the river the fishing takes place. Traditional knowledge is expressed through practices, observations and stories. It is our experience that state regulations on the management and exercise of the fishing do not take into account traditional knowledge. Even if the regulations shall facilitate a local, rights-based management of the fishery resources. Traditional knowledge practices are different from the public management practices which are mostly based on scientific knowledges. If traditional knowledges are to be brought into such management, the differences between knowledge practices have to be recognized. Those differences require space for expression. Traditional knowledges will only become available to public management if this can be achieved. Climatic change is taking place more than twice as fast in the Arctic as elsewhere in the world. In our area, we are not talking about 1.5 or 2 degrees of warming, but perhaps of 4 to 6 degrees already by 2050.
Changes in temperature drive many of the changes underway in the Arctic. Rising air, surface and ocean temperature accelerate the melting of snow and ice, including glaciers, and affect the chemical and biological systems in direct and indirect ways. Marine environments are affected. We see know that ocean acidification and other environmental stressors may affect specific Arctic ecosystems and ecosystem services, and affecting the livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples. The Sámi way of life and our traditional livelihood, especially in relation to fresh and seawater fishing, is therefore seriously threatened by climate change Sámi traditional industries are a cornerstones of Sámi culture, such threats can have fatal consequences for the future of our sámi culture and community life.The Sámi Parliament agree with the aim of the International Year of the Salmon. We must build resilience for the salmon and the communities that relay on the salmon fisheries. It is time to bring people together and share knowledge, raise awareness and take action. We recognize that salmon fishing must take place in a sustainable manner.
Finally, Mr Chair,
I must address our major concern. We cannot longer live with the disproportional reducing of the Sámi salmon fisheries in favour of tourist fishing and other states considerations. We simply ask for justice. The Sámi Parliament ascertains that the current sea salmon fishing regulations are very strict and that in 2016, the authorities introduced further restrictions in the fishing season in certain areas, so the very basis for the existence of salmon fishing in the sea is seriously threatened.In 2017, the relationship between human rights and the Norwegian authorities' regulation of salmon fishing in the Tana watercourse became strained. Following vehement protests from the Sámi parliaments in Norway and Finland, the Tana watercourse fish resource management, the municipalities involved, and all of the rights holders' organisations, with narrow majorities, the Norwegian and Finnish parliaments ratified a new agreement in 2017 between Norway and Finland on fishing in the Tana watercourse and related watercourse regulations. The agreement has both procedural and material shortcomings that run counter to human rights. The Sámi Parliament is of the opinion that efforts must continue to be made to renegotiate the Tana Agreement, so that it safeguards rights in relation to the watercourse and is experienced as legitimate and fair by the rights holders.
Ollu giitu - Thank you for your attention!