Coastal and inland water areas in Finland have traditionally been under private ownership in conjunction with possession of land. Most of these water areas are managed jointly by the individual owners. In the late 20th century, an authoritative top-down management regime and regional decision-making layers were established and added to the system of local private water ownership. The demands for reorganization of the management regime were supported by the small size and scattered structure of privately owned areas, as well as by arguments of inequity between user groups and demands for increasing the efficiency of the system and rationality of fisheries policy. In this paper we study changes in the decision-making regime of the Finnish fisheries and conflicts connected to these. We will focus on the property right issues from different perspectives, with special attention to the significance of, and problems connected to, private ownership of fishing waters. Conflicts commonly include tensions between owners’ and users’ rights. Typically, local water owners have restricted the access of commercial or recreational fishermen to their areas, but the state authorities and legislation have supported the rights of the user groups. The authorities argue for equity and rational utilization of fish resources, while the water owners cannot understand why they are marginalized in the decision making concerning their own property. The conflicts reflect tensions concerning the cultural values and practical knowledge of the rural population, the use of scientific knowledge and urbanization.
Keywords: Property rights, Private water ownership, Fisheries governance, Fishing conflicts
Salmi, P. and R. Varjopuro. Private Water Ownership and Fisheries Governance in Finland. In: Microbehavior and Macroresults: Proceedings of the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade, July 10-14, 2000, Corvallis, Oregon, USA. Compiled by Richard S. Johnston and Ann L. Shriver. International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade (IIFET), Corvallis, 2001.