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‘To fish or not to fish?’: fishing communities of Arctic Yakutia in the face of environmental change and political transformations

  • Stanislav Ksenofontov (a1), Norman Backhaus (a1) and Gabriela Schaepman-Strub (a2)


This paper assesses the vulnerability of Arctic fishing communities. We hypothesise that climate change related trends, such as increasing temperature and altered seasonality, and shocks, such as the breakdown of the Soviet Union or new fishing regulations, increase vulnerability of local Arctic peoples and compromise the sustainability of their livelihoods. Research shows that over recent decades local people have observed environmental changes and a significant decrease in the number of fish caught. Fishing regulations introduced after the collapse of the Soviet Union burdened fishers with quotas and temporal limitations that have hindered their fishing activities. While the adaptability of traditional fishing techniques to seasonally changing conditions might indicate the potential to adapt to future conditions under climate change, fishing regulations appear to limit this potential to adapt.

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