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SIRI HERMANSEN

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BLACK SNOW PRESS

FREEDOM OF THE SEAS, 2024 (In process)

Film, photography, installation


Freedom of the Seas examines how powerstructures, globalization and capitalism challange democratic rights such as the common law court to the sea, and therefore also living conditions for both individuals ans societies along the coas of Norway.


The fishing industry is Norways second largest source of income after the oil. How is the opportunity to make aliving from fishing distributed in the Norwegian continental shelf? Who can buy fishing quotas and how much does it cost? Who are the owners?


These seemingly simple questions turn out to be complicated to Norwegian authorities to respond to.


The project is based on an interview Hermansen conducted with the former Norwegian Supreme Court Justice Professor Carsten Smith who presided coastal fisheries committee in 2009. The report established that people living in fjords and along the coastline have accrued from old times special fishing rights. The Stoltenberg government with the Fisheries Minister Helga Pedersen rejected the report, much to the disappointment of the Coastal Fisheries Committee, the Samis and the coastal population in general.


The title of the Freedom of the Seas derives from a legal principle that ws put forward in the 17th century by philosopher and Jurist Hugo Grotius. Essentially the principle limited the national rights and jurisdiction over the seas of a narrow seabelt surrounding of nations coastlines. The seas were declared free for all and should not belong to anyone. This situation only changed in the middle of the twentieth century, where naval states were a driving force to expand national requirements over offshore reseources.


The film will revolve around fisherman Svein Harald Holmen from Vardø, and his dream and hopes for a future as a fisherman. Despite political and economical obstacles, Holmen is investing in a new harbour. We also meet Professor in Fisheries law, Peter Ørebeck from the Arctic Universityin Tromsø. He states that the fishing quata system is a "robbery of the commons. "The quota the fisherman got for free in 1972 enabled him to sell a bouat that cost 1 million NOK for 8 million in 1978. Today the market value is NOK 35o million for the same quota".


In the National Audit Offices the investigation into the quota system in coastal and sea fishing Document 3:6 (2019-2020) the following is pointed out;  "It is objectionable that thereis no systematized and publicly available information on quota prices in Norway".

This makes it difficult to pursue a fisheries policy that ensures that only large scale commercial fishing businesses have the oportunity to conduct fishingg as a source of income.


The national Audits office report further shows that 80% of quota ownership is owned by large fisheries groups and not individual businesses.


The project will result in a film, installation and photography.

The project is financed by KORO and in collaboration with Pikene på Broen.