Bridging diverse knowledge for improved salmon management: Linking cultural and biophysical dimensions

SALCUL is a multidisciplinary and partnership-based research project investigating and comparing different practices, knowledge and values related to Atlantic salmon. Furthermore, this project will develop processes for sharing and co-producing indigenous and local knowledge (ILK) and scientific knowledge based on social science traditions as well the natural sciences.  

Bag net fishing Bag net fishing. Photo: Ivan Kvalø

By broadening the knowledge base of Norwegian salmon management, emphasizing the interlinkages between natural and cultural environments, the project will establish a biocultural basis from which more legitimate and robust management processes can be developed.

Geographically, the project focuses on the Deatnu-Tana River in Sápmi, Northern Norway/Finland, and the Namsen River in Trøndelag, Central Norway, as well as these rivers’ adjacent fjords. These rivers are among the most productive Atlantic salmon rivers in Norway, as well as internationally. They are further included in the National Salmon Fjords and Rivers scheme for protection of Norway’s most important salmon populations. In both areas, the salmon has been of fundamental importance for the first people to make a living in these river valleys. For people living along these rivers and fjords, the salmon is still highly valued, forming a central part of the communities’ culture, identity, diet, economy, social relations and/or spiritual practices. By exploring and comparing the salmon cultural histories, practices and knowledges related to these different areas and their complexities, we will develop more nuanced understandings of various human-salmon coexistences and multiple ways of “knowing salmon.”

River Deatnu-TanaRiver Deatnu-Tana. Photo: Solveig Joks.

Grounded in local communities and with close cooperation between various knowledge holders and institutions, the project will facilitate individual, interdisciplinary and institutional learning between holders of indigenous and local knowledge, social and natural scientists and salmon management institutions. SALCUL will further our understanding of how knowledges develop and advance and identify practical and institutional barriers and opportunities for including indigenous and local knowledge in Norwegian salmon management. Our focus on expanding management processes to also include other knowledge types than the natural sciences will provide insights applicable also to other sectors of natural resource management, both nationally and internationally.

River Namsen.
River Namsen. Photo: Eva B. Thorstad / NINA.

Project information


Project manager: Stine Rybråten

Project period: 2019-2021

Funding: The Research Council of Norway, The Norwegian Environment Agency

Research group: 
Anders Foldvik, NINA
Eva Thorstad, NINA
Maiken Bjørkan, Nordland Research Institute
Camilla Brattland, The Arctic University of Norway
Einar Eythorsson, Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU)
Anders Hesjedal, NIKU
Sanne Bech Holmgaard, NIKU
Solveig Joks, The Sámi University of Applied Sciences
Tero Mustonen, Snowchange, Finland
Dorothee Screiber, Canada

Local partners: 
Deanučázádaga guolástanhálddahus/Tana River Fish Management Board 
Namsenvassdraget Elveierlag/Namsen River landowner association
Tana og Omegn Sjølaksefiskeforening/The Tana region sea salmon fishing association 
Norske Sjølaksefiskere avd. Nord-Trøndelag/Norwegian sea salmon fishers association
Deanu Musea/Tana Museum
Namdalsmuseet/Namdal Museum

Advisor group: 
Derek Armitage, University of Waterloo, Canada
Sturla Brørs, The Norwegian Environment Agency
John Law, The Open University
Marianne E. Lien, University of Oslo
Evelyn Pinkerton, Simon Fraser University, Canada
Håkan Tunón, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences