The people behind the site
I was working on a research project on local fish food, when I caught sight of people fishing in Stockholm city centre. While fish caught nearby was not easily available in Stockholm shops, people were fishing for bream, salmon, trout, zander, perch right from the city streets. I realised that local food research and movements have focused on urban greens, but less so on urban blues, and wanted to know more about what this urban fishing means for people and environment. I am a researcher at the Department for Urban and Rural Development of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.
Image by Viveca Mellegård
In 2016 I spent some time in New Jersey (NJ) visiting Rutgers University. Close to the town of Highland Park, NJ - the place where we used to live back then - flows the Raritan river. The river has a number of parks adjacent to it. Once me and my family were spending some time in one of those parks. We noticed that there were a couple of people fishing there from a small quay. When we got closer we were curious to see their catch. Buckets full of crabs. The fishers told us that they eat the crabs. They use them for their own dishes, but also gave them away to friends and families. On our way home we got to think about these fishers. So many cities are close to water. And cities are diverse places with people coming in from everywhere. Of course there would be people that fish in cities! And, as we had seen at the Raritan, they might not fish for enjoyment only.
Image by Annica Wernersson
Prior this project, my relation to fish was primarily as an avid open water swimmer—a reoccurring visitor in their life worlds. My research interest is in the human-animal relationship, that is, how we perceive of right and wrong in our interactions with nonhumans. When this project was put on my radar, I realized that I had not thought of fish. I also realized that fishing in many ways is the typical case of unsustainability. On a general level, it is an unregulated, exploitative, and uncaring human-nature relationship. There is no fish welfare legislation, fish stocks are depleted worldwide, and our emotions towards fish are underdeveloped compared to other animals. But it seems like there is also another story to be told. In Stockholm, many different fishing practices can be spotted: different methods, ways, and reasons for fishing. I am curious to explore what human-fish relationships exist on the shorelines of Stockholm!
Image by Svensson
Fishing has always been a big part of my life. I grew up next to the sea and my family were often in the archipelago with the boat. I am a curious person and the best thing I knew was to go netting along the shoreline. I am sure this was the start of my career. Today, I have a master's degree in aquatic ecology with fish as my main focus. In this project, I will compile information about the ecological status of waterbodies in and around Stockholm. There is a lot of information to be found, and I am curious to know what information the health of the urban waters convey. Is there a link between status of water and were fishers can be found and not found? There are many questions to be asked.
Feelings for fish is something that has been with me all life. I have always been fascinated by fishing, fish behavior and evolution, and keeping fish. Hence, as soon as I see someone fishing, or when I see a fish in the wild, will it be in the ocean, a mountain lake, a murky creek or in the city center, it immediate attracts my attention. I always have had a keen interest in knowing more, what species could be found in the specific water body and what are their conservation status?, why and how are people fishing?, what species are targeted and for what reason?. I am researcher at the Department of Aquatic Resources, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and my main research interests are fish ecology and fish stock status assessments with a focus on the Baltic Sea. The concept of Urban fishing raises a number of intriguing questions and offers an opportunity to engage in a transdisciplinary research field.
As an independent filmmaker based in Amsterdam, I have always been struck by the seeming calm of the street fishers amidst the hustle and bustle of the city. When filming “Fish in the city” in Stockholm I was awed by the many stories the urban fishers told us about why they fished. Stories about family, food, finances, about comradery, sports, nature and the Zen of fishing.
Image By Erik Andersson
What is often thought of as blue can also be white. As I am not too enthusiastic about boats, winter is when the blue commons open up for me. A doomed pleasure in these times of climate change perhaps, but I love long distance skating… When I get the opportunity I share the ice with the ice fishers, and while not a keen fisher myself I am envious when they catch something. Fresh fish – of different kinds, especially those rarely found in supermarkets or delicatessens – is a joy whenever an opportunity present itself. I am generally interested in how we understand and appreciate nature, and having worked primarily on land I am curious about how people relate to something that to me seems less transparent and more difficult know. In other words, I am curious as to what goes on under the surface.
I have been working with Sofie Joosse to learn more about fishing in the city. Not knowing much about the topic, I got intrigued by questions such as: Is it actually possible to fish in the city? What do people enjoy about fishing in the city? Can you eat the fish caught in city waters? I am a doctoral student at the Department for Urban and Rural Development at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, currently working on a different project, but still very interested in questions about urban fishing.
Image by unknown
Patrik is professor of Sustainable Development at Uppsala University, Campus Gotland. His research focuses on natural resources, with a specific focus on aquaculture and recreational fishing
Image by Ingrid M. Rieser
Anja M. Rieser
My relationship to fishing started early in life, as I grew up in the mountains where our mother would take us out in a rowing boat to set fish nets in the evenings and urge us up early the next morning to drag in fresh fish for Sunday breakfast. Since my childhood I have fished occasionally, and some years ago I joined my brother to fish in central Oslo. Here fishers were hauling in various fish with a span of different gears, storing them in volumes in solid coolers or simple plastic bags- a shoreline of different practices side-by-side. Years later I got to research urban residents’ practices here in Stockholm concerning urban green commons, understanding how urban residents relate to both planted and wild plants, berries, and mushrooms. I am therefore very excited to now explore urban fishers, which becomes a continuation of understanding how various people interact and have the ability to access nature in Stockholm, understanding more in-depth how sustainable and fair is the use of our common urban blue spaces.