THE BATTLE OF TROLLFJORD

The Trollfjord is a small fjord in Lofoten. The fjord is 2,5 km long but only 100 m wide at its narrow entrance.  The beautiful fjord has steep-sided mountains surrounding it and is a spectacular tourist attraction in Lofoten today. Trollfjorden also was the scenery of one of the most well-known conflicts related to the cod fisheries in Norway.

The battle of the Trollfjord is often regarded as the conservative fishermens resistance to new technology. But the conflict was not so much about technology as it was about private capitalism and the wage system. The fishermens opposition was against a future as wage earners. Traditionally the fishermen owned their own boats and tools and were their own lords. The new fishing companies represented a new way of life on board the steam ships as employees and wage labourers.

Every winter from February to April the skrei, or North Atlantic cod, wanders into the Vestfjord basin and the fjords of Lofoten to spawn. In 1890 the skrei went particularly deep into the fjords, even into the narrow Trollfjord. Most fishermen those days used small traditional open boats with oars and sail. But a few shipping companies had been established and they used new technology steam-driven fishing ships with closing nets. One day at the beginning of March this year steamboats blocked the fjord mouth of the Trollfjord with nets. The steamboats then caught the fish inside but prevented the small boats to get access to it. The traditional fishermen raged and tried to enter the steamboats. The rising among the fishermen, their loud protests and demands for better conditions also reached the Norwegian government. As a result closing nets was prohibited in the Lofoten fishery from 1893.

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