2014 Photo Contest, Contemporary Issues, Stories, 3rd prize

Last of the Vikings


Marcus Bleasdale

VII for National Geographic

25 February, 2012

Raymond Nilsen (32), on board his father’s whale boat, the Nordfangst, is one of the very few young local men to have taken up fishing in the past two decades.

The fishing community on the Lofoten islands of northwestern Norway is slowly diminishing, as their way of life is dying out. A traditional economy based on small-scale, sustainable whaling, and fishing from family-owned boats, is no longer viable. Whaling—which the islanders practice legally under an international dispensation, as an historically and culturally important industry—is a physically demanding and at times dangerous occupation. Costs are high and financial returns low, as there is no export demand for whale meat, and many Norwegians consider it Depression-era or eco-unfriendly food. Other fishing activity is being taken over by larger companies using trawlers, rather than small, family-owned boats. The younger generation is opting for safer, salaried work, away from the islands, often in the oil industry or tourism.

About the photographer

Marcus Bleasdale

Marcus Bleasdale is a documentary photographer who uses his work to influence policy makers around the world. His work on human rights and conflict has been shown at the US Senat...

Technical information

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

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