Twenty fishing families from a coastal village in northern Denmark are establishing a brand new kind of guild in order to take out huge loans in the local banks. To understand why this is necessary and how they are doing it, the intriguing interplay between European governments and a whole set of life-modes struggling for mutual recognition must be explored, including EU politicians, civil servants in the ministries, workers’ unions, private capital investors, regional authorities, environmental organisations, and self-employed fishing families. A new law introducing a forced legal process of maritime enclosure marks a turning point in the struggle. In the space of two years, this process has brought nearly 80 percent of all Danish fishing boats into the hands of venture capitalists.
“Traditional” European inshore fishery, however, is not necessarily dying; the twenty young fishing families are part of a larger, more complex European battle for recognition of common maritime resources in the EU. A contrasting comparative European ethnology is needed to explore this type of on-going contradictory European cultural processes.