The use of fish skin for the construction of garments and accessories is an ancient tradition shared by Arctic societies in coastal areas. Arctic peoples have maintained a strong relationship with the environment, developing a subsistence lifestyle depending on the marine environment’s animal resources for food and clothing. Arctic fish-skin craft has become a way to communicate ecological change and traditional knowledge—effectively enhancing cultural resilience for the Arctic people. During the broad transformation occurring over the last century, Arctic indigenous peoples have demonstrated resilience to systematic colonization and repression of their language, culture and native fishing rights as well as dramatic ecological changes in seafood security. This paper looks at the role of fish skin in the Arctic as a way to bridge knowledge and social justice between generations and cultures and to nurture resilience during times of change and transformation.
Meanwhile, the use of fish skin by Arctic indigenous peoples has recently been assimilated as a fashion sustainable material alternative to exotic leather, due to its lower environmental impact. The Atlantic Leather tannery, located on the north coast of Iceland, has been one of the main agents in the renaissance of the fish-skin craft. Processing fish leather since 1994, based on the ancient Icelandic tradition of making shoes from the skins of wolffish, revived ancestral tanning techniques. The tannery has brought this historic eco-luxury material back into fashion, providing blue jobs for coastal dwellers in remote rural areas, maintaining the viability of the fisheries sector, and attracting young people to work in them. This paper looks at Atlantic Leather’s role in preserving the rich cultural traditions that have been developed within the Icelandic fishing industry while processing fish leather, promoting social justice through inclusive jobs.
🏆 Senior Researcher Award