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Yearly Archives: 2011 − News & Stories

Posi­ti­ve net­to balan­ce in 2009

The Nor­we­gi­an public bud­get for Spits­ber­gen was posi­ti­ve in 2009, for the first time in 33 years. Main­ly tax inco­me from major com­pa­nies have con­tri­bu­ted to the inco­me. The mining com­pa­ny Store Nor­ske is the lar­gest tax pay­er (278 mil­li­on Kro­ner), fol­lo­wed by the oil and gas platt­form ser­vice com­pa­ny Seadrill Nor­ge (92 mil­lio­nen Kro­ner). In 2009, the net­to trans­fer was 33 mil­li­on Kro­ner from Spits­ber­gen to Nor­way. In com­pa­ri­son: in 2007, Spits­ber­gen was sub­si­di­sed with 310 mil­li­on Kro­ner, the figu­re for 2008 is 347 mil­li­ons.

Hap­py to have some cash in the bank: Reinde­er in Advent­da­len

Positive netto balance in 2009 - Adventdalen

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Envi­ron­men­tal impact of expe­di­ti­on crui­sing in Sval­bard

A new stu­dy has been published to assess the envi­ron­men­tal impact of expe­di­ti­on crui­se ships on the Sval­bard envi­ron­ment. The stu­dy has been made by Akva­plan-Niva, a rese­arch orga­ni­sa­ti­on and con­sul­tancy within mari­ne and freshwa­ter envi­ron­ment, and it was encou­ra­ged and sup­port­ed by AECO, an orga­ni­sa­ti­on that repres­ents the expe­di­ti­on crui­se ope­ra­tors in the regi­on. After obser­ving seve­ral smal­ler (70-100 pas­sen­gers) ships in the field, the aut­hors com­pi­led a detail­ed stu­dy con­cer­ning dif­fe­rent aspects of the ope­ra­ti­on. A sum­ma­ry includes the fol­lo­wing points:

  • The envi­ron­men­tal awa­re­ness among­st ship crew, gui­des and pas­sen­gers is descri­bed as high.
  • Ope­ra­ti­on and acti­vi­ties are alre­a­dy strict­ly con­trol­led by laws and self-impo­sed regu­la­ti­ons.
  • Emis­si­ons from smal­ler ship into air and water are “rela­tively low”.
  • Intro­duc­tion of new spe­ci­es in bal­last water, on the ship’s hull or atta­ched to clot­hing can poten­ti­al­ly be very dama­ging. The report sug­gests miti­ga­ti­on mea­su­res.
  • Fur­ther detail­ed stu­dies are nee­ded to assess the impact of repea­ted noi­se and pre­sence of groups on sea­birds and mari­ne mammals.
  • The lar­gest imme­dia­te thre­at to the envi­ron­ment is a major oil spill. Risk ana­ly­sis shows that the likeli­hood of such an event, cau­sed by an expe­di­ti­on crui­se ship, is “rela­tively low”: likely once in 300 years, expec­ted reduc­tion to once in 700 years within a few years once bet­ter charts and tech­no­lo­gy are available. It is con­side­red posi­ti­ve that rele­vant ships all use mari­ne die­sel (MDO/MGO) exclu­si­ve­ly, which is gene­ral­ly assu­med to be far less devas­ta­ting in case of spills com­pared to hea­vy oil, which remains far lon­ger in the envi­ron­ment. Nevert­hel­ess, poten­ti­al dama­ge of oil spill can be very serious, inclu­ding loss of a bree­ding sea­son and adult birds of local sea­bird colo­nies.
  • Actu­al num­bers do not reflect the increase of tou­rism that is often used as argu­ment for pro­po­sed fur­ther rest­ric­tions: the num­bers of per­sons who went ashore, as well as the num­ber of visi­ted sites, has remain­ed lar­ge­ly sta­ble sin­ce 2004/05. Lar­ge over­sea crui­se ships have expe­ri­en­ced rela­tively strong growth, but the­se ships visit main­ly the sett­le­ment and Grav­ne­set in Mag­da­le­nefjord, but hard­ly land pas­sen­gers else­whe­re. The acti­ve ban on hea­vy oil in all pro­tec­ted are­as and the end of tem­po­ra­ry regu­la­ti­ons (allo­wing hea­vy oil on shor­test safe rou­tes to sett­le­ments and into Mag­da­le­nefjord until 2014) is expec­ted to redu­ce the num­ber of lar­ge crui­se ships dra­sti­cal­ly.

Polar Star was one of the ships obser­ved by Akva­plan-Niva

Environmental impact of expedition cruising in Svalbard - Polar Star

Source: Sval­bard Sci­ence Forum, inclu­ding the report by Akva­plan Niva

Jason Roberts “expel­led”

A let­ter of the Nor­we­gi­an aut­ho­ri­ty for for­eig­ners to Jason Roberts, Aus­tra­li­an citi­zen living in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, has crea­ted con­fu­si­on. Jason runs a Lon­gye­ar­by­en-based com­pa­ny assis­ting major film pro­duc­tions.

In 2009, Jason tur­ned his com­pa­ny into a share­hol­der com­pa­ny, for which other regu­la­ti­ons app­ly. The unfo­re­seen con­se­quence was that Jasons rou­ti­ne appli­ca­ti­on for for a work per­mit in Nor­way was tur­ned down. Jason needs such a per­mit only for occa­sio­nal work in Nor­way, but not in Sval­bard. Nevert­hel­ess, the for­eig­ners aut­ho­ri­ty infor­med Roberts that he has to “lea­ve Nor­way vol­un­t­a­ri­ly” and cont­act the Sys­sel­man­nen to dis­cuss fur­ther details. In the Sys­sel­man­nen, though, it was quick­ly clear that the let­ter had to be wrong. As all citi­zens of Spits­ber­gen trea­ty signa­to­ry count­ries, Roberts has auto­ma­ti­cal­ly equal and unli­mi­t­ed rights to live and work in Sval­bard wit­hout any appli­ca­ti­ons or per­mits. The for­eig­ner aut­ho­ri­ty said the let­ter was “some­what mis­lea­ding”. Roberts hims­elf made rather clear that he was not amu­sed.

Locked out …?

Jason Roberts expelled

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Polar bear to Japan?

The Japa­ne­se zoo Nihond­ai­ra has appli­ed for a fema­le polar bear from Spits­ber­gen to be deli­ver­ed to Japan, for exhi­bi­ti­on tog­e­ther with a male bear that alre­a­dy lives in the zoo, and to pro­du­ce off­spring.

The Sys­sel­man­nen in Lon­gyear­ben reac­ted reluc­tant­ly, say­ing a good reason could not be seen to catch a polar bear in Spits­ber­gen for deli­very to a Japa­ne­se zoo, and that the mat­ter is not rea­li­stic. Polar bears are com­ple­te­ly pro­tec­ted in Spits­ber­gen sin­ce 1973.

Likes to stay whe­re she is: polar bear in Sval­bard

Polar bear to Japan - Halvmaaneoya

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Dog kil­led by polar bear

A polar bear has atta­cked the dogs of the Polish rese­arch sta­ti­on in Horn­sund. One was kil­led, two more were inju­red. The bear had alre­a­dy spent seve­ral days around the sta­ti­on and atta­cked the dogs. Even war­ning shots and rub­ber bul­lets had fai­led to sca­re the bear away.

The Sys­sel­man­nen has now tried to sca­re the bear away with the heli­c­op­ter. All sta­ti­on mem­bers were vac­ci­na­ted against rabies, as some had been in touch with the dogs that had been atta­cked.

Polar bear and dog, Kapp Lin­né (1999). The dog sur­vi­ved wit­hout inju­ries, but had to step asi­de and let the bear have its din­ner.

Polar Bear

Source: Sys­sel­man­nen

Spits­ber­gen: a tax oasis?

Becau­se of the regu­la­ti­ons of the Spits­ber­gen trea­ty, Spits­ber­gen is VAT-free zone and has a low com­pa­ny tax of 16 % rather than 28 %, as in main­land Nor­way. Con­se­quent­ly, Lon­gye­ar­by­en is an attrac­ti­ve place for com­pa­nies to sett­le down, but aut­ho­ri­ties are get­ting stric­ter on con­di­ti­ons to be met by com­pa­nies taxa­ting in Spits­ber­gen: a local office and manage­ment are nee­ded. The low tax regu­la­ti­on is for local com­pa­nies rather than tax refu­gees.

Two com­pa­nies have recent­ly been „expel­led“ from Spits­ber­gen, inclu­ding a daugh­ter of the oil rigg pro­vi­der Seadrill Nor­ge. With only one man in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, the com­pa­ny had an inco­me of about 700 mil­li­on Nor­we­gi­an Kro­ner (88 mil­li­on Euro), more than the lar­gest local employ­er Store Nor­ske (mining, 557 mil­li­on Kro­ner).

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Cli­ma­te chan­ge in and around Spits­ber­gen

Ever­y­bo­dy is tal­king about cli­ma­te chan­ge in the arc­tic, but what is actual­ly going on? The Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te, through its MOSJ-pro­ject (envi­ron­men­tal moni­to­ring of Sval­bard and Jan May­en), has gathe­red a ran­ge of data that make it quite clear that acce­le­ra­ting cli­ma­te chan­ge is a mea­sura­ble fact: the tem­pe­ra­tu­re has a ten­den­cy to increase during most of the 20th cen­tu­ry, with a mark­ed and still incre­asing acce­le­ra­ti­on in recent years. Pre­ci­pi­ta­ti­on is fol­lo­wing, alt­hough the trend is less pro­no­un­ced and clear here.

The sea ice has decreased by 35-40 % (area; refer­ring to maxi­mum dis­tri­bu­ti­on in April) from 1979 to 2009, and it is get­ting thin­ner: from 1.20 meters (1966) to 0,80 meters (2006) around Hopen island. Tem­pe­ra­tures at the top level of the per­ma­frost are by now incre­asing as fast as 1°C per deca­de, and gla­ciers around Ny Åle­sund have lost 15 meters of avera­ge thic­k­ness, also here with a stron­gly acce­le­ra­ting ten­den­cy in recent years.

Polar bear in open drift ice: sym­bol of cli­ma­te chan­ge

Climate change in and around Spitsbergen

Source: MOSJ (Mil­jøo­ver­våking på Sval­bard og Jan May­en), Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te

No per­ma­nent rese­arch sta­ti­on in Bil­lefjor­den

Skottehyt­te („Scot­tish hut“) in Bil­lefjord has been used by Polish sci­en­tists for fieldwork regu­lar­ly sin­ce 1984. In 2008, the Sys­sel­man­nen has announ­ced not to give fur­ther per­mis­si­on for this kind of use; the reason being that the hut, which is owned by the hun­ting and fishing socie­ty in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, was so full with equip­ment that it could hard­ly be used by others any­mo­re.

The Poles have then appli­ed for per­mis­si­on to estab­lish a new, per­ma­nent base near the old hut. The appli­ca­ti­on was tur­ned down to pro­tect the wil­der­ness cha­rac­ter of the area and becau­se it is gene­ral poli­cy that sci­ence shall main­ly be car­ri­ed out from exis­ting infra­struc­tu­re.
Pol­and is the only coun­try that has seve­ral rese­arch faci­li­ties out­side the sett­le­ments: the Horn­sund sta­ti­on, an out­lier 12 kilo­me­t­res nor­thwest of it, the smal­ler sta­ti­on at Kaf­fiøy­ra (For­lands­und) and a sum­mer-base in one of the his­to­ri­cal huts in Calyp­so­by­en (Recher­chefjord).

Skottehyt­ta, Bil­lefjord

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten


On Janu­ary 05, a polar fox atta­cked the dogs of the wea­ther sta­ti­on on Hopen, the sou­the­as­tern­most island of the Spits­ber­gen group. Seve­ral dogs were bit­ten by the fox, befo­re it was kil­led.

Now it tur­ned out that the fox was infec­ted with rabies, a dise­a­se that is rare in Spits­ber­gen, but had been found befo­re (first time 1980, last time in 1999). Infec­tions, if not trea­ted medi­cal­ly, are in the end lethal, also for humans. Dead foxes or drop­pings should not be touch­ed; dead foxes should be repor­ted to the Sys­sel­man­nen so samples can be taken.

Curious polar fox


Quel­le: Mat­til­syn­et (Nor­we­gi­an aut­ho­ri­ty for food safe­ty)

Wreck of Petro­za­vodsk to be remo­ved

The Rus­si­an fishery sup­port ves­sel Petro­za­vodsk ran aground on the sou­the­as­tern shore of Bjørnøya in May 2009. A recent report sta­tes that small amounts of envi­ron­men­tal toxins inclu­ding bro­mi­na­ted fla­me retar­dants, lead, cad­mi­um and others are still on board and can be tra­ced in sea-bot­tom sedi­ment and mari­ne orga­nisms adja­cent to the wreck, alt­hough con­cen­tra­ti­ons are so far repor­ted not to be harmful to mari­ne life.

The wreck sits at the bot­tom of some of the lar­gest sea­bird colo­nies of the north Atlan­tic, which are strict­ly pro­hi­bi­ted by Nor­we­gi­an law. The Sys­sel­man­nen has now recom­men­ded that the ves­sel, which is alre­a­dy bro­ken into two parts, should be remo­ved, ack­now­led­ging that this ope­ra­ti­on would be cos­t­ly and may its­elf lead to the release of envi­ron­men­tal­ly dan­ge­rous sub­s­tances or invol­ved per­son­nel being put at risk.

The wreck of Petro­za­vodsk on the sou­the­as­tern coast of Bjørnøya, ear­ly July 2010

Wreck of Petrozavodsk to be removed

Quel­le: Sys­sel­man­nen


News-Listing live generated at 2024/June/17 at 13:13:14 Uhr (GMT+1)