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Home → July, 2012

Monthly Archives: July 2012 − News & Stories

Introduction of compulsory pilotage in Spitsbergen

The stepwise introduction of compulsory pilotage in Spitsbergen has started July 01. So far, pilotage is mandatory only for the sailing route to and from Sveagruva in Van Mijenfjord. The first ship that decided to make use of pilotage en route to Longyearbyen was the German cruise ship Aida Cara (passenger capacity 1186), as the Captain had never been to Spitsbergen before. The pilot came from Norway by plane for the job.

The Aida Cara used a pilote to go alongside at Bykaia in Longyearbyen on July, 02.

Introduction of compulsory pilotage in Spitsbergen - Aida Cara

Source: Svalbardposten (2612)

East Svalbard management plan

In mid July, the Sysselmannen has published his new proposal for a new management plan for the large nature reserves in eastern Svalbard. The radical earlier proposals which include closing most areas for public traffic seem to have vanished after strong critizism they have met almost everywhere. According to the Sysselmannen, the most significant changes from the present status quo are the closing of parts of Lågøya and Tusenøyane from May 15 to August 15.

Any comments on the current proposal can be forwarded to the Sysselmannen (where they will probably go straight to the bin unless you are part of the relevant higher beaurocracy in Oslo or you work for the Norwegian Polar Institute) until October 10.

Further details will be posted here as the process is going on.

Tusenøyane (Delitschøya, already completely off limits today, in the picture) are proposed to be closed from May 15 to August 15.

East Svalbard management plan - Tusenøyane

Source: Sysselmannen

Interesting wildlife encounters

Several interesting or even spectacular wildlife sightings have already been made during the still young expedition cruising in Spitsbergen. The most interesting ones may be 3 sightings of very rare Bowhead whales off the north coast, including one encounter with 2 individuals!

Bowhead whale near the north coast of Spitsbergen (2006)

Interesting wildlife encounters

Source: Personal communation with Morten Jørgensen (fellow tour guide)

No charting of waters around Spitsbergen in 2012

Officially, nautical safety is important enough to the Norwegian state that compulsory pilotage is about to be introduced. It is obviously however not important enough to continue charting of the coastal waters. Large areas, especially in the remote parts of the archipelago, are still mostly badly or even uncharted. Charting these waters would be far more useful to nautical safety than (compulsory) pilotage – without good charts, the pilot won’t know the dangers either. Nevertheless, it has recently been decided to give Norwegian coastal waters priority this summer.

Considering the current activity level, it will take another 40 to 80 years from now until all coastal waters around the Spitsbergen archipelago will be completely charted with modern methods.

Spitsbergen’s uncharted waters can have dangerous shallows.

No charting of waters around Spitsbergen in 2012 - Diskobugt 13.-22 Juni 2012

Source: Svalbardposten

Compulsory pilotage

Compulsory pilotage will from now on be introduced in Spitsbergen’s coastal waters. First legal steps have been made on July 01. Coal freighters will from now on have to have pilots on board for the passage in to the Norwegian coal mining settlement Sveagruva. Further legal steps will follow until the law is fully in force in 2014. All ships longer than 150 metres will then have to have a pilot on board.

Captains and nautical officers with local experience on smaller passenger ships can get a so-called fairway certificate which will enable them to sail without pilot. It was feared that regulations for these certificates would make it practically impossible for even the most experienced captains to obtain such certificates, but it has been announced that improvements will be made to adjust important details to local conditions.

Ein Kreuzfahrtschiff dieser Größe ist mit einem Lotsen auf der Brücke in Spitzbergen sicher nicht schlecht beraten. Im Bild die »Grand Princess« (3100 Passagiere Kapazität) am 29. Juni 2012 vor Longyearbyen.

Geology-guide for the Longyearbyen area

A little geological guidebook about the Longyearbyen area has now been published and will be officially presented on 30 June in the Svalbardmuseum in Longyearbyen. Earth history from the days of the dinosaurs through the coal age and more recent landscape-forming processes including glaciers and permafrost are briefly explained on 36 pages.

Authors are Karsten Piepjohn (Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe), Malte Jochmann (Store Norske Spitsbergen Kullkompani) and Rolf Stange (amongst others owner of this website). Christiane Hübner (Longyearbyen Feltbiologiske Forening) is the editor of the booklet, which is available in English, Norwegian and German.

All authors will be present during the official presentation, which will include a little excursion. Everybody who happens to be in Longyearbyen on June 30 is welcome. No problem if you are not there: the booklet will soon be available on this website.

The new Longyearbyen-geology-guide is available in English, Norwegian and German.

Geology-guide for the Longyearbyen area

Source: Morten Jørgensen (fellow expedition leader colleague)


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