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Daily Archives: 16. August 2015 − News & Stories


Sys­sel­man­nen remo­ves gar­ba­ge from Svalbard´s bea­ches

This year an amount of 101 cubic meters of gar­ba­ge was coll­ec­ted on the Sysselmannen´s annu­al cle­a­nup crui­se to remo­te bea­ches in Sval­bard. The Sysselmannen´s ship ‘Polar­sys­sel’ was ope­ra­ting for eight days, approa­ching three places at the west- and the north coast of the main island Spits­ber­gen and two places in the nor­thwest of the island Nord­aus­t­lan­det. 24 vol­un­teers sup­port­ed the Sysselmannen´s crew in clea­ning the sin­gle coast­li­nes from gar­ba­ge that was washed ashore.

It is most of all pla­s­tic gar­ba­ge of dif­fe­rent kind and size from all over the world which floats on the ocean´s sur­face, some­ti­mes for years, and final­ly finds its way to the coast. And the big­ger part deri­ves from the fishing indus­try: fish­nets, fish­net floats, ropes and so on. For ani­mals the gar­ba­ge can turn into a lethal trap, in the water as well as ashore. Sea­birds for exam­p­le swal­low small pie­ces of pla­s­tic which they are not able to digest. They final­ly die by the accu­mu­la­ti­on of pla­s­tic pie­ces in their sto­machs. Birds and other ani­mals get ent­an­gled in ropes and fish­nets. On this year´s cam­paign the Sysselmannen´s crew found a reinde­er ske­le­ton com­ple­te­ly wrap­ped in a fish­net and in 2014 a polar bear was trai­ling a huge fish­net with its ear. The net got stuck at an ear­mark pla­ced by sci­en­tists (see also Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com news Again polar bear caught in fishing net from August 2014).

With 101 cubic meters the­re was more gar­ba­ge coll­ec­ted than last year (88 cubic meters). Yet, the Sysselmannen´s cle­a­nup crui­se was not as suc­cessful as expec­ted. In the begin­ning the work was two times dis­tur­bed by polar bears show­ing up and later bad wea­ther pre­ven­ted the approach to high­ly pol­lu­ted bea­ches. Spe­cial thanks go to the local popu­la­ti­on with its wil­ling­ness to sup­port the cam­paign. More than 200 locals vol­un­tee­red for the cle­a­nup and final­ly 24 were cho­sen to accom­pa­ny the Sysselmannen´s crew.

Gene­ral­ly, the Sys­sel­man­nen can only cover a very small part of Svalbard´s coasts with this annu­al cam­paign, as for exam­p­le this year the­re were only five bea­ches clea­ned. The­r­e­fo­re smal­ler pri­va­te expe­di­ti­on crui­se ships are a signi­fi­cant help in this case, as most of them con­stant­ly arran­ge simi­lar cle­a­nups with their pas­sen­gers (see also Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com news The Oce­an Cle­a­nup: solu­ti­on for the glo­bal pla­s­tic pol­lu­ti­on pro­blem from June 2014).

Fish­net washed ashore
© Chris­ti­an Nico­lai Bjør­ke

Bear-Fishernet

Source: Sys­sel­man­nen, Sval­bard­pos­ten

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