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Daily Archives: 1. November 2015 − News & Stories


Mann­da­len – 01st Novem­ber 2015

Ins­tead of sai­ling sou­thwest, towards Lofo­ten, we hea­ded nor­the­ast, try­ing to escape from the wea­ther. Who needs for­ce 9 winds? So off into the fjords, behind the moun­tains, away from the coast. Deep in Kåfjord, the­re is Mann­da­len in the area that was tra­di­tio­nal­ly inha­bi­ted by the Sea Sami peop­le. As we learnt in the cul­tu­re and han­di­c­raft cent­re, the­re is not much left from the tra­di­tio­nal Sami cul­tu­re due to for­ced Nor­we­gia­ni­sa­ti­on in the ear­lier 20th cen­tu­ry. Few peop­le speak the Sami lan­guage still today, but even young peop­le are inte­res­ted in lear­ning the lan­guage of their grand­par­ents in cour­ses that are offe­red by the cent­re. Han­di­c­rafts are also enjoy­ing incre­a­sing popu­la­ri­ty.

A litt­le trail leads along pla­ces of Sami oppo­si­ti­on against sup­pres­si­on from out­side. Incredi­ble what the peop­le here had to endu­re. Not just that they could not speak their own lan­guage in public. Tho­se who could not pay their debts were depri­ved from their last belon­gings which were to be auc­tion­ed away then. No sur­pri­se that at some sta­ge the locals gave the Nor­we­gi­an lens­mann a good bea­ting with fence poles and cha­sed him away. At the end of the war, the Ger­man army burnt the place down as the last one in north Nor­way – as men­tio­ned befo­re, the­se peop­le had to endu­re all hardships of a mino­ri­ty in the 20th cen­tu­ry.

The­re is still a small hut. Its owner was sup­po­sed to pay dues on the buil­ding mate­ri­als after rebuil­ding it after the war, as was com­mon. He refu­sed this with a let­ter which can be sum­ma­ri­zed brief­ly, but cor­rect­ly, with the words „go to hell“. He was left in peace after that.

We were also not saved from some hardships when tho­se who were still with us on the 8 km trail in rain and darkness found that the last part of the small road had given way to a steep, slip­pe­ry, mud­dy slo­pe at a road con­struc­tion site. But the moti­va­ti­on to find a way after more than 6 km is con­si­derable, in con­trast to the wil­ling­ness to turn around and go the same way back.

Gal­le­ry – Mann­da­len – 01st Novem­ber 2015

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

The­re was not much to see for the rest of the day, just rain and darkness. No chan­ce for the nort­hern lights that ever­y­bo­dy came for, which is espe­cial­ly tough as the sun acti­vi­ty is cur­r­ent­ly said to be con­si­derable. Without coulds, we would pro­bab­ly see nort­hern lights all over the sky!

Oil and gas from the Arc­tic? Test dril­lings nor­the­ast of Sval­bard

During Sep­tem­ber and Octo­ber the Nor­we­gi­an Petro­le­um Direc­to­ra­te (Olje­di­rek­to­ra­tet) arran­ged seven test dril­lings nor­the­ast of Sval­bard. The finan­cing for the­se dril­lings was appro­ved by the Nor­we­gi­an Par­lia­ment (Stor­ting).

Such acti­vi­ties are high­ly con­ten­tious, par­ti­cu­lar­ly becau­se Nor­way clear­ly defi­ned that the­re should be no dril­ling for oil or gas bey­ond the sea ice edge, the line of maxi­mum sea ice expan­si­on in spring. This time the dril­lings were done along Svalbard´s east side, up to the island Kvi­tøya and were going down to 200 meters below the seaf­loor. This area lies out­side the pro­tec­tion zone of the archi­pe­la­go but it lies far north of the sea ice edge. In accordance with this fact, the Petro­le­um Direc­to­ra­te decla­red that the dril­lings had not­hing to do with the oil and gas indus­try. They were just sur­veys of the geo­lo­gi­cal struc­tu­re in this area.

The dis­sen­ting oppo­si­ti­on par­ties in the par­lia­ment, the social libe­ral Venst­re and the green MDG, con­dem­ned this ope­ra­ti­on shar­ply. If so far in the north, oil and gas extrac­tion is not inten­ded any­way and is not even allo­wed, at least so far, this ope­ra­ti­on was sim­ply a was­te of money, a spea­ker of the Venst­re said.

In recent years Nor­way pushed for­ward the explo­ra­ti­on of oil and gas fiel­ds in the North Atlan­tic – off Lofo­ten and Ves­terå­len – and in the Bar­ents Sea. But not even the­re extrac­tion is appro­ved ever­y­whe­re, and it is still con­tro­ver­si­al. It is rejec­ted among others by parts of the local popu­la­ti­on, envi­ron­men­tal asso­cia­ti­ons and by the fishing indus­try. Howe­ver, when lar­ge oil and gas fiel­ds are dis­co­ve­r­ed and explo­red con­ti­nuous­ly, as recent­ly hap­pen­ed in the Bar­ents Sea nor­thwest of Ham­mer­fest, this will obvious­ly crea­te facts, regard­less of the cur­rent legal situa­ti­on. Poli­ti­cal decisi­ons will be influ­en­ced by the pro­spect of eco­no­mi­c­al pro­fit. In 2012 the for­mer for­eign minis­ter Espen Barth Eide of the social demo­cra­tic Arbei­der­par­tiet alrea­dy made clear that eco­no­mic con­si­de­ra­ti­ons are prio­ri­ti­zed when it comes to the Nor­we­gi­an oil and gas resour­ces. Envi­ron­men­tal poli­tics can be adjus­ted, if necessa­ry (see also Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com news Nor­we­gi­an for­eign minis­ter about arc­tic oil and gas from Novem­ber 2012).

Nor­the­as­tern Sval­bard: a place for polar bears, ice and wil­der­ness, not for oil and gas.

Northeastern Svalbard

Source: TV2

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