spitzbergen-3
fb  Spitsbergen Panoramas - 360-degree panoramas  de  en  nb  Spitsbergen Shop  
Marker
Home → April, 2021

Monthly Archives: April 2021 − News & Stories


Spits­ber­gen with SV Anti­gua (23.6.-11.7.): can­cel­led due to Coro­na

This latest can­cel­la­ti­on due to the coro­na cri­sis is defi­ni­te­ly a hard blow: the long Spits­ber­gen trip with SV Anti­gua from June 23 to July 11, 2021, is now can­cel­led. The par­ti­ci­pants will now be con­ta­c­ted by the Geo­gra­phi­schen Rei­se­ge­sell­schaft.

We had to make a decisi­on tog­e­ther with the owner of the Anti­gua, the Tall­ship Com­pa­ny. The cur­rent coro­na deve­lo­p­ment and rela­ted tra­vel restric­tions did not lea­ve us with any other choice. We would have loved to see a more effi­ci­ent start of the Euro­pean vac­ci­na­ti­on pro­gram­me, this might have made a dif­fe­rence but it was too slow to enab­le this kind of tra­vel­ling in June/July.

Spitsbergen with Antigua: cancelled because of corona

Spits­ber­gen with Anti­gua (June 23 – July 11): can­cel­led becau­se of coro­na.

Fin­ger cros­sed that we can car­ry out the remai­ning trips later in the sea­son, with SY Arc­ti­ca II in August/September and SV Anti­gua in Sep­tem­ber.

It pro­bab­ly goes without say­ing: anyo­ne who wants to tra­vel this sum­mer, will be well advi­sed to make use of the first oppor­tu­ni­ty to get a coro­na vac­ci­na­ti­on. Not­hing is offi­cial as of now, but it appears to be a rea­listic sce­n­a­rio that Nor­way may lift tra­vel restric­tions and pos­si­b­ly enab­le par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on in ship-based tou­rism initi­al­ly for tho­se who are ful­ly vac­ci­na­ted.

Trap­pers Trail: local dog sledge race took place

The­se days, it is news in its­elf if some­thing actual­ly hap­pens! This was the case last wee­kend, when the local dog sledge race “Trap­pers Trail” took place. You can’t pos­si­b­ly ima­gi­ne a public event with bet­ter distance and ven­ti­la­ti­on than a dog sledge race!

“Trap­pers Trail” is an annu­al event orga­nis­ed by the Lon­gye­ar­by­en dog club (hun­de­klub­ben) – they are the ones with the kennel near the polar bear warning sign next to the lake in Advent­da­len. It is an event for local mem­bers of the club, more a social event than a com­pe­ti­ti­on. Well, it is also a com­pe­ti­ti­on, but it is more than just that.

Trappers Trail: dog sledge race of the Longyearbyen dog club

Start of this year’s Trap­pers Trail: the tra­di­tio­nal dog sledge race
for the mem­bers of the Lon­gye­ar­by­en dog club.

The Trap­pers Trail race takes two days. The rou­te does requi­re a good level of trai­ning from all par­ti­ci­pants, both on four and on two legs. It takes them from Lon­gye­ar­by­en via Advent­da­len, Toda­len, Bøda­len and Cole­s­da­len to Cole­s­buk­ta – about 40 km in total – whe­re the dog club has a club house. The par­ti­ci­pants spend a night in tents and then return via Farda­len and the gla­cier Lon­gyear­breen. This second leg is about 30 km long – a bit shor­ter, but Fard­als­bak­ken, the ascent from Farda­len up to the pass over to Lon­gyear­breen, will push most teams into their reser­ves, befo­re the long descent down Lon­gyear­breen usual­ly pro­vi­des a rela­xed final run back to Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

Trappers Trail: dog sledge race of the Longyearbyen dog club

Cole­s­buk­ta is the desti­na­ti­on of the first day. Here, Lon­gye­ar­by­en dog club owns a hut and the par­ti­ci­pants of the Trap­pers Trail race spend a night in tents befo­re they return on Sunday
(archi­ve image).

The race is an annu­al high­light for the club mem­bers and local onloo­kers. The com­ple­te event hap­pens out­side and was thus pos­si­ble to hap­pen also under coro­na con­di­ti­ons.

Trap­pers Trail: Pho­to gal­le­ry

Max Schwei­ger was on loca­ti­on and pro­vi­ded pho­tos – tusen takk, Max!

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

Arc­tic online pre­sen­ta­ti­ons “Arc­tic Wed­nes­day”: final night with Tho­mas Ulrich

It star­ted with a cou­p­le of pre­sen­ta­ti­ons in Novem­ber and Decem­ber, and in Janu­a­ry, Bir­git Lutz and I joi­ned for­ces and crea­ted the online pre­sen­ta­ti­on seri­es “The Arc­tic Wed­nes­day”. Next Wed­nes­day, 28 April, the cur­rent seri­es will come to an end, when the Swiss polar adven­tu­rer Tho­mas Ulrich takes up to the hig­hest lati­tu­des. “Arc­tic Solo” is the dra­ma­tic sto­ry of a North Pole Expe­di­ti­on that brought Tho­mas into dan­ge­rous and despe­ra­te situa­tions – ant it is the sto­ry of Tho­mas fin­ding a way out and to con­ti­nue stron­ger than ever.

Thomas Ulrich: Arctic Solo, online presentation

Tho­mas Ulrich: “Arc­tic Solo”. A dra­ma­tic adven­ture as the final high­light of the arc­tic online pre­sen­ta­ti­on seri­es “The Arc­tic Wed­nes­day”.

Whe­re Bir­git and I, with con­tri­bu­ti­ons by Udo Zoephel (the MOSAiC-expe­di­ti­on), San­dra Wal­ser (Hans Beat Wieland/Wilhelm Bade) and Hen­ry Páll Wul­ff (Ice­land), focus­sed on know­ledge of dif­fe­rent arc­tic are­as and various chap­ters of the regio­nal histo­ry, Tho­mas will take us out into the wild! A final high­light that were a real­ly exci­ted about, and we hope that many of you will join us!

The pre­sen­ta­ti­on will be in Ger­man. Click here for tickets.

Thomas Ulrich: Arctic Solo, online presentation

In the pre­sen­ta­ti­on “Arc­tic Solo”, we will encoun­ter a lot of ice, icy tem­pe­ra­tures and defi­ni­te­ly a polar bear every now and then.

The pro­ject “The Arc­tic Wed­nes­day” has deve­lo­ped with ama­zing for­ce and it has kept us busy for several mon­ths. It has car­ri­ed us through a peri­od that is not the easiest of all times for the tra­vel indus­try, espe­cial­ly for self-employ­ed/­free­lan­ce guides/expedition leaders/authors/photographers who often can not count on public sup­port during the coro­na cri­sis. So the “Arc­tic Wed­nes­day” has been a pro­ject of vital impor­t­ance for us – a big, warm, heart-felt “thank you” to ever­y­bo­dy who has joi­ned us on Wed­nes­day evenings sin­ce ear­ly Janu­a­ry! We will con­ti­nue, that’s pret­ty sure. But after next Wednesday’s pre­sen­ta­ti­on, it is time for a break. Both Bir­git and I have got other pro­jects that do requi­re our atten­ti­on, and let’s hop that the arc­tic sum­mer will give us the chan­ce to tra­vel again. Fin­gers cros­sed!

Tho­mas Ulrich: Arc­tic Solo (pre­sen­ta­ti­on)

Some impres­si­on of Tho­mas Ulrich’s arc­tic adven­tures. Join us on Wed­nes­day for more!

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

Cod war bet­ween Nor­way and EU about to esca­la­te

A new “cod war”, a con­flict about fishing rights, has been lur­king in the Bar­ents Sea alrea­dy for some time. The pro­blem is a dis­agree­ment about cod quo­tas for Euro­pean fishing ships in the 200 mile zone around Sval­bard. The mat­ter is com­plex.

The pro­blem: EU fishing quo­tas after the Bre­x­it

On the sur­face, the pro­blem appears to be new quo­tas for Euro­pean fishing ves­sels that Nor­way has set after the Bre­x­it by deduc­ting the Bri­tish quo­ta from the Euro­pean allo­wan­ce. The new Euro­pean quo­ta amounts to 17,885 tons, accord­ing to NRK, while Bri­tish fishing ves­sels are affor­ded a quo­ta of 5,000 tons. The EU, howe­ver, is not hap­py about this new quo­ta and reac­ted by allo­ca­ting them­sel­ves a quo­ta of 28,431 tons, some­thing that is not accep­ted by Nor­way. The EU accu­sed the cur­rent Nor­we­gi­an fishe­ry poli­cy of being arbi­tra­ry and discri­mi­na­to­ry.

Both sides have now ver­bal­ly rig­ged up, both say­ing they are pre­pa­red to take steps as necessa­ry to take care of their rights. Nor­way has made clear that coast­guard and poli­ce are rea­dy to take the usu­al steps in case they find fishing ves­sels with ille­gal catch in their waters, inclu­ding con­fis­ca­ti­on of ships and cat­ches and arre­sta­ti­on of crews. It was Lars Fau­se, chief pro­se­cu­tor in north Nor­way, who said this. Later this year, Fau­se will fol­low Sys­sel­mann Kjers­tin Askholt in Lon­gye­ar­by­en as the first one to bear the gen­der-neu­tral tit­le Sys­sel­mes­ter.

Cod, Spitsbergen

Yum­my cod taken in Isfjord.
The con­flict bet­ween the EU and Nor­way is, howe­ver, about other volu­mes.

Key pro­blem: the Spits­ber­gen Trea­ty

But the essen­ti­al pro­blem is hid­den in the para­graphs of the Spits­ber­gen Trea­ty. The second arti­cle of the trea­ty gua­ran­tees that “Ships and natio­nals of all the High Con­trac­ting Par­ties shall enjoy equal­ly the rights of fishing and hun­ting in the ter­ri­to­ries spe­ci­fied in Arti­cle 1 and in their ter­ri­to­ri­al waters.” The pro­blem is the defi­ni­ti­on of “ter­ri­to­ri­al waters”. The Spits­ber­gen Trea­ty was signed in 1920. Until then, most coun­tries loo­ked upon coas­tal waters wit­hin 3 miles (a gun shot) as their ter­ri­to­ri­al waters. It was not befo­re 1921 that governments began to inclu­de the waters as far out as 12 miles into their own ter­ri­to­ry. Until today, this is not ever­y­whe­re as clear­ly defi­ned as one might think or wish, but as far as this, the­re is con­sen­sus in the area in ques­ti­on: ever­y­bo­dy agrees that the Spits­ber­gen Trea­ty is valid wit­hin the 12 mile zone (ter­ri­to­ri­al waters) around Sval­bard, mea­ning that fishing ships of all trea­ty par­ties enjoy equal rights the­re.

The pro­blem starts when it comes to the exclu­si­ve eco­no­mic zone (EEZ), which stret­ches as far as 200 miles from the coast. Hence, the EEZ is much lar­ger and inclu­des lar­ge and valu­able bio­lo­gi­cal resour­ces. The EEZ was, howe­ver, not defi­ned in inter­na­ti­nal law befo­re 1982, when the United Nati­ons Con­ven­ti­on on the Law of the Sea was con­clu­ded.

Based on arti­cle 1 of the Spits­ber­gen Trea­ty, Nor­way claims “full and abso­lu­te sov­er­eig­n­ty” also of the lar­ge exclu­si­ve eco­no­mic zone (200 mile zone), but insists at the same time that arti­cle 2 ot the same trea­ty, which gives all trea­ty par­ties equal rights, is not valid the­re. In con­trast, Nor­way claims exclu­si­ve rights in the EEZ. It does not real­ly sur­pri­se that the­re are tho­se trea­ty par­ties who do not agree with this posi­ti­on.

Coastguard, Spitsbergen

The coast­guard gua­ran­tees Nor­we­gi­an sov­er­eig­n­ty in the waters around Spits­ber­gen. Unfriend­ly encoun­ters of coast­guard ves­sels and EU fishing ves­sels may be com­ing up.

The Spits­ber­gen Trea­ty and the “exclu­si­ve eco­no­mic zone (EEZ)”

Wha­te­ver one’s posi­ti­on is on the ques­ti­on wether or not the Spits­ber­gen Trea­ty and its fun­da­men­tal princip­le of equal rights and access (non-discri­mi­na­ti­on) is to be app­lied in the EEZ, the­re can hard­ly be any doubts that fishing ves­sels from the EU or third coun­tries need to respect Nor­we­gi­an eco­no­mi­c­al rights in the­se waters. The ques­ti­on is, howe­ver, how Nor­way may balan­ce the quo­tas that are allo­ca­ted to for­eign fishing ves­sels rela­ti­ve to their natio­nal quo­tas: accord­ing to the princip­le of non-discri­mi­na­ti­on (if arti­cle 2 of the Spits­ber­gen Trea­ty is to be app­lied) or exclu­si­ve­ly.

A com­plex mat­ter. What is clear­ly mis­sing is an aut­ho­ri­ty accap­ted by all sides that could deci­de on such mat­ters of inter­pre­ta­ti­on regar­ding the Spits­ber­gen Trea­ty. Nor­way insists to pos­sess the exclu­si­ve aut­ho­ri­ty to such ques­ti­ons, but that is not accep­ted by Brussels.

While the­re is poli­ti­cal and juri­di­cal need for cla­ri­fi­ca­ti­on, both the Nor­we­gi­an coast­guard and Euro­pean fishing ves­sels are get­ting pre­pa­red and con­flicts are to be fea­red. The stag­ge­red obser­ver keeps watching and won­de­ring.

Vic­tims of domestic vio­lence in Sval­bard poten­ti­al­ly in defen­celess posi­ti­on

Kri­se­sen­te­ret Trom­sø, an insti­tu­ti­on to help vic­tims of domestic vio­lence, has rai­sed an alar­ming deba­te. Accord­ing to an arti­cle publis­hed in NRK, vic­tims of domestic vio­lence may be in a far more hel­pless situa­ti­on in Lon­gye­ar­by­en than in main­land Nor­way.

Back­ground: the Spits­ber­gen Trea­ty

The back­ground is rela­ted to the Spits­ber­gen Trea­ty, accord­ing to which citi­zens of all signa­to­ry coun­tries have free access to Sval­bard. As a result, ever­y­bo­dy can live and work the­re without visa and work per­mit restric­tions (a Schen­gen visa can be necessa­ry to get to Spits­ber­gen becau­se access is only avail­ab­le through the Schen­gen trea­ty area).

Hence, the Nor­we­gi­an “utlen­dingslo­ven” (for­eig­ner law) is not valid in Sval­bard, which regu­la­tes access and resi­dents of for­eig­ners in Nor­way. But this law also pro­vi­des sup­port to non-Nor­we­gi­an vic­tims of domestic vio­lence in Nor­way, for examp­le access to dedi­ca­ted insti­tu­ti­ons such as Kri­se­sen­te­ret Trom­sø (or else­whe­re) and to lawy­ers, to name some examp­les. This is not avail­ab­le in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, becau­se the law is not valid in Sval­bard. This can put for­eign women, who are finan­cial­ly depen­dent on their part­ner, in a very dif­fi­cult posi­ti­on: if they are not able to sup­port them­sel­ves finan­cial­ly, then retur­ning to their coun­try of ori­gin is likely to be the only solu­ti­on avail­ab­le. But the­se coun­tries do often not pro­vi­de much of a per­spec­ti­ve, espe­cial­ly for peop­le who have left years ago and who may now have child­ren who may not have much of a rela­ti­ons­hip their mother’s coun­try of ori­gin. As a result, such women may stay in a vio­lent rela­ti­ons­hip lon­ger than they might have done with more sup­port.

Longyearbyen

For most peop­le, Lon­gye­ar­by­en is a good place whe­re you can have a good and safe life.
But the­re are excep­ti­ons, and for them, life can be even more dif­fi­cult than it would be in main­land Nor­way.

A lawy­er who works with vic­tims of domestic vio­lence comments this as fol­lows: “It appears as if Sval­bard is Nor­we­gi­an when it suits us and sud­den­ly it is not Nor­we­gi­an when it does not fit us.”

Two poli­ce cases of domestic vio­lence sin­ce 2020

Two cases of domestic vio­lence have been inves­ti­ga­ted by the poli­ce sin­ce ear­ly 2020. Sys­sel­mann Kjers­tin Askholt points out that the poli­ce fol­lows the­se cases up just in the same way as on the main­land. She sees Nor­we­gi­ans who live without resi­dence per­mit in a for­eign coun­try in a rela­ti­ons­hip with a local in a simi­lar situa­ti­on and exp­lains that, for the vic­tim, the­se cases may always have other con­se­quen­ces than for a citi­zen of the respec­ti­ve coun­try.

Mayor Arild Olsen reco­gni­s­es the pro­blem and sees the need to inves­ti­ga­te the mat­ter on a poli­ti­cal level.

Han­ne Sten­vaag, lea­der of the kri­se­sen­te­ret (cri­sis cent­re) in Trom­sø, is afraid that the­re may be a high num­ber of unre­por­ted cases.

Parts of Nyby­en clo­sed becau­se of avalan­che risk

The wea­ther in Spits­ber­gen has lar­ge­ly been rather unfriend­ly for a while with a lot of wind, snow and com­pa­ra­tively mild tem­pe­ra­tures. The Eas­ter wee­kend was not as ide­al for long trips into the out­doors as many would have wan­ted. A group of ski expe­di­tio­ners who wan­ted to go “Spits­ber­gen på langs”, a deman­ding tour from the south cape to the north point of the main island, had to be picked up by heli­co­p­ter just days after the start.

Gruvefjellet above Nybyen: avalanche risk

Gru­ve­f­jel­let abo­ve Nyby­en (the buil­dings are part of Nyby­en).

Cur­r­ent­ly, the wea­ther fore­cast again inclu­des a lot of wind and snow for Lon­gye­ar­by­en and lar­ge parts of Sval­bard, and this invol­ves a high avalan­che risk. The offi­cial warning sys­tem

wie­der Wind und Schnee bereit. Daher gilt in Lon­gye­ar­by­en und gro­ßen Tei­len Sval­bards wie­der varsom.no is now on “red” (sta­ge 4 out of 5).

Lar­ge cor­ni­ces have built up at Gru­ve­fel­let next to Nyby­en, the upper part of Lon­gye­ar­by­en. The­se cor­ni­ces may break off at any time and put buil­dings at risk. The Sys­sel­man­nen has con­clu­ded that the only way to keep ever­y­bo­dy safe is to evacua­te parts of Nyby­en until fur­ther noti­ce. This inclu­des the buil­dings on the east side of the road and the adja­cing slo­pe of Gru­ve­f­jel­let. Ever­y­bo­dy has to lea­ve from this area until 1800 today (Fri­day). The evacua­ti­on can only be lifted by the Sys­sel­man­nen, and it is not known when this will hap­pen.

Avalanche risk: evacuation  of Nybyen

The clo­sed area in and near Nyby­en.
Map © Nor­sk Polar­in­sti­tutt / Sys­sel­man­nen på Sval­bard.

Back

News-Listing live generated at 2021/June/21 at 15:22:43 Uhr (GMT+1)
css.php