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Home* News and Stories → The sta­te of affairs

The sta­te of affairs

The new is alrea­dy near­ly 4 weeks old. Not too much has hap­pen­ed in Spits­ber­gen that has real­ly shaken the world, but nevertheless it is time to have a look at the sta­te of affairs.

C & O in Lon­gye­ar­by­en

C as in coro­na, O as in Omi­kron – I guess the­re is hard­ly anyo­ne who can still hear it without get­ting tur­ned off. And who will be sur­pri­sed that C & O are now well estab­lis­hed also local­ly in Lon­gye­ar­by­en? Pro­bab­ly nobo­dy. The num­bers of posi­ti­ve tests is well up in two-digit num­bers – wit­hin a popu­la­ti­on some­whe­re near 2500. And it is defi­ni­te­ly not just about tra­vel­lers who just came up with „imports­mit­te“ (impor­ted infec­tion). The virus is cir­cu­la­ting local­ly, inclu­ding the school.

Corona virus, Longyearbyen

🙁

Near­ly ever­y­bo­dy tra­vel­ling up to Sval­bard is obli­ged to take a nega­ti­ve test done in Nor­way wit­hin 24 hours befo­re depar­tu­re (and ano­t­her one after arri­val), some­thing that locals – popu­la­ti­on, eco­no­my, poli­ti­ci­ans – are not amu­sed about at all, also con­si­de­ring that this is not the case else­whe­re in Nor­way. And the­re are tho­se who ask why Sval­bard gets a dif­fe­rent tre­at­ment than the rest of the coun­try. The tou­rism indus­try is get­ting more and more ner­vous about the important win­ter sea­son, which has alrea­dy been lar­ge­ly lost in to con­se­cu­ti­ve years.

No sabo­ta­ge on the cables

No, this is not about the deep sea cable that con­nects Sval­bard to the rest of the world which was dama­ged a few weeks ago. It is still uncer­tain what has actual­ly hap­pen­ed to it and it will take some time until the dama­ge is loca­ted, let alo­ne repai­red. But the func­tio­n­a­li­ty has at least been res­to­red, so the­re is red­un­dan­cy in the com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on again and the who­le pres­su­re isn’t just res­ting on the second cable alo­ne any­mo­re.

In this con­text, the initi­al­ly mys­te­rious case of a dama­ged cable on the sea floor off north Nor­way was also dis­cus­sed. Sabo­ta­ge was at least not exclu­ded in eit­her of the­se cases, and one had to exer­cise a bit of self disci­pli­ne in order not to think of Norway’s big and cur­r­ent­ly rather ill-tem­pe­red neigh­bour in the east (no, not Swe­den). But at least for the case near the islands of Ves­terå­len in north Nor­way, sabo­ta­ge seems rather unli­kely now, as NRK reports: the still „mis­sing“ bit of the cable was „found“ – inde­ed it tur­ned out that the part of the cable that was torn off and later found in a distance of 11 kilo­me­tres from the ori­gi­nal loca­ti­on, was actual­ly com­ple­te, so not­hing was mis­sing any­mo­re. This was estab­lis­hed after the length of the cable could be mea­su­red more pre­cise­ly.

An inves­ti­ga­ti­on of the ship traf­fic in the area at the time in ques­ti­on has resul­ted in infor­ma­ti­on that points to a fishing ves­sel as the cau­se for the cable clut­ter. This had initi­al­ly been con­si­de­red unli­kely as it was belie­ved that such an inci­dence could not have hap­pen­ed unno­ti­ced and that the crew would have repor­ted it, but this has appar­ent­ly not been the case. As unplea­sant as the who­le affair still is for ever­y­bo­dy invol­ved inclu­ding tho­se who don’t get the data they need for their sci­en­ti­fic work, at least this is one poten­ti­al strain off from inter­na­tio­nal rela­ti­ons which are dif­fi­cult enough as they are.

And as men­tio­ned abo­ve, it remains to be seen if the­re is an equal­ly harm­less (at least from a point of inter­na­tio­nal poli­tics) explana­ti­on for the case of the Sval­bard cable.

Polar Per­ma­cul­tu­re: neit­her per­ma nor cul­tu­re

The busi­ness was neit­her perma(nent) nor was the­re suf­fi­ci­ent cul­tu­re in it, at least loo­king at the for­mal side of affairs: Polar per­ma­cul­tu­re was an eco-friend­ly hor­ti­cul­tu­re busi­ness gro­wing for examp­le kit­chen herbs in a dome in Nyby­en. Local and envi­ron­ment­al­ly friend­ly food pro­duc­tion was and still is an idea that many will sym­pa­thise with (inclu­ding this aut­hor). But in this case, the attempt, which see­med to work suc­cess­ful­ly for a cou­p­le of years, came to a rather sad end as the com­pa­ny went bankrupt during the coro­na cri­sis in spi­te of public aid. So far so under­stand­a­ble. But the pro­blem is that the whe­rea­bouts of sub­stan­ti­al amounts of money, from public and pri­va­te sources, could not be traced – and 2 mil­li­on Nor­we­gi­an kro­ner (about 200,000 Euro) are not small chan­ge, obvious­ly. It tur­ned out that „chao­tic“ seems to be a rather mild descrip­ti­on of the accoun­ting wit­hin Polar Per­ma­cul­tu­re. The Sys­sel­mes­ter is inves­ti­ga­ting the case accord­ing to Sval­bard­pos­ten, con­si­de­ring to open a legal case against the for­mer com­pa­ny.

And other than that?

That’s it for the moment.

By the way, my new book is in print and it can now be orde­red 🙂 it is a pho­to book with the tit­le “Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den (3): Die Bären­in­sel und Jan May­en”, with Ger­man text Click here for fur­ther details!

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last modification: 2022-01-27 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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