spitzbergen-3
fb  Spitsbergen Panoramas - 360-degree panoramas  de  en  nb  Spitsbergen Shop  
Marker
Home

Daily Archives: 26. May 2022 − News & Stories


New levels of hys­te­ria. Com­ment by Mor­ten Jør­gen­sen

Com­ment writ­ten by Mor­ten Jør­gen­sen, regar­ding the dis­cus­sion about polar bears being dis­tur­bed by tou­rists (or not), see this arti­cle of the web­site owner. Comments of other per­sons do not necessa­ri­ly need to reflect my (Rolf Stan­ge, the website’s owner) opio­ni­on. But on a per­so­nal note: I have very high respect for Mor­ten regar­ding his know­ledge of polar bears and con­ser­va­ti­on and I stron­gly recom­mend Morten’s fol­lowing com­ment to all reader’s atten­ti­on.

Nor­we­gi­an aut­ho­ri­ties, insti­tu­ti­ons and sci­en­tists harass and end­an­ger polar bears, while the bla­me is shifted onto tou­rism and par­ti­cu­lar­ly inter­na­tio­nal ope­ra­tors

May 21, 2022 – Mor­ten Jør­gen­sen, con­ser­va­tio­nist

In Skin­bo­den, in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, you can buy the remains of a shot polar bear. In Ber­gen, the­re is a store-room with 100 slaugh­te­red polar bears. Nor­way is sin­gu­lar­ly the world’s grea­test per capi­ta importer of legal dead polar bear pro­ducts, and is pro­bab­ly a hub for the laun­de­ring of ille­gal tra­de as well.

In the one mon­th of April 2022 alo­ne, Nor­we­gi­an polar bear rese­ar­chers dis­tres­sed at least 50 live polar bears in Sval­bard (perhaps as many as 20% of the ent­i­re local popu­la­ti­on of bears). The­se bears were cha­sed by heli­co­p­ter, shot from the distance with a dart with seda­ti­ves, then man-hand­led in various ways which inclu­de blood sam­pling, bio­psy sam­pling and tooth extrac­tion, then left lying hel­pless­ly expo­sed in the envi­ron­ment until able to reco­ver enough to go about their busi­ness again.

I have 25 sum­mer sea­sons of expe­ri­ence from Sval­bard. After 2+ years of not working as a gui­de due to the pan­de­mic, I was lucky enough to spot my first polar bear of 2022 back in April, when from the ship I was on and through my high-power bino­cu­lars I noti­ced way in the distance a fema­le bear with a cub-of-the-year eating off a rein­de­er car­cass just in from the shore­li­ne abo­ve a low cliff. An hour later, she was still rela­xed and fee­ding, while her cub was play­ing around her, dar­ting in and out of holes in the snow drifts. The ship was perhaps half a mile or more from the sce­ne, while tho­se with very long len­ses in the two Zodiacs that were clo­ser but at a respec­ta­ble distance were able to get some­what decent shots of the sce­ne. This peace­ful and delight­ful sce­ne was then des­troy­ed by a coast-guard heli­co­p­ter ‘inspec­tion’. The polar bear mother stif­fe­ned alrea­dy when the heli­co­p­ter was still far away (she was col­la­red, so had obvious­ly been trau­ma­ti­zed befo­re), and as the heli­co­p­ter flew low over the area, she had alrea­dy stop­ped eating. Minu­tes later, she was scramb­ling up the hills­i­de, aban­do­ning her meal to go into hiding. In an attempt to pro­ve tou­rists wrong, aut­ho­ri­ties (again) bro­ke their own laws.

The abo­ve three para­graphs descri­be the rea­li­ty of how the offi­cial Nor­way tre­ats polar bears. They are com­mo­di­ties, com­mer­cial tra­de items. They are stu­dy sub­jects that may ran­dom­ly and exces­si­ve­ly be trea­ted as non-sen­tient objects. And they are a tool see­min­gly to be explo­i­ted for the poli­ti­cal agen­da of New Nor­we­gi­an Natio­na­lism, whe­re making Sval­bard more Nor­we­gi­an that the Spits­ber­gen Trea­ty actual­ly allows seems to be the dri­ving moti­va­ti­on behind not least the per­se­cu­ti­on of the tou­rism indus­try and espe­cial­ly its inter­na­tio­nal ope­ra­tors.

In an age of fake news and wild con­spi­ra­cy theo­ries, I shall be care­ful not to say out­right that the­re is a coor­di­na­ted attack going on, and that the well-being of polar bears has been taken hos­ta­ge as a con­ve­ni­ent excu­se for poli­ti­ci­zed mani­pu­la­ti­ons. But it sure loo­ks that way.

It loo­ks that way when a jour­na­list from NRK, ins­tead of being fired for lack of sobrie­ty and inte­gri­ty, gets away with a head­line like “Polar bears are dis­tur­bed around the clock by tou­rists” – in a sen­sa­tio­na­list arti­cle full of spe­cu­la­ti­on, fal­se­hoods and fin­ger-poin­ting. (edi­to­ri­al note: click here for the NRK arti­cle).

It loo­ks that way when the Assi­stant Gover­nor of Sval­bard (‘Sys­sel­mes­te­ren’ in its­elf being an unde­mo­cra­tic insti­tu­ti­on whe­re legis­la­ti­ve, exe­cu­ti­ve and judi­cial powers are not sepa­ra­ted), can be quo­ted for say­ing both that poten­ti­al law-breaks are still being inves­ti­ga­ted, but also that it is clear that laws have been bro­ken! Sounds a lot like ‘assu­med guil­ty until pro­ven guil­ty’.

In loo­ks that way when the orga­ni­zed part of the ship-based tou­rism indus­try feels so under attack that its knee-jerk reac­tion is a cowe­ring defen­se mode, inclu­ding the intro­duc­tion of a poli­cy of self-cen­sor­s­hip, becau­se appearan­ces are more important than actions. And when a spo­kes­per­son for that same part of the tou­rism indus­try, rather than coun­te­ring the many outra­ge­ous claims with a digni­fied refe­rence to the over­all posi­ti­ve track-record of Sval­bard tou­rism, ins­tead sto­ops to par­ti­ci­pa­ting in the sca­pe­goa­ting and sowing fur­ther divi­si­on by clai­ming that some parts of the tou­rism sec­tor are inde­ed bad actors, and that it hap­pens to be just tho­se who are not mem­bers of the incre­a­singly exces­si­ve­ly poli­ti­cal­ly cor­rect, pri­va­te, lob­by orga­niz­a­ti­on, from which she draws her sala­ry.

Polar bears are being explo­i­ted in so many ways. Let me high­light five of them.

1. Three nati­on sta­te governments allow com­mer­cia­li­zed polar bear hun­ting, cal­ling it cul­tu­ral reco­gni­ti­on, when it de fac­to is part of the dis­gui­sing of a con­ti­nued neo-colo­ni­al sup­pres­si­on of local (remo­te, Arc­tic) mino­ri­ties.
2. Nor­way cas­hes in on inter­na­tio­nal com­mer­cial tra­ding in polar bear body parts.
3. World-wide fake wild­life con­ser­va­ti­on NGOs use polar bears as icons to collect money, by bemoa­ning how end­an­ge­red they are, while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly sup­por­ting the con­ti­nued exces­si­ve com­mer­cia­li­zed hun­ting of them.
4. Nume­rous sci­en­tists trau­ma­ti­ze polar bears repeated­ly and exces­si­ve­ly to main­tain most­ly irrele­vant stu­dies, care­ers, and fun­ding.
5. Sval­bard tou­rists take pho­to­graphs from the decks of small ships or from Zodiacs of polar bears in their envi­ron­ment, in 99% of the cases without cha­sing them, dis­tur­bing them, fee­ding them, luring them, or put­ting them in dan­ger.

Which explo­ita­ti­ons are benign, and which are offen­si­ve? You be the judge.
Who is actual­ly dis­tur­bing and end­an­ge­ring polar bears? You be the judge. What is the real moti­va­ti­on for this ‘cam­pai­gn’ against tou­rism? You be the judge.

While we slow­ly sink our ship, the fidd­lers keep play­ing.

Back

News-Listing live generated at 2022/August/19 at 06:57:32 Uhr (GMT+1)
css.php