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Yearly Archives: 2023 − News

My own review Spits­ber­gen 2023 – hap­py new year!

Wat­ching the big wide world in 2023 was in part pret­ty pain­ful. Going fur­ther into that is not what I want to do here – that is done by others else­whe­re. And in con­trast, it is quite a plea­su­re for me to look back at my own year 2023, loo­king at “my” litt­le arc­tic world. From the begin­ning in the polar night to the first miles under sail with Mean­der in Nor­way to a long, beau­tiful arc­tic sum­mer in Spits­ber­gen, with good old Anti­gua, witht the beau­tiful Mean­der and the adven­tur­ous Arc­ti­ca II. And final­ly back to a lot of dark­ness – beau­tiful light, that is! – in main­land Nor­way.

I want to use the oppor­tu­ni­ty once again to thank ever­y­bo­dy who was part of this big jour­ney and who con­tri­bu­ted to making it so much fun! Big thanks to all of you, to fel­low tra­vel­lers, cap­ta­ins and crews, offices, fri­ends and fami­ly.

And now I am loo­king for­ward to 2024, to more time spent up north, to a lot of beau­ty and exci­ting expe­ri­en­ces shared with good peo­p­le. We will see what the year brings – it is the last year of the Anti­gua up north, and it may be the last year we can sail in Spits­ber­gen with the free­dom (within good regu­la­ti­on!) that we have enjoy­ed so far. Stran­ge­ly, we still don’t know when and how this will chan­ge. So the­re is not­hing real­ly to add to the update from Janu­ary 2023.

But in any case, I am very con­fi­dent that the sum­mer of 2024 will bring a lot of arc­tic natu­re and beau­ty.

I want to thank the year 2023 and all who were and are a part of it with this gal­lery of impres­si­ons. Tho­se who were with me on one or the other trip may reco­gni­ze good memo­ries … and for tho­se who were not on board, I hope you enjoy the pho­tos nevert­hel­ess. They are not neces­s­a­ri­ly all the 5 star num­ber one calen­dar pic­tu­re choice images, but rather repre­sen­ta­ti­ve of my own expe­ri­ence, enjoy­ing the wild beau­ty in silence and often in places that few peo­p­le ever have heard about, let alo­ne been to.


With all this said, I wish you a hap­py near year 2024! May it bring peace to the world, at least some more than the pre­vious two years … 🙏

Spits­ber­gen review of (gal­lery)

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

Ener­gy pri­ces in Lon­gye­ar­by­en on the rise

Ener­gy pri­ces are a mat­ter of deba­te in many count­ries and places. Lon­gye­ar­by­en is no excep­ti­on.

A new ener­gy solu­ti­on to replace the old coal-fired power plant has been dis­cus­sed in Lon­gye­ar­by­en for many years. In Octo­ber, the coal plant was final­ly taken out of ser­vice and repla­ced with die­sel gene­ra­tors. The­se are, on the long term, to be repla­ced with more envi­ron­men­tal­ly fri­end­ly, rene­wa­ble ener­gy sources – that is, at least, the idea.

Longyearbyen, coal power plant

Longyearbyen’s old coal power plant was taken out of ser­vice in Octo­ber 2023.

That is an expen­si­ve pro­cess for a small town. Ener­gy has always been expen­si­ve in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, and a signi­fi­cant pri­ce rise is to come soon.

In order to save smal­ler cus­to­mers from incre­asing cos­ts, the com­mu­ni­ty coun­cil Lon­gye­ar­by­en Lokals­ty­re has deci­ded to pass the pri­ce rise on to the four lar­gest ener­gy buy­ers. The­se are Avi­nor (air­port), KSAT (satel­li­te anten­nas on Pla­tå­berg), Store Nor­ske Spits­ber­gen Kul­kom­pa­ni (mining, the housing sec­tion is not con­cer­ned) and Forskningsparken/UNIS (sci­ence). Next to size and high ener­gy con­sump­ti­on, the­se four have in com­mon that they are all sta­te-con­trol­led.

As could be expec­ted, the idea of being the only pay­ers for hig­her ener­gy pri­ces is not met with gre­at enthu­si­asm by the­se four. KSAT CEO Ole Kok­vik has said that KSAT may have to con­sider other loca­ti­ons in the future, a solu­ti­on that is unli­kely to work for the air­port. Store Nor­ske may recon­sider the ope­ra­ti­on of mine 7. Curr­ent­ly, it is plan­ned to remain in pro­duc­tion until the sum­mer of 2025.

The dis­cus­sion is cle­ar­ly not over yet.

Nor­we­gi­an die­sel sold to Rus­si­an fishing ships

Nor­we­gi­an die­sel for Rus­si­an ships? That was com­mon prac­ti­ce until just a few weeks ago. The ships in need for fuel did not sail to Nor­we­gi­an ports such as Lon­gye­ar­by­en, but the floa­ting fuel sta­ti­ons came to them, at sea – in shape of bun­ker ves­sels on the Barents Sea, both on the Nor­we­gi­an and on the Rus­si­an side of the mari­ti­me bor­der, accor­ding to AIS data of Nor­we­gi­an bun­ker ships.

This attrac­ted a lot of public atten­ti­on when it beca­me public in Novem­ber, with a wide agree­ment that this prac­ti­ce is unwan­ted seen in the light of the Rus­si­an war against the Ukrai­ne. Major sup­pli­ers on the Nor­we­gi­an mar­ket quick­ly distanced them­sel­ves from this trade and con­firm­ed not to deli­ver to Rus­si­an cus­to­mers, but could not gua­ran­tee this for smal­ler in-bet­ween dis­tri­bu­tors.

Russian ships, Bellsund

Fishing ships pre­fer to get sup­pli­es near the fishing grounds, rather than sai­ling to a distant ports. This image shows two Rus­si­an ships exchan­ging fish and goods in Bell­sund.

In ear­ly Decem­ber, the Nor­we­gi­an minis­try of for­eign affairs con­firm­ed that it is for­bidden for Nor­we­gi­an ships to sup­p­ly Rus­si­an ships at sea with fuel, as Sval­bard­pos­ten wro­te. This includes inter­na­tio­nal and Rus­si­an waters. To ful­fill old con­tracts, deli­veries were under cer­tain con­di­ti­ons legal until ear­ly March 2023 but not any­mo­re later. Sin­ce then, Rus­si­an ships can only buy Nor­we­gi­an fuel for their own use in cer­tain Nor­we­gi­an ports (Lon­gye­ar­by­en, Båts­fjord, Kir­kenes and Trom­sø). This is hard­ly attrac­ti­ve for most fishing ships as they don’t want to lea­ve their ope­ra­ting are­as.

Any deli­very at sea by Nor­we­gi­an ships to Rus­si­an cus­to­mers is, in other words, ille­gal sin­ce March. Sup­pli­ers who nevert­hel­ess deli­ver­ed die­sel bet­ween March and Novem­ber appear to have been una­wa­re or con­fu­sed about the legal situa­ti­on.

Ant­ark­ti­kos: excel­lent rea­ding mate­ri­als about the other end of the world

This does not have any­thing to do with Spits­ber­gen, but for all enthu­si­asts of the polar regi­ons – north and south – Ant­ark­ti­kos is som real­ly good food for brain, eye and soul.

Ant­ark­ti­kos is a maga­zi­ne that has set a high stan­dards with regards to both con­tents and lay­out with the first edi­ti­on two years ago. It is not ano­ther one of the usu­al glos­sy maga­zi­nes that come every month or so with the usu­al tra­vel sto­ries and packed witih adver­ti­sing – no, it is actual­ly quite the con­tra­ry: full of inte­res­t­ing con­tri­bu­ti­on cove­ring a wide ran­ge of sub­jects from sci­ence to art and a lot of other stuff on eit­her side of the­se, with a lay­out that makes it a plea­su­re to read. And inde­ed no adver­ti­sing. That does set a high level, inde­ed.

Antarktikos, Antarctic magazine

The first edi­ti­on of “Ant­ark­ti­kos”
(and this aut­hor, spon­ta­neous­ly and bad­ly pho­to­gra­phed by hims­elf …).

The second edi­ti­on is about to be released now in Decem­ber. And to make ends meet, the­re is a crowd­fun­ding cam­pa­gin going until tomor­row (Satur­day, 2 Decem­ber) on Kick­star­ter – a few Euro are still miss­ing, come on, let’s get that done! Ever­y­thing is pos­si­ble, from sim­ply orde­ring the second edi­ti­on for a too cheap pri­ce of 15 Euro to sub­stan­ti­al sup­port.

I am in, with plea­su­re.

Mobi­le net­work in Ny-Åle­sund

If you have visi­ted Ny-Åle­sund in recent years, then you have expe­ri­en­ced some­thing of a tech­ni­cal-cul­tu­ral para­dox: a sett­le­ment that, in many ways, is very modern and tech­ni­cal­ly advan­ced, but you couldn’t use your mobi­le pho­ne becau­se the­re was no mobi­le net­work.

Was. That is a mat­ter of the past now.

Ny-Ålesund Mast, mobile network

Ny-Åle­sund: a mast, but no anten­na.
Things have chan­ged. Now you can use your mobi­le pho­ne the­re as else­whe­re.

It has always been said that the elec­tro­ma­gne­tic field that comes with mobi­le net­work dis­turbs cer­tain high­ly sen­si­ti­ve sci­en­ti­fic tech­no­lo­gy. But that does actual­ly not app­ly for the fre­quen­ci­es of mobi­le net­work. It is inde­ed the case, howe­ver, for other fre­quen­ci­es, inclu­ding tho­se in the ran­ge of wifi/WLAN and Blue­tooth. The­se remain for­bidden in Ny-Åle­sund.

Cul­tu­ral­ly, this is a major step for the small sett­le­ment which has been mobi­le-pho­ne-free until the ear­ly win­ter of 2023. It is con­side­red to keep social places such as the mess­room mobi­le pho­ne free.

But for ever­y­day life, it is safe to assu­me that most peo­p­le will wel­co­me it, both tho­se who live and work the­re as well as tou­rists. Also sci­en­ti­fic work will bene­fit from easier com­mu­ni­ca­ti­ons, for exam­p­le as some mea­su­ring devices can now send their data rather than che­cking them regu­lar­ly in the field. Field safe­ty will obvious­ly also bene­fit.

And as men­tio­ned abo­ve: Wifi/WLAN and blue­toth will remain for­bidden.

Pep­per spray for defence against polar bears?

This is about an issue which is about life and limb poten­ti­al­ly of polar bears and humans, so let’s make a few things clear befo­re we get into it: pep­per­spray (or bear spray) is curr­ent­ly not recom­men­ded by Nor­we­gi­an aut­ho­ri­ties as a tool of deter­rence or defence against polar bears and it is curr­ent­ly not legal­ly available in Nor­way inclu­ding Sval­bard for pri­va­te per­sons.

And: this is not a dis­cus­sion about using pep­per­spray against aggres­si­ve polar bears in open ter­rain. Attemp­ting this would lite­ral­ly be sui­ci­dal.

Having said that: the­re is an ongo­ing dis­cus­sion about the use of pep­per­spray in Spits­ber­gen, even though it is, so far, an enti­re­ly theo­re­ti­cal one and aut­ho­ri­ties do not appear to be very enthu­si­a­stic about it. But cases like the one in August whe­re a polar bear was shot in Kross­fjord as he attempt­ed to break into a hut with peo­p­le insi­de cer­tain­ly con­tri­bu­te to the dis­cus­sion.

polar bear, hut

“Hel­lo, anyo­ne at home?” Pep­per­spray may well save the life of a polar bear in a situa­ti­on like this. Here, ever­y­thing went well in the end.

And it is actual­ly exclu­si­ve­ly about cases whe­re peo­p­le can act from the rela­ti­ve safe­ty of a hut (or a clo­sed vehic­le etc.). The polar bear in August was not the first one that was shot while brea­king into a hut by peo­p­le insi­de.

So what it is about now? Fred Skan­cke Han­sen is safe­ty offi­cer at UNIS and respon­si­ble for field safe­ty cour­ses and safe­ty during field work of stu­dents and sci­en­tists. As such, he has gathe­red rele­vant expe­ri­ence and know­ledge over years. Han­sen told Sval­bard­pos­ten that he is open for the dis­cus­sion about pep­per­spray and posi­ti­ve about its use in cer­tain situa­tions. It talks about an “addi­tio­nal tool” in the tool­box that may pre­vent lethal shoo­ting in situa­tions whe­re peo­p­le would have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to use pep­per­spray out of a situa­ti­on of rela­ti­ve safe­ty. Also Han­sen points out that the idea is not to be in the field with pep­per­spray as the only tool of self defence against polar bears.

The point of pep­per­spray is that it may safe a polar bear from being shot and at the same time the bear would most likely take with him that the vici­ni­ty of huts and peo­p­le is some­thing to avo­id in the future. And this would be the best pos­si­ble out­co­me of such a situa­ti­on.

The reason for Hansen’s recent state­ment is a paper published in Decem­ber 2022 in Wild­life Socie­ty Bul­le­tin, which adds fac­tu­al weight to the argu­men­ta­ti­on that pep­per spray is effec­ti­ve against polar bears.

A speaks­per­son of the Sys­sel­mes­ter said that pep­per­spray is not legal­ly available in Spits­ber­gen. It would requi­re a chan­ge on a legal (govern­ment & par­lia­ment) level to chan­ge this. Until this pos­si­bly hap­pens, the dis­cus­sion will remain a purely theo­re­ti­cal one, at least for Sval­bard.

Coles­buk­ta and Gru­mant back in use again? And: sci­ence cent­re plan­ned in Pyra­mi­den

The Rus­si­an pre­sence in Sval­bard was alre­a­dy sub­ject of the last artic­le on this page, but the­re is more to it.

Accor­ding to Sval­bard­pos­ten the­re are Rus­si­an plans to refur­bish and use seve­ral old buil­dings in Gru­mant and Coles­buk­ta. In con­trast to other con­s­truc­tion pro­jects, the Sys­sel­mes­ter recei­ved an appli­ca­ti­on for the pro­ject befo­re work star­ted on site. Befo­re appr­oval might be given, aut­ho­ri­ties need, howe­ver, more infor­ma­ti­on – a usu­al pro­ce­du­re in such cases.

The idea seems to be that the Rus­si­an want to be able to offer pro­per accom­mo­da­ti­on to their peo­p­le when they stay in Coles­buk­ta and Gru­mant for work.

Gru­mant (often cal­led Gru­mant­by­en) and Coles­buk­ta tog­e­ther used to be a Rus­si­an coal mining sett­le­ment which was, howe­ver, aban­do­ned in 1961. All buil­dings are accor­din­gly in an advan­ced sta­te of decay. Put­ting any buil­dings the­re back into use wit­hout com­ple­te­ly remo­ving them and buil­ding new ones seems to be quite ambi­tious.

Grumantbyen, building

Buil­ding in Gru­mant­by­en. It may need more than a bucket of paint.

It has been known for a while that the Rus­si­ans have plans to increase their sci­en­ti­fic acti­vi­ties. So far, they have been run­ning a sci­ence cent­re in Barents­burg (south of the hotel). Now the Barents­ob­ser­ver wro­te that the Rus­si­ans plan a major sci­ence cent­re in Pyra­mi­den, which is to invol­ve part­ners from „fri­end­ly count­ries“ such as Chi­na, Bra­zil, India, Tur­key and Thai­land.

Both Chi­na and India alre­a­dy run a pre­sence each in Ny-Åle­sund. Accor­ding to Nor­we­gi­an experts, it is not cer­tain that the­se count­ries are real­ly inte­res­ted in even fur­ther cos­t­ly sci­en­ti­fic pre­sence at ano­ther place in Spits­ber­gen. It also remains to be seen of Bra­zil, Tur­key, Thai­land or other count­ries are inte­res­ted in such a pre­sence on a long-term basis at all. But it is inte­res­t­ing to noti­ce that Pyra­mi­den is back in the focus for such plans. Also the Rus­si­ans are con­side­ring new acti­vi­ties bey­ond coal which is obvious­ly not a future-ori­en­ta­ted pro­ject and tou­rism which for obvious reasons is not doing well in the Rus­si­an sett­le­ments.


Pyra­mi­den: may beco­me an inter­na­tio­nal sci­ence cent­re, accor­ding to Rus­si­an plans.

Local Rus­si­an-Nor­we­gi­an rela­ti­onships more dif­fi­cult now

Rela­ti­onships bet­ween Rus­sia and many other count­ries are obvious­ly dif­fi­cult, to put it mild­ly. It is true to say that this includes Nor­way on various levels from Oslo to Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

But the­re is still cont­act and at least some coope­ra­ti­on. Recent­ly in Octo­ber, the Joint Nor­we­gi­an-Rus­si­an fishe­ries com­mis­si­on has agreed to lower most important fishing quo­tas in the Barents Sea, whe­re both count­ries share lar­ge are­as. The com­mis­si­on exists sin­ce 1975. The agree­ment is not only remar­kab­le in its­elf seen from the per­spec­ti­ve of cur­rent glo­bal poli­tics, but also the results are wort­hwhile having a look at: the voice of the sci­en­tists was lar­ge­ly heard. Cod quo­tas were lowe­red by 20 % for the third time in a row. In 2024, the total cod quo­ta will be 453,427 tons (Nor­we­gi­an share: 212,124 tons). The hali­but quo­te was also lowe­red, while the cape­lin quo­te was stron­gly increased.

As could be expec­ted, Rus­sia was quick to threa­ten with a uni­la­te­ral can­cel­la­ti­on of the agree­ment if Nor­way took any steps con­side­red unde­si­ra­ble from a Rus­si­an per­spec­ti­ve. Sin­ce the lar­ge Rus­si­an inva­si­on in the Ukrai­ne star­ted in Febru­ary 2022, Rus­si­an ships are only allo­wed into three Nor­we­gi­an ports (Trom­sø, Båts­fjord and Kir­kenes). But experts con­sider the risk that Rus­sia will actual­ly retre­at from the agree­ment and even the com­mis­si­on as such rather low. Most of the bet­ter fishing grounds are within Nor­we­gi­an waters and access of Rus­si­an fishing ves­sels to the­se waters is based on the agree­ment.

Russian fishing ship, Bellsund

Rus­si­an fishing ship in Bell­sund.

But else­whe­re, things are more dif­fi­cult. In Barents­burg and Pyra­mi­den, Rus­si­an pro­pa­gan­da has beco­me much more visi­ble in 2023 than it used to be in the post, for exam­p­le during the cele­bra­ti­ons for vic­to­ry day and the day of the navy.

Curr­ent­ly, Nor­we­gi­an-Rus­si­an local rela­ti­onships have to deal with Rus­si­an con­s­truc­tion pro­jects that are sub­ject to Nor­we­gi­an appr­oval. But rather than play­ing accor­ding to the rules, the Rus­si­an have obvious­ly cho­sen to make a state­ment. Super­fi­ci­al­ly, it is at least in part about tri­via, such as illu­mi­na­ted adver­ti­sing on the „Russ­kiy dom“, the house of the Rus­si­an tou­rism depart­ment in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. It is also about the huge woo­den Rus­si­an-ortho­dox cross that was put up last sum­mer in the vici­ni­ty of the har­bour in Pyra­mi­den. Nor­we­gi­an experts war­ned that here Rus­sia wan­ted to make a sym­bo­li­cal­ly char­ged state­ment that includes the demons­tra­ti­on of a his­to­ri­cal­ly long con­nec­tion to the fat­her­land, with important cul­tu­ral and reli­gious aspects – a prac­ti­ce that is a pain­ful remin­der of pre­pa­ra­ti­ons for Rus­si­an aggres­si­on else­whe­re in rather recent times. And in any case, erec­ting a cross out­side is not legal wit­hout per­mis­si­on by rele­vant aut­ho­ri­ties.

Sym­bo­li­cal­ly not as high­ly char­ged, but nevert­hel­ess an issue for the aut­ho­ri­ties, is the case of mobi­le homes in shape of a pile of con­tai­ners that were set up recent­ly in Pyra­mi­den to house workers. Cle­ar­ly a pro­ject that requi­res aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on given in advan­ce by the Sys­sel­mes­ter (hig­hest local repre­sen­ta­ti­ve of the Nor­we­gi­an govern­ment). Nor­we­gi­an law is valid ever­y­whe­re in Sval­bard, inclu­ding the Rus­si­an sett­le­ments. But in all the­se cases, the Rus­si­ans have obvious­ly deci­ded to make facts and talk later. Nor­we­gi­an aut­ho­ri­ties seem to try to keep the­se issues on a fac­tu­al level, not show­ing any desi­re to move them up to a poli­ti­cal level.


Barents­burg: curr­ent­ly a bit of a dark affair, seen from a Nor­we­gi­an per­spec­ti­ve.

Mean­while, tou­rism lar­ge­ly keeps a distance from the Rus­si­an sett­le­ments: the local inter-trade orga­ni­sa­ti­on Sval­bard Rei­se­livs­råd said in Octo­ber that they recom­mend their mem­bers not to visit Barents­burg or Pyra­mi­den. This is, howe­ver, not bin­ding for the indi­vi­du­al com­pa­nies. Rei­se­livs­råd-chair­man Ron­ny Brun­voll also advi­sed indi­vi­du­als with con­nec­tion to the tou­rist indus­try not to visit the Rus­si­ans pri­va­te­ly. Brun­voll says that the­re is a risk of data theft when using Rus­si­an wifi or mobi­le pho­ne net­work, and pho­tos might be used for pro­pa­gan­da.

It seems that the situa­ti­on is quite bog­ged down and it is hard to ima­gi­ne how rela­ti­onships might beco­me bet­ter again befo­re the war – here, obvious­ly espe­ci­al­ly the Rus­si­an war against the Ukrai­ne – has come to an end.

Dri­ving licen­ses: tem­po­ra­ry appr­oval exten­ded

The “dri­ving licen­se issue” did and does still worry a lot of for­eign (non-Nor­we­gi­an) locals in Lon­gye­ar­by­en who need their dri­ving licen­se for work and pri­va­te life: for for­mal reasons, cer­tain non-Nor­we­gi­an dri­ving licen­ses are not reco­g­nis­ed, inclu­ding (but not limi­t­ed to) Thai and US-ame­ri­can dri­ving licen­ses. Both resi­dents and tou­rists are con­cer­ned. Visi­tors may, for exam­p­le, have a pro­blem if they wish to dri­ve a car or snow mobi­le.

driving license Longyearbyen

Dri­ving a car in Lon­gye­ar­by­en: some may have to take a seat in the back.

Now the Sys­sel­mes­ter has announ­ced to extend a tem­po­ra­ry appr­oval of dri­ving licen­ses in ques­ti­on until March 31, 2024. Mean­while, Nor­we­gi­an aut­ho­ri­ties are try­ing to find a per­ma­nent solu­ti­on.

Nor­we­gi­an sta­te buys housing space in Lon­gye­ar­by­en

The Nor­we­gi­an govern­ment wants more con­trol on the ground in Sval­bard. This has beco­me umist­aka­b­ly clear through a ran­ge of poli­ti­cal pro­jects, inclu­ding the ongo­ing dis­cus­sion about limi­ta­ti­ons of public access to lar­ge parts of Sval­bard and the with­dra­wal of local voting rights for for­eig­ners.

Housing is ano­ther important issue in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. The housing mar­ket is dif­fi­cult, and indi­vi­du­als wit­hout strong eco­no­mics expe­ri­ence serious dif­fi­cul­ties when try­ing to find a place to live. In con­trast to else­whe­re, you can’t just move a cou­ple of miles out of town and com­mu­te by bus. Major employ­ers own living space to make sure their employees can actual­ly live in Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

housebuilding Elvesletta Longyearbyen

House­buil­ding in cen­tral loca­ti­on in Elves­let­ta, Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

Many of Longyearbyen’s lar­ger employ­ers are public, eit­her direct­ly or indi­rect­ly. That includes Sys­sel­mes­ter, the local admi­nis­tra­ti­on (inclu­ding school, kin­der­gar­ten, hos­pi­tal, …), Store Nor­ske (the mining com­pa­ny), UNIS etc. Some of them own housing space, and in other cases flats are owned and admi­nis­te­red by Stats­bygg, a public aut­ho­ri­ty that does exact­ly that: owning, run­ning and deve­lo­ping pro­per­ty on behalf of the govern­ment for public insti­tu­ti­ons and sta­te-owned com­pa­nies.

Stats­bygg does alre­a­dy have a major num­ber of flats in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. This num­ber is now to grow signi­fi­cant­ly: as Sval­bard­pos­ten wro­te, Stats­bygg will invest 173 mil­lio­nen kro­ner (curr­ent­ly slight­ly under 15 mil­li­on Euro) in housing spaces. The who­le block of Elves­let­ta 2 and 3, which is curr­ent­ly under con­s­truc­tion, is con­cer­ned, with a total of 27 flats.

In return, Stats­bygg will release an equi­va­lent num­ber of flats that are owned by Store Nor­ske. In con­trast to Stats­bygg, Store Nor­ske can offer them to ever­y­bo­dy on the housing mar­ket, inclu­ding pri­va­te indi­vi­du­als. But also Store Nor­ske is owned by the govern­ment, which can thus con­trol who can live in Lon­gye­ar­by­en and who can not live the­re.

Visi­tors to Lon­gye­ar­by­en will quick­ly get the impres­si­on that the place is gro­wing mad­ly by means of the lar­ge con­s­truc­tion sites. But this impres­si­on is mis­lea­ding, becau­se a lar­ge num­ber of flats were also lost during and after the cata­stro­phic ava­lan­che of 2015. This loss of living space is obvious­ly less appa­rent.

The new dou­ble calen­dar “Spits­ber­gen & Nor­way 2024” is available

The new dou­ble calen­dar “Spits­ber­gen & Nor­way 2024” is available! 24 pages for the new year, a dou­ble calen­dar – pho­to­gra­phic beau­ty of nor­t­hern land­scapes, wild­life and flowers on the wall, chan­ging every months (twice if you want) throug­hout the year 😃

“Dou­ble calen­dar” means that both sides of each page are used. You can turn the calen­dar around to the other image. The calen­dar is available in two sizes, lar­ge (A3) and small (A5). And if you order more than one per size, then the pri­ce will drop by 3 Euro per copy 🤩 Christ­mas is not far any­mo­re – the ide­al pre­sent for all arc­tic enthu­si­asts! 🎄🎅🎁 as long as stocks last!

Click here for more infor­ma­ti­on inclu­ding views of all pages and orde­ring.

Out­break of avi­an flu on Hopen

The­re was a major out­break of avi­an flu, also known as bird flu, on the remo­te island Hopen in sou­the­ast Sval­bard, as Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te Hall­vard Strøm told the Nor­we­gi­an media plat­form NRK. Seve­ral thousand birds are belie­ved to have died on Hopen from avi­an flu, main­ly kit­ti­wa­kes.


Cliffs with major bird colo­nies on Hopen.

The­re have been simi­lar, even lar­ger out­breaks of avi­an flue in sea­bird colo­nies in north Nor­way. In some cases, the los­ses were dra­ma­tic and major frac­tions of the colo­nies were wiped out. In Spits­ber­gen, avi­an flu was found for the first time in 2002, but the recent out­break on Hopen is the lar­gest one so far.

Local elec­tions: the result

All votes from Monday’s local elec­tions are coun­ted and the result is offi­ci­al. The com­mu­ni­ty coun­cil (Lokals­ty­re), estab­lished in 2002, has 15 seats, and accor­ding to the offi­ci­al result, the par­ty “Venst­re” will have 7 of them. Hence, Venst­re will most likely lead the new Lokals­ty­re and appoint the mayor. Venst­re (“Left”) is a social libe­ral par­ty.

Longyearbyen Lokalstyre, elections 2023

Lon­gye­ar­by­en Lokals­ty­re: the new com­mu­ni­ty coun­cil was elec­ted on Mon­day
– for the first time, under exclu­si­on of non-Nor­we­gi­an locals.

As a result, for the first time in the histo­ry of Lokals­ty­re, the social demo­cra­tic Arbei­der­par­ti (Labour par­ty) will not appoint the mayor any­mo­re. Arbei­der­par­tiet will have 3 seats in the new com­mu­ni­ty coun­cil. The left-social-demo­cra­tic Sosia­lis­tisk Venst­re­par­ti will also have 3 seats, while the con­ser­va­ti­ve Høy­re (“Right”) will have 2.

1420 per­sons were eli­gi­ble to vote, and 808 made of of this right, resul­ting in a voter turn­out of 56.9 %. During the pre­vious elec­tions, the­re were 1823 eli­gi­ble voters, but seve­ral hundred locals with pass­ports other than Nor­we­gi­an have lost their voting rights due to the new regu­la­ti­ons. Some Nor­we­gi­an voters had announ­ced to not vote or to sub­mit inva­lid bal­lot papers, of which the­re were 54.

Citi­zens wit­hout voting rights: press release of the “unwan­ted for­eig­ners”

Zur heu­ti­gen Kom­mu­nal­wahl in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, bei der etwa ein Drit­tel der frü­her Stimm­be­rech­tig­ten ihr Stimm­recht auf­grund der Natio­na­li­tät ver­lo­ren hat, gab die Grup­pe “unwan­ted for­eig­ners” fol­gen­de Pres­se­mel­dung her­aus (deut­sche Über­set­zung vom Inha­ber die­ser Sei­te). Sie bezieht sich auf eine Aus­stel­lung in der unmit­tel­ba­ren Umge­bung des Wahl­lo­kals, bei der die nicht mehr demo­kra­tisch reprä­sen­tier­ten Bür­ge­rin­nen und Bür­ger Lon­gye­ar­by­ens ihren Fuß­ab­druck in der Gesell­schaft sym­bo­lisch sicht­bar machen wol­len.

Today, Lon­gye­ar­by­en votes a new local coun­cil, but about one third of the for­mer voters have lost their voting rights becau­se they are for­eig­ners. The group “unwan­ted for­eig­ners” have issued the fol­lo­wing text as a press release (Eng­lish trans­la­ti­on from Nor­we­gi­an by the owner of this web­site).

Press release: Longyearbyen’s “unwan­ted for­eig­ners”

Local elec­tions in Lon­gye­ar­by­en today – a pain­ful day for non-Nor­we­gi­an citi­zens. They have lost their voting rights.
During ear­lier local elec­tions, non-Nor­we­gi­an citi­zens could vote as soon as they had lived in Lon­gye­ar­by­en for at least three years – just as in main­land Nor­way.

Longyearbyen Lokalstyre, community council elections 2023

Exhi­bi­ti­on of sym­bo­lic foot­prints of citi­zens who lost their voting rights in Lon­gye­ar­by­en.
Pho­to: Chris­tia­ne Hüb­ner. Click here for a high-reso­lu­ti­on ver­si­on of this image.

With the new regu­la­ti­ons, most of them have lost their demo­cra­tic rights.

Today, local elec­tions are being held in Lon­gye­ar­by­en – many locals who have lived in Lon­gye­ar­by­en and con­tri­bu­ted to the com­mu­ni­ty and eco­no­my for years are now excluded. They are repre­sen­ted in silence, as appro­pria­te for tho­se who have lost their voice
Here are some of their foot­prints in the com­mu­ni­ty of Lon­gye­ar­by­en:

Longyearbyen Lokalstyre, community council elections 2023

Sym­bo­lic foot­prints of for­eig­ners who have lost their voting rights Lon­gye­ar­by­en.
Pho­to: Chris­tia­ne Hüb­ner. Click here for a high-reso­lu­ti­on ver­si­on of this image.

  • I have been making your food sin­ce 2017
  • 9 years on the island. Have a Nor­we­gi­an com­pa­ny with 5 employees
  • Local for 15 years – I have voting rights in Trond­heim but no lon­ger here!
  • 19 years on Sval­bards. Will res­cue you from a snow ava­lan­che
  • 21 years in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Elec­ted mem­ber of the local coun­cil
  • Owner of a com­pa­ny and mem­ber of the gui­de asso­cia­ti­on
  • 3 years in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Scan­di­na­vi­an citi­zen. :o(
  • 4 years in Lon­gye­ar­by­en – local gui­de
  • Will res­cue you from a crev­as­se
  • Have never befo­re felt that it was „you“ and „us“ befo­re
  • 8 years on the island. Will repair your clo­thes. Own a Nor­we­gi­an com­pa­ny with 3 employees
  • We are Lon­gye­ar­by­en
  • I will make sure that you have a good din­ner after your mara­thon
  • Grew up in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Have lear­nt Nor­we­gi­an values at school
  • Stood for the elec­tions last time. 16 years Sval­bard. Oslo thinks that I know less about Sval­bards poli­tics than a fresh gra­dua­te of Sval­bard fol­kehøgs­ko­le
  • Sámi, women, for­eig­ners – we have been through all of that. Voting rights for ever­y­bo­dy!
  • 20 years in Lon­gye­ar­by­en – work­ed for UNIS, NP, sci­ence coun­cil
  • 3 years on the island with my fami­ly – working in cus­to­mer ser­vice and vol­un­t­a­ri­ly
  • 20 years on Sval­bard. 20 years in local com­pa­nies. Love Lon­gye­ar­by­en and the peo­p­le who live here. Voting rights for ever­y­bo­dy
  • Grew up in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Went to Nor­we­gi­an school in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Speak Nor­we­gi­an well. But not a part of this com­mu­ni­ty
  • 12 years for no say
  • Nor­we­gi­an guy – 9 years in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. No point in voting any­mo­re
  • 7 years on the island. Run a recy­cling work­shop as a vol­un­teer, lead Sval­bard Gui­de Asso­cia­ti­on & work as a gui­de year round. Work­ed for UNIS
  • Vol­un­teer sin­ce 2017. Clea­ned Sval­bard from pla­s­tic, Red Cross, Sval­bard sports club
  • 5,5 years on the island. Con­tri­bu­ted to the local com­mu­ni­ty, now con­side­red wort­hl­ess
  • 12 years on the island – washing your house
  • 7 years on Sval­bard – Sval­bard – gui­de + local busi­ness owner – working with 15 local com­pa­nies + others on main­land. Con­tri­bu­ting direct­ly into the Nor­we­gi­an eco­no­my… but we still don’t real­ly count?
  • 7 years on Sval­bard – gui­de + logi­stics mana­ger Polar X – pre­vious­ly voted! We make the docu­men­ta­ries that influence the world’s view of Sval­bard + our wild­life … but we’re not important enough to influence our local poli­tics
  • Who else is gon­na have the pati­ence to ser­ve Nor­we­gi­ans their drinks…
  • Lon­gye­ar­by­en is my home
  • 10 years on Sval­bard – Only here doing cri­ti­cal work for the sta­te! I have fri­ends who died! for the right to vote. Nor­way is no bet­ter than Rus­sia
  • 8 years on Sval­bard. 2.5 years on main­land. PROUD CANA­DI­AN. Essen­ti­al worker 4 Nor­way. Your ‘demo­cra­cy’ is a joke… our lives are not. Shame on you
  • 29 years on Sval­bard. I felt wel­co­me when I came here then
  • 11 years of sci­ence and tea­ching arc­tic eco­lo­gy
  • Demo­cra­cy is a thing to stand for
  • It meant some­thing to con­tri­bu­te to the reno­va­ti­on of Nor­dens­ki­oldhyt­ta during the pan­de­mic
  • Mine worker
  • Sval­bard: cor­ner­stone of my life in 26 years. And now sud­den­ly second class citi­zen
  • 1 year on the island. UNIS stu­dent and mem­ber of the gui­de asso­cia­ti­on
  • 6 years on the island. Can res­cue you from a snow ava­lan­che
  • It gives me plea­su­re to con­tri­bu­te to the deve­lo­p­ment of Lon­gye­ar­by­en after the coal age
  • 12 years on the island and could vote pre­vious­ly. In 17 years, my son can vote, hop­eful­ly tog­e­ther with me
  • Proud­ness is best in com­mu­ni­ty, not natio­na­li­ty

Chris­tia­ne Hüb­ner and Wolf­gang Hüb­ner-Zach also lost their voting rights and initia­ted the exhi­bi­ti­on. The quo­ta­ti­ons are from locals who are now left wit­hout voting rights.

Local elec­tions in Lon­gye­ar­by­en

Today (Mon­day, 09 Octo­ber) local elec­tions are held in Lon­gye­ar­by­en: for the 8th time sin­ce local demo­cra­cy was estab­lished in Lon­gye­ar­by­en in 2002, eli­gi­ble voters can deci­de on Longyearbyen’s poli­ti­cal deve­lo­p­ment.

Longyearbyen Lokalstyre, local elections 2023

Lon­gye­ar­by­en Lokals­ty­re: local elec­tions are held today, 09 Octo­ber – for the first time exclu­ding for­eign locals.

For a start, the local elec­tions are about local poli­tics as usu­al: traf­fic within and out­side of Lon­gye­ar­by­en, health inclu­ding ani­mal health, the housing mar­ket, port deve­lo­p­ment, eco­no­my, cul­tu­re, school, ener­gy, envi­ron­ment. Such things.

But next to all of that, the elec­tions them­sel­ves have beco­me an issue. As repor­ted pre­vious­ly, Nor­we­gi­an minis­ter of jus­ti­ce Emi­lie Mehl (Sen­ter­par­ti) has by decree dis­pos­s­es­sed for­eig­ners of their acti­ve and pas­si­ve voting rights: locals with non-Nor­we­gi­an pass­ports can only vote or run for office if they have spent at least three years in a com­mu­ni­ty on the Nor­we­gi­an main­land and if they have moved direct­ly from the­re to Lon­gye­ar­by­en. The­re are tho­se who have lived in main­land Nor­way for more than three years and now live in Lon­gye­ar­by­en but who have lost the­re voting rights becau­se they have lived else­whe­re bet­ween main­land Nor­way and Lon­gye­ar­by­en. “Else­whe­re” may even be Ny-Åle­sund, a place whe­re the Nor­we­gi­an flagg is flown with pri­de. The­re is at least one such case.

The new voting sys­tem did come by decree and not by low, which means that it has not been dis­cus­sed by the Nor­we­gi­an par­lia­ment (Stort­ing).

All four par­ties that now con­test in Lon­gye­ar­by­en want this to be dis­cus­sed again on a natio­nal level, and at least two out of the­se four want the decree to be rol­led back. But it is the govern­ment in Oslo who deci­des on this. The fifth local­ly acti­ve par­ty, the Nor­we­gi­an green par­ty (Mil­jø­par­ti de Grøn­ne, MdG) with­drew from the cur­rent elec­tions becau­se they do not have enough con­di­da­tes wit­hout their non-Nor­we­gi­an mem­bers.

Con­cer­ned for­eig­ners have joint forces at least loo­se­ly under the group name “unwan­ted for­eig­ners”, try­ing to get seen and heard on a poli­ti­cal level. The­re are seve­ral hundred of them, some­thing near one third of tho­se who were eli­gi­ble to vote on pre­vious occa­si­ons. Many of them have been living in Lon­gye­ar­by­en for many years, some grew up the­re and some have child­ren who visit kin­der­gar­ten and school the­re now. Pret­ty much all of them feel like second-class citi­zens now.


News-Listing live generated at 2024/May/29 at 06:14:33 Uhr (GMT+1)