More concerned with fish health than quotas

Pedersen slices open a frozen haddock to reveal the mass of salmon feed pellets in its stomach. This fish was caught in the vicinity of salmon farms in Vestre Jakobselv, Pedersen said.

The president of Norges Kystfiskarlag, the Coastal Fishermen’s Association, is more concerned with the effects of salmon farming on wild fish populations than he is with the new quota recommendations.

Arne Pedersen is not too concerned about the new quota recommendations for cod and haddock.  It isn’t the quantity of fish that worries him: it’s their health. “This is not natural, this is poison,” Pedersen said, sawing open a frozen haddock to expose the contents of its stomach.

The stomach is filled with a brown, fibrous substance that resembles feed pellets, such as those used in the salmon farms near where Pedersen said he caught the fish.  He produces another frozen haddock, saws it open as well, and the contents of the stomach are the same.

As president of Norges Kystfiskarlag, the Norwegian Coastal Fishermen’s Association, Pedersen represents more than 1,000 fishermen along the coast of Norway from his home in Vestre Jakobselv, in eastern Finnmark.  Part and parcel to protecting the livelihoods of coastal fishermen, he said, is to protect the health of the fisheries they rely on.

But Pedersen said that he has had no response from authorities when he has brought his complaints to bear.  He suspects it has to do with the enormous economic influence of the salmon farming industry in Norway: salmon farming comprises 80 percent of the Norwegian aquaculture industry.  More than 95 percent of Norway’s aquaculture production is exported, destined for more than 130 countries.

“There’s big money in salmon farms, and they do not speak about this conflict with the coastal fishermen in the areas where they farm,” Pedersen said.  “They have a big troop of lobbyists, national and international.”

The controversy surrounding the effects of salmon farming on the environment is not a new one.  A vast amount of research has been conducted on the issue, which in recent years has reached a national scale in countries such as Chile, Canada, and the United States.  In Norway and elsewhere, cited impacts include a decrease in wild salmon populations due to the influence of escaped farmed salmon, and the spread of deadly sea lice (“lakselus”, in Norwegian) and diseases throughout local wild fish populations.

Further down the coast, researchers from the Norwegian Institute of Nature Studies and the Institute for Marine Research found in a 2010 study that wild fish near salmon farms had high concentrations of organohalogenated contaminants (OCs) in their systems –chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) so toxic that their production was banned by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants; and polybrominated diphenyl ethers, a type of flame retardant known as PBDEs.  A total of 45 percent of the fish nearby salmon farms were found to have feed pellets in their stomachs.  The pellets fall through the salmon farm pens and accumulate on the sea floor, and are then consumed by wild fish in the vicinity.  The control fish in the study were found to have no salmon pellets in their system, and up to 50 percent less OCs and PBDEs than the fish nearby salmon farms.

Although salmon farming companies and feed pellet producers tend not to disclose the precise contents of salmon feed pellets, scientists and advocates report that most pellets in the global salmon farming industry contain chemicals such as those indicated in the study, among others.

Pedersen is unaware of any studies that have been conducted within the fjords of Vestre Jakobselv and the surrounding area, but he is eager to see definitive research on what the effects of the chemicals from salmon feed pellets might be on the wild fish.  He said that he has strong suspicions that for wild fish nearby the salmon pens, the chemicals are disrupting their reproduction cycles.

Indeed, the 2010 study recommends further research into this very issue.  But Pedersen is not hopeful this will happen any time soon in his region. “At this moment, the fishermen catching wild fish, we are on the defensive,” he said.  “But in the long term, we have to stay focused on this issue.” (Barents Observer)

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Dmitry Berezhkov freed from jail

Indigenous Peoples activist Dmitry Berezhkov is a free man after a court decision in Northern Norway on says the conditions for extradition to Russia is not present.

Saturday’s court ruling says nearly the opposite of the prosecutor’s claims. “The court says the conditions for extradition to Russian authorities are not present,” says Berezhkov’s lawyer Thomas Hansen to Nordlys.

BarentsObserver has spoken to people near Dmitry Berezhkov after the court ruling that says he is now on his way home to his family after having spent two nights in jail. Berezhkov has been living in Tromsø the last year where he is a student at the regional University.

Yesterday, BarentsObserver quoted sources saying there are clearly political reasons for why Dmitry Berezhkov stays in Norway and can’t return to Russia. The source points to the fact that there over a long period had been a dispute between Russian authorities and RAIPON, where Berezhkov earlier was the Vice-President.

RAIPON is the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, and organization whose new leaders play the melody of Kremlin after an election thriller at their Congress in March.

RAIPON

The newspaper Nordlys on Saturday published an editorial under the headline “Putin’s prisoner” saying this is a case the Norwegian prosecutor should seriously think through.

“To fabricate false charges of crimes against dissidents is just another weapon in the president’s arsenal against opposition and dissents. The prosecutor and the court in Tromsø must bear in mind that this is not in any way any ordinary criminal case,” the Nordlys editorial reads. (Barents Observer)

Indigenous Peoples activist arrested in Norway

Dmitry Berezhkov, former Vice President in RAIPON

Police Prosecutor Thomas Rye-Holmboe confirms to BarentsObserver that “a Russian citizen was arrested in Tromsø on Thursday” …and “the arrest is based on a demanded extradition from Russian police.”

Dmitry Berezhkov is the former Vice President of RAIPON, the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North. Over the last year, Dmitry Berezhkov has been a student at the University of Tromsø.

Troms Police District does not want to give any further comments to BarentsObserver on the details behind the arrest. “Further particulars in the case are something I can’t comment on,” says Thomas Rye-Holmboe.

A trusted source speaking to BarentsObserver who will remain anonymous says there are clearly political reasons for why Dmitry Berezhkov stays in Norway and can’t return to Russia. The source points to the fact that there over a long period had been a dispute between Russian authorities and RAIPON.

Dmitry Berezhkov was arrested just after returning from the preparatory meeting for the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples that took place in Alta, Northern Norway from Monday to Wednesday this week. “The arrest is done in accordance with a Russian, Norwegian juridical agreement,” says Troms Police Prosecutor Thomas Rye-Holmboe.

Aili Keskitalo, Sàmi politican and former President of the Sàmi Parliament in Norway says the arrest of Dmitry is horrifying. “I am horrified over the fact that an Indigenous Peoples activist is arrested in Norway on his way from an Indigenous Peoples conference. This is a signal to us all that we have to be on watch,” says Aili Keskitalo in a phone interview with BarentsObserver Friday afternoon.  Keskitalo says she has little confidence in Russian prosecution authority. “I am sorry to say I am afraid Dmitry will not get a fair trial in Russia.”

“The power struggle between Moscow and RAIPON is a well known fact. The struggle was very visible at the February RAIPON Congress in Salekhard in Siberia,” says Keskitalo.

At the Congress, Indigenous right activist Pavel Sulyandziga had to withdraw his candidature after pressure as Moscow and gas-hungry Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District urged the candidature of State Duma deputy from United Russia Gregory Ledkov.

Public Prosecutor in Troms, Lars Fause, says to Nordlys the petition from Russian Attorney’s Office was sent to Norway in March. “There is nothing that suggests that this is anything other than a normal demanded extradition. It is noted that the indictment is not based on race, religion or political reasons. This standardized information in such requests,” says Lars Fause.

Dmitry Berezhkov will, despite Thursday’s arrest, not be automatically handed over to Russian authorities. “The case will be considered in court. We may also request additional information if we find it necessary. When the case is tried by the court, we weigh whether it should be an extradition. After the case tried in court, there is also a possibility to appeal the verdict, says Lars Fause to Nordlys. (Barents Observer)

Transito segreto al largo della Norvegia di un cargo “nucleare”

La Mikhail Dudin al largo di Murmansk

Il piccolo cargo “Mikhail Dudin” è salpato questa sera per il suo viaggio di ritorno da Murmansk, dopo aver scaricato, nelle precedenti 48 ore, il suo “potenzialmente letale” carico ad Atomflot, la base di servizio dei rompighiaccio a propulsione nucleare situata nella città russa.

Il cargo, battente bandiera maltese, trasportava infatti materiale di scarto nucleare provenienti da una ex base sovietica in Polonia; il tutto come parte di una cooperazione USA-Russia per organizzare trasporti via nave di materiale altamente ricco di uranio, al fine di riportarlo in Russia per evitare che cada nelle mani di organizzazioni terroristiche.

Il cargo ha navigato lungo le coste norvegesi, tuttavia senza mai entrare nelle acque territoriali di questo Stato. Il materiale nucleare, da Atomflot è già in viaggio, attraverso le ferrovie, verso Mayak, negli Urali meridionali, dove verrà riconvertito per gli impianti nucleari: 2000 chilometri attraverso alcune delle zone più densamente popolate della Russia.

Il direttore del Norway’s Radiation Protection Authorities, Ole Harbitz, ha dichiarato di non essere stato a conoscenza del transito del cargo con il suo pericoloso carico. Nel 2009, la stessa organizzazione, apprese del primo trasporto di questo tipo dalla stampa. (Barents Observer)

La Norvegia investe in Russia

Mosca skyline

Il fondo norvegese denominato Government Pension Fund Global ha mostrato molto interessato nell’investire nelle compagnie petrolifere russe, ma anche i fornitori di elettricità e le compagnie di telecomunicazioni sono tra le prime destinazioni dei soldi provenienti dal paese scandinavo. Al 31 dicembre 2012, il valore degli investimenti del fondo in Russia era appena sopra i 25 miliardi di corone (circa 3,3 miliardi di euro).

Gazprom guida la lista, con la Norvegia che controlla lo 0,91% delle azioni, per un valore di 5,7 miliardi di corone (751 milioni di euro). La più grande compagnia petrolifera privata, la Lukoil, è al secondo posto con l’1,78% delle partecipazioni per un valore di 5,5 miliardi di corone (731 milioni di euro). Le altre compagnie petrolifere interessate dal fondo norvegese sono Bashneft, Novatek, Gazprom Neft e Transneft.

La Gazprom Neft opera nell’area di Prirazlomnaya, Mare di Barents orientale, ed è la prima ed è la prima compagnia ad operare off-shore nell’area Artico-Europea: dovrebbe iniziare a distribuire petrolio quest’autunno.

Il fondo possiede anche partecipazioni nelle compagnie minerarie ed industriali con succursali nella Penisola di Kola, come ad esempio la miniera di ferro di Severstal in Olenogorsk e il colosso dei fertilizzanti PhosAgro ad Apatity.

Nel 2009 il fondo norvegese abbandonò la pprtecipazione nella Norisk-Nickel, dopo che la Commissione Etica su fondi di investimento affermò che le industrie della compagnia provocavano danni all’ambiente incompatibili con le linee guida del fondo stesso.

Lo scorso anno il fondo in questione ha aumentato gli investimenti nei mercati cosiddetti emergenti, e per la prima volta ha investito in bond statali in paesi come Taiwan, Russia e Turchia. Il valore complessivo del fondo è di 3.816 miliardi di corone (506 miliardi di euro), cifra che lo rende uno dei fondi di investimento più grandi al mondo. (Barents Observer)