April 6, 2019


The sea ice around Svalbard is full of life in early April.


The polar bear mothers come out of their dens with newborn cubs, and the seals give birth to their pups on the ice. It is a crucial time for many Arctic species. Especially for the polar bear mothers, who need to eat themselves fat in order to be able to nurse their small cubs through a long summer and fall without sea ice and food.


One of the most important fjords around Spitsbergen is the Van Mijen fjord. Thanks to being protected by an island blocking its entrance, the warm ocean water doesn’t reach the fjord, and it freezes quite easily. It is perhaps the last fjord in the region with stable ice throughout winter and a crucial area for polar bears and seals. Especially right now, in April.


At the bottom of the fjord is an old Norwegian coal mine, which is in the process of being shut down. They have now run out of fuel in order to keep their operations going to the summer. They have miscalculated their needs. The obvious thing to do would be to halt their work a couple of months until they can get new fuel. But they don’t want to do this, because it would involve financial loss. So the Governor on Svalbard, Sysselmannen, has now given the coal company permission to break the ice of the fjord in order to get a big oil ship in with new fuel. We’re talking almost 30 miles of solid, good ice that they will break up. A part from risking that the entire fjord is emptied of ice, the operation is noisy and extremely disturbing. They plan to do this on Monday April 8. Needless to say this is a disaster for the polar bear mothers, their newborn cubs and seal pups that are now in need of this ice. The only reason they are doing this is to avoid losing money. 


If you feel this is wrong, SEND AN E-MAIL to the Governor on Svalbard, Sysselmannen.


The address is


Tell them that breaking the ice of the Van Mijen fjord is unethical and completely unacceptable. For so many reasons.

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