Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of April 28, 2015


Expert: First magpie spotted in Svalbard is the ‘bomb’
The first-ever sighting of a magpie in Svalbard, photographed last week on Bjørnøya, is the 213th bird species registered in the archipelago, according to the Norwegian Nature Inspectorate. “That’s what ornithologists call a bomb,” said Georg Bangjord, an ornithologist and senior adviser for the agency. “It is unclear how it has brought itself there. Magpies don’t have the flying characteristics to survive such a trip physically. So I think there must have been very special conditions for it to have a clear passage across the ocean on its own wings. Another possibility is that the magpie was pulled out of the sea and simply been a stowaway on a boat.”

Longyearbyen’s population up, but fewer from Norway  
Longyearbyen’s population of 2,127 as of the end of 2014 is 161 more than at the end of 2006, but the number of Norwegians declined by 130 during that time. Kjerstin Askholt, director general of Norway’s Ministry of Justice and Public Security’s Polar Affairs Department, said she has long been aware of the trend and the issue is being addressed in a revised “white paper” outlining policy goals for Svalbard. But while maintaining a strong Norwegian presence in the archipelago is an important strategic goal, she and other officials declined to characterize the trend as negative since the Svalbard Treaty allows all signature nations to have equal access. Longyearbyen Mayor Christin Kristoffersen said projects such as a new long-term industry strategic plan and the proposal for expanding Longyearbyen’s port are being done with an eye on developing a future community with a Norwegian foundation.

Man falls off trawler, found dead in water east of Hopen
A man who fell off a Lithuanian trawler Sunday morning east of Hopen was dead when his shipmates found him, according to The Governor of Svalbard. The Plutonas requested assistance for a search after discovering the man was missing at about 8 a.m., but notified the governor shortly after he’d been located.