Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of Feb. 23, 2016

microplastics

Fleece, other synthetics are a major microplastics problem
A large amount of microplastics in local and other Arctic waters appears to be from fleece and other clothing made of synthetic materials, according to two researchers conducting a study in Adventfjorden. “There have been studies conducted about the washing of fleece and it turned out that a single washing of a fleece jacket can release thousands of tiny particles,” said Jan H. Sundet, an oceanographer at the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research. Sundet and Dorte Herzke from the Norwegian Institute for Air Research estimate more than 100 million particles are released into local waters daily. The biggest problem, they note, isn’t the particles themselves, but the fact they tend to absorb toxic materials that affect sea creatures swallowing them.

Greenpeace opposes local fish processing industry
Greenpeace is opposing the establishment of commercial fish processing plants in Svalbard, arguing that while such facilities may initially be seen as an attractive way to replace lost coal mining jobs, there are significant long-term ecosystem risks. “On the American side they won’t harm biodiversity they don’t know anything about and we believe it would have been natural to take the same precaution on the Norwegian side,” said Truls Gulowsen, head of Greenpeace Norge. But he said is is not opposed to the commercial catching of snow crab as they make their way toward Svalbard since they are an alien species that threatens native marine life.

Police investigating signal pistol shot in Barentsburg
A signal pistol was fired apparently by accident Saturday in the cloakroom of the hotel in Barentsburg, according to The Governor of Svalbard. “Some tourists were in the locker room at the hotel in Barentsburg and undressing to undress when the shot went off,” said Police Chief Lt. Trond Olsen. The man with the gun told police it discharged when it fell and hit the floor. Nobody was injured. Police are investigating the determine if charges will be sought.