Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of July 12, 2016

minetourism

Private companies question Store Norske’s tourism plans
Store Norske’s plans to develop Svea as a tourist destination in cooperation with Spitsbergen Travel are raising concerns among other local tourism companies and officials, who say the government-owned company should not be allowed to offer subsidized activities that compete with private companies. The private operators, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, said part of the concern is a passage in the government’s new “white paper” for Svalbard that states “facilitating business and especially the tourism industry, stands out as one of several measures that can contribute to the achievement of objectives. At the same time, the state should not be a tourism operator.” Visit Svalbard Director Ronny Brunvoll said there should be equal access to Svea, where it is hoped tourism and other activities such as Arctic infrastructure research can replace some of the jobs lost with the suspension of coal mining this year.

Food agency wary about livestock in new greenhouse
An attempt to populate Longyearbyen’s first outdoor greenhouse with pigs, chickens and quails is in hold as the application to do is still being considered by the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, which notes extremely strict restrictions exist on importing animals to the archipelago. Benjamin Vidmar is seeking the permit for the greenhouse that opened this month. Hilde Haug, head of the food safety agency, said exceptions have been made to Svalbard’s ban on importing live animals, but “in practice, only dogs that are granted an exemption in recent times, and these are subject to stringent requirements for vaccination and parasite treatment.” Cows, pigs, horses and chickens did exist in the Russian settlements during their peak coal mining days, but their numbers have been greatly reduced since stricter regulations were introduced in 1988. There are now only pigs in Barentsburg and they will most likely be gone soon as well. She said it’s a plus Longyearbyen now has a full-time veterinarian’s office, “but that does not change the need to think about prevention in relation to infectious diseases, and we will continue to have restrictive exemptions.”