Tag Archives: The Governor of Svalbard

THE RULES OF ATTRACTION (ARE CHANGING): Norway’s gov’t rewriting Svalbard’s tourism regulations to more clearly define access, guide qualifications, customers’ rights and more

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Photo of police contacting guides in the field courtesy of The Governor of Svalbard

“Getting away from it all” won’t be quite as much that in Svalbard soon as Norway’s government is planning a rewrite of tourism regulations for the archipelago that will likely include tighter control on access, new mandates for qualifying as a guide and changes in the legal rights of travellers that reflect higher standards on the mainland, according to a draft report released last week.

SEAL OF DISAPPROVAL: Person fined 20,000 kr. for illegally shooting seal on ice near Svea; carcass abandoned at harbor

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Photo by Geir Wing Gabrielsen / Norwegian Polar Institute

A person who illegally shot and killed a bearded seal last month on the sea ice near the shut-down Svea coal mine has been fined 20,000 kroner, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

POLAR BEAR GOES SWIMMING NEAR LONGYEARBYEN: Bear goes ashore at Revneset on Saturday night, officials follow it by helicopter without taking action as it moves away from town

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A polar bear came near Longyearbyen on Saturday night, taking a swim before going ashore at the cape across the bay on the west side of town, but officials from the governor’s office who responded by helicopter followed the bear as it moved away from town without need to sedate or take other protective measures.

SVALBARD’S FIRST GENDER-NEUTRAL GOVERNOR: Lars Fause, former second-in-command, returns 10 years later to top spot with first-ever title of Sysselmester instead of Sysselmannen

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New Svalbard Gov. Lars Fause watches sign master André Jenssen replace the administration’s building sign Thursday. Photo courtesy of The Governor of Svalbard.

Since this is an English-language newspaper, here’s the official announcement in Norwegian filtered through Google Translate: “On 1 July 2021, The Governor of Svalbard changes his name to The Governor of Svalbard.”

Yikes – and the “new title is the old title” gibberish isn’t even the worst part…officially. The worst is the reference to “his,” which Norway’s government now considers taboo because…well, sex is bad.

The upshot is Svalbard has a new boss with a new title.

WOW…WALRUSES! BUT, PLEASE, BE WARY: Rare appearance by eight of the gregarious creatures at Hotelnesset draws crowd, but governor says some too close for comfort (and safety)

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Photo by Elizabeth Bourne

Visiting cruise ship passengers are still absent from the harbor area of Longyearbyen this summer, but a different group of visitors Tuesday evening got almost certainly a more cherished welcome from locals as eight walruses made a rare disembarkation onto the shore at the edge of town.

But, as happens with cruise ship passengers, it turns out officials needed to issue a warning about proper interaction between humans and the environment as some of the former got too close to the latter.

JOYLESS JOYRIDE: ATV stolen from Polar X near beach Sunday morning turns up at Svalbardbutikken; police seeking tips

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Legally speaking, a rare vehicle theft in Longyearbyen when a multi-passenger ATV was reported missing early Sunday morning from Polar X at Sjøområdet. But the reason such thefts are rare is because it’s hard to actually steal and possess a vehicle since there’s no roads out of town to flee on, so police are seeking tips about the culprit after the ATV showed up a while later in the Svalbardbutikken parking lot.

THEY’RE COMING FOR YOUR GUNS (IF YOU’RE BORROWING THEM): New law effective June 1 requires people to have a license for specific firearms they borrow from others

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The ease of borrowing a gun from somebody in Svalbard, which basically just means telling the owner you’re fit to do so, will come to an end June 1 when a nationwide law requiring the borrower to have a permit specific to the type of weapons goes into effect.

SVALBARD A HAVEN FOR DOMESTIC ABUSERS? Report says foreign woman have few options due to exemptions from mainland social programs, leaving them in violent relationships

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“Jasmin” is a foreigner who moved with her children from Asia to Longyearbyen several years ago to live with her Norwegian husband – but the relationship turned into one where she alleges she has long been abused by him. But because many of Norway’s social programs and the Immigration Act don’t apply to Svalbard, she’s essentially being told the only effective solution is to return to her homeland.

Her story, first reported Monday by NRK (in English via Google Translate*), is one of multiple instances of women in the archipelago who are in abusive relationships with few means of support or escape, according to the Crisis Center for the Troms region, the closest agency dealing with domestic violence matters to Longyearbyen.

MEET THE NEW MASTER: Lars Fause, lead Troms/Finnmark prosecutor and former Svalbard lieutenant governor, to be new archipelago governor under new Sysselmester title as of July 1

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A decade after departing as Svalbard’s second highest-ranking official, Lars Fause is returning as Svalbard’s new governor – under the new gender-neutral Sysselmester title – as of July 1.

ANOTHER EVACUATION OF NYBYEN (AND THIS ONE MAY BE LENGTHY): Massive buildup of hanging snow means buildings near mountains must be vacated ‘until further notice’

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An evacuation of the mountainside buildings in Nybyen for a third straight weekend – and one whose length will be measured in weeks – has been ordered as of 6 p.m. Friday due to large cornices overhanging the mountains (click link for video) due to heavy snow accumulation in recent weeks, The Governor of Svalbard announced at midday Friday.

The evacuation order, which affects 117 people mostly in student dorms and tourist lodging such as Gjestehuset 102, is until further notice.

“We will make weekly assessments of the situation, and the evacuation and the traffic and residence ban, but we emphasize that it is very uncertain when this can be lifted,” Gov. Kjerstin Askholt said in a prepared statement. “Consideration for life and health always comes first.”

The evacuation also has longer-term implications for the area since for many years it has been classified as a high-risk area and private entities, not the city, are responsible for the safety of the occupants.