Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of Jan. 26, 2016

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Priest voted Svalbard person of the year for historic work
Svalbard Church Leif Magne Helgesen has been selected by Svalbardposten readers as Svalbard’s person of the year for 2015. He has been involved in a number of local and global events of historic significance during the past year, including spending the summer helping to keep Israeli soldiers from demolishing a Palestinian village in the West Bank, leading calls for action by the church and others to combat climate change, and serving as one of the most prominent caregivers and spokespeople for the community following the Dec. 19 avalanche.

Kings Bay fined 100,000 kr. for digging illegal trench
The Governor of Svalbard has fined Kings Bay 100,000 kroner for illegally digging a cable trench of about 200 meters long  at Brandallaguna in Ny-Ålesund. The excavation was part of a fiber-optic cable installation project for The Norwegian Mapping Authority’s geodesy facility in 2014. Brandallaguna is covered by strict environmental restrictions because impact studies of the facility’s construction revealed it is an important area for bird life, according to a press release from the governor’s office. Kings Bay has acknowledged the violation and paid the fine.

13 hoping to live as trappers at remote station for a year
A celebrity, two local residents and a 75-year-old are among the 13 people hoping to live as trappers for a year at the station at Austfjordneset starting this summer. The Governor of Svalbard received applications from five couples and three individuals to live at the historic trapping station, and whomever is selected will need to meet strict requirements. Occupants must have excellent knowledge of nature and wilderness, hunting and trapping experience, preferably polar experience, and meet good health and good conduct requirements. Paul Lutnæs, a senior advisor to the governor, said the screening process should be largely completed this month. The caretaker(s) will also have the option of staying a second year.