FISH PROCESSING PLANS ON HOLD: Proposed facility in Barentsburg delayed due to cost concerns; Norwegian scientists studying future potential for industry


Illustration of proposed fish processing plant in Barentsburg by Arctic Resource Norway

Hopes the fish processing industry can replace some of the lost coal mining jobs in Svalbard are on hold as a Russian company who has spent nearly a decade trying to establish a processing plant in Barentsburg says the costs are higher than anticipated, according to High North News.

While commercial fishing vessels are plentiful in Svalbard – and the focus of a landmark lawsuit by the European Union alledging Norway is violating the Svalbard Treaty by limiting international access – there is no place in Svalbard for trawlers to take their catch for processing and shipping. Numerous proposals for processing have been floated, especially the past several years as the government ordered the phasing out of coal mining, with Norway’s government easing some (but not all) rules to allow such operations.

The Russia-owned Arctic Resource Norway AS has spent nine years working to established the required framework for a fish and/or crab landing plant in Barentsburg, according to High North News. But it told the news site the project is now on hold.

“The main reason for this is that the expenses for our investigations are higher than originally budgeted,” said Irina Jakobsen, the company’s general manager.

“We were very optimistic at first. We no longer are. We need changes in the current legislation. Perhaps the new government will bring a change,” Jakobsen added.

Similar facilities in Longyearbyen have been discussed by various entities, but no actual proposals have been offered to date.

Meanwhile, The Governor of Svalbard last year approved a project researching potential consequences for fish processing facilities, High North News reported. Among the participants are the The Norwegian Maritime Museum which is looking for traces of cultural heritage under water, the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research investigating conditions in Barentsburg and Multiconsult which is looking into geotechnical conditions.