The Arctic This Week: 8 June 2013 – 14 June 2013

The Arctic This Week 2013:22

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As always, all editorial choices, opinions and any mistakes are the authors’ own. To comment, to point out an error or to request a back issue, feel free to contact Tom, Kevin or Maura directly.

Reads of the Week

Short on time this week? Stick to these outstanding pieces we’ve hand-picked for you.

An excellent "foundation essay" from Travis Potts of the Scottish Association for Marine Science does a great job of recapping some of the most significant Arctic-related goings-on in the last month, combining synthesis and analysis in helpful, easily digestible prose (the Conversation). Couple that with an article in Eurasia Review that explores Singapore’s role and interest in the Arctic. If you’ve read enough about China and India’s Arctic ambitions and want something refreshing, give it a look.

Two articles on Alaska energy are also well worth reading this week. In the first, Robert Sheldon provides thoughtful commentary for Alaska Dispatch on “energy-induced poverty.” The high cost of fuel and utilities in Alaska causes economic hardship for the state’s residents, and Sheldon argues for diversifying energy sources as the best strategy for controlling costs and promoting growth. In the second article, Alex DeMarban provides great perspective on the latest push for an LNG export project in Alaska (Alaska Dispatch). As projects race ahead across the globe to supply LNG to the global market, Gov. Sean Parnell is pushing BP, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and TransCanada to finalize an agreement on their proposal to pipe North Slope LNG across the state for export.

Follow those with a sampler platter of excellent articles on several different subjects. A nice piece in Up Here highlights the increasingly influential group of Northern women in leadership positions in Canada, selecting seven women who exemplify the growing trend. Barents Observer meanwhile interviews several young Barents-region entrepreneurs about their reasons for starting a business in the region and the challenges they face; it provides a colorful picture of the region’s possible future.

A really wonderful article from Craig Medred (here via EOTA) will teach you all kinds of things you didn’t know about the history of farming in Alaska – something of a failed government project – as well as its modest present state.

And finally, I hadn’t the least idea that North-Norwegian & Sámi artists have been producing hip hop, but they have. A documentary film & images of the subjects are showing in New York at the NOoSphere gallery on the Lower East Side (

The Political Scene

Patrick Borbey, Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials, and his staff traveled to Tromsø this week (Arctic Council) to visit the Arctic Council’s new permanent secretariat (Alaska Dispatch). After a morning of meetings with Arctic Council staff and folks from the Norwegian Polar Institute and the University of Tromsø, Borbey met with Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Espen Barth Eide, and India’s Minister of External Affairs, Salman Khurshid. Khurshid (seen in this twitpic with Espen Barth Eide) visited Svalbard (where India’s Himadri research station is located), Tromsø (including a visit to the Fram Center) and Oslo during his visit (Gov’t of Norway, in Norwegian). This visit coincides with the Arctic Council’s apparent rising political clout (Marine Link) and its recent admittance of several Asian states as observers (RBTH). Jeffrey Mazo, who visited Norway as part of a High North Study Tour, published a blog post about his trip which is available from the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Indigenous representatives from all over the Arctic met in Áltá, Norway for this week’s Preparatory Conference for the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, hosted by the Sámi Parliament (Deutsche Welle). At the conference (click here for photo), delegates adopted the Áltá Declaration, which contains recommendations for the 2014 conference and critiques of those development models that negatively impact indigenous communities and the environment (NN). After returning from the conference, Russian citizen and former Vice President of RAIPON Dmitry Berezhkov was arrested in Tromsø. His possible extradition, which was requested by the Russian government in March, will be considered in Norwegian court (BO).

Igor Chernyshenko was appointed to Russia’s Federation Council, filling Andrey Guriev’s vacated seat, where he will serve alongside Vladimir Chub as a representative for Murmansk (BO). In a Russian-language press release, Chernyshenko stated that he hopes to secure Murmansk’s participation in Russia’s Arctic projects (BO) and reduce the region’s dependency on heavy oil.

In Canada, Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak received a lot of positive press, both as part of the increasingly influential group of Northern women in leadership positions (Up Here) and for initiating the Collaboration for Poverty Reduction Act, which seeks solutions to poverty in the collaboration of government with businesses, NGOs, individuals and communities (iPolitics). In another nod to the successes of Northern governance, Governor General David Johnston visited Labrador this week, where he praised the work of the Nunatsiavut Assembly since the government’s establishment in 2005 (CBC).

This week, Finnish politicians discussed Finland’s proposed “Arctic Finland” strategy, which will be adopted by the government early next month. According to an English press release issued by the Government of Finland, the new strategy features objectives that are “more comprehensive and concrete” than Finland’s previous strategy, which primarily focused on external relations. International cooperation remains one of the “pillars” of the new strategy (which is prudent, since 1.2 million Russian tourists have crossed the Finnish border already this year, according to Eye on the Arctic), along with establishing Finland as an Arctic country, gaining Arctic expertise, and focusing on sustainable development.

Registration is now open for the Institute of the North’s Week of the Arctic, which will take place August 12-18 in Anchorage, Alaska. The World Arctic Forum, a new international conference organized by the Economic Club of Canada and focusing on the business side of Arctic affairs, will be held in Toronto this November (NN). The new forum, which is unaffiliated with the Arctic Council and the Canadian chairmanship’s emphasis on Arctic business, will focus on sustainable economic development.

Edward Snowden, who recently leaked information concerning the U.S. National Security Association’s online surveillance programs, told the Guardian that Iceland is at the top of his list of countries where he may wish to seek asylum (Huffington Post). Although Iceland has signed an extradition treaty with the U.S., this has never before been used to deport an American national.



Statoil's decision to postpone development of the Barents Sea Johan Castberg field after a recent decision by Oslo to raise oil taxes has left residents of the northern Norwegian town of Honningsvåg guessing as to their economic future. The town was to be the focus of land-based infrastructure to serve the Castberg field and other projects in the Barents, though the town's mayor remains optimistic that the project will go forward eventually ( Hammerfest mayor Alf E. Jakobsen put the best face on the delay, saying it will slow the break-neck pace of development and allow for more planning (AB). Statoil executives were in Honningsvåg last week to reassure the community that they were still bullish on the Barents and dismiss rumors that the Johan Castberg cancellation was just a political ploy to influence the government’s decision regarding oil taxes ( Norwegian journalist Trine Hamran has launched a new website that provides a different perspective on the rush to develop northern Norway, profiling local residents and exploring what the rapid pace of development means for people in the north (

Recent proposed changes to the tariff system for Gassled, the joint venture that manages pipelines that transport much of Norway’s gas, has caused some controversy (Bloomberg). The government has requested a 90% cut in the rates charged to transport gas, which would be a blow to the various entities that hold an interest in Gassled. Kenneth Fossøy and Thor Magnus Rovik, writing for Aftenbladet, ask if this and other recent changes to Norway’s oil and gas taxes and regulations are undermining Norway’s reputation as a safe and stable investment environment (AB).

Minister of Petroleum and Energy Ola Borten Moe announced the release of 24 new exploration licenses, 20 of which are located in the Barents Sea (Upstream, Offshore). Twenty-nine different companies received offers across the 24 new licenses (press release – Norwegian). A map of the licenses and the winning bidders can be found here. Russian companies made their first entry in the Norwegian shelf: Rosneft won portions of one license while Lukoil was included on two. This is a particularly sweet victory for Lukoil as it is locked out of participating in exploration on the Russian shelf due to a Kremlin decision to limit work there to state-owned companies (BO). Russian and Norwegian cooperation in the Barents extended into government as well, as the two countries’ respective oil ministers met twice last week (BO). Maersk Oil won an interest in one of the Barents licenses, and the company is looking forward to applying lessons learned in its operations in West Greenland to work in the Barents Sea (Gcaptain). The oil ministry also put out its annual resource report on oil and gas exploration on the Norwegian Shelf, a copy of which can be found here.

If you can read Norwegian, seismic surveys and geologic maps, you’ll like this PowerPoint presentation from the country’s oil ministry on the progress that’s been made in mapping the geology of the Jan Mayen ridge.

Work is moving ahead on Statoil’s subsea gas compression rig, which the company plans to begin installing this summer at its Åsgard field . Placing the compression rig on the sea floor next to the well head provides more suction pressure, and thus will produce gas more efficiently (TU – Norwegian).

The EU's adoption of common rules governing offshore oil and gas development hasn't been well received in Norway: Minister of Petroleum and Energy Ola Borten Moe says that Norway's regulations are sufficient to guide exploration there (AB).

The Center for Integrated Petroleum Research and Chinese researchers have jointly pioneered the use of injected nanoparticles for removing residual oil from reservoir rocks ( – Norwegian).


Google will be establishing a new data center in northern Finland to take advantage of the cold temperatures and energy from a wind farm just across the border near Pajala, Sweden (BO).


Rosneft and ExxonMobil announced that they will be founding an Arctic Research Center (ARC) in Russia to develop new, Arctic-specific technologies for oil and gas development. The two companies previously announced a partnership to explore licenses in the Kara Sea (RIAN). The ARC is part of a broader technology-sharing agreement between the two companies (Stockhouse). Research and technology deficiencies in Russia's oil and gas sector are behind the efforts of Rosneft and others to form joint ventures over the previous months with European and North American companies to pursue development on the challenging Arctic shelf.

Last week, it looked like the Shtokman gas project was dead after a Gazprom official spoke of leaving the field for "future generations." Not so fast! This week Gazprom announced it would be gathering its board of directors to discuss the way ahead on the development of the massive field in Russia's Barents Sea (ITAR-TASS, - Russian).

China’s Sinopec is in discussions with Novatek concerning taking a stake in the Yamal LNG project, currently being worked by Novatek and Total (Upstream).

Lukoil's Pechora Sea oil terminal at Varandey has fallen on hard times thanks to disappointing production at the company's fields in the Nenets tundra, though the future for the port looks brighter as Lukoil is working to connect other regional fields to its pipeline network (BO).

Russian firm Taas-Yuruakh is back on its feet and will be exporting oil from its East Siberian fields to Asia through the Pacific port at Kozmino (MT).

Greenpeace provides a chilling report from the site of an oil spill in the Khanty-Mansi region of Siberia, describing rusting pipelines, eager security guards and indigenous peoples forced to abandon the land due to environmental damage. The spill is apparently one of the biggest in years and may have led to over 500 tons of oil polluting the nearby Kolva River (BO).


Much like Shtokman, the Central Mackenzie Valley Pipeline project in the Northwest Territories received a new lease on life this week. The prospective project was touted by NWT Premier Bob McLeod as a priority for the Territories, despite the fact that the shale gas boom in the US has upended oil and gas markets since the whole project was originally conceived (Financial Post).

Enbridge Pipelines Inc. is taking a successful program of educational outreach in aboriginal communities that it pioneered in Ontario and expanding it to the NWT (Financial Post). A pipeline spill in NWT that leaked 9.5 million liters of industrial waste water is apparently not a risk to the drinking water of nearby Zama City (CBC).

The Sahtu Water Board in the NWT has given approval for a ConocoPhillips exploration project involving hydraulic fracturing to proceed without a full environmental assessment. Shell abandoned a similar project there last year after the board required a full assessment (CBC). The announcement received mixed reviews from locals: the business community was excited, though many expressed concerns about fracking and the impacts it may have on local water sources (EOTA).

Yukon environmentalists are accusing Northern Cross Ltd. of not consulting with all Yukoners before going ahead with 3D seismic surveys in the Eagle Plains region (CBC).


Robert Sheldon provides thoughtful commentary for Alaska Dispatch on “energy-induced poverty.” The high cost of fuel and utilities in Alaska causes economic hardship for the state’s residents, and Sheldon argues for diversifying energy sources as the best strategy for controlling costs and promoting growth.

The clock is ticking on Alaska LNG. As projects race ahead across the globe to supply LNG to the global market Gov. Sean Parnell is pushing BP, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and TransCanada to finalize an agreement on their proposal to pipe North Slope LNG across the state for export. Alex DeMarban provides great perspective (as always) on the project in this article for Alaska Dispatch.

Time is also running short for the effort to repeal the recent oil tax cut signed by Gov. Parnell. Activists have until July 13 to provide 30,169 signatures from across all regions of the state requesting that the issue be put to a referendum. Organizers of the petition are confident they can make the deadline, and that Alaskans will vote to repeal the law (AD). Gov. Parnell is also taking heat from congressional Democrats who are saying his recent call to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration is inappropriate as, thanks to a 2001 Interior Department ruling, only Congress can authorize such activity (EOTA).

Alyeska Pipeline Services Co. President Thomas Barret addressed the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce last week regarding the challenges the Trans Alaska Pipeline faces from falling production. Because of wax build-up and corrosion, Barret says it is actually more expensive to move the lower quantities of oil in the pipeline at present that it would be if the pipeline was at full capacity (FDNM).


Iceland is having troubles at its new Hellisheiðarvirkjun geothermal plant: electricity production has declined, and experts say it will continue to decline over future years. Politicians are asking if geothermal plants have been built based more on politics than sound science (Iceland Review).

Science, Environment & Wildlife

If you’re interested in a sampling of new Arctic research, check out this week’s haul from the ASTIS database.

Climate/ Ice

Start your science reading with a peek at a site that catalogs many of the different Arctic sea ice graphs that are available online, and then move on to the week’s reporting on the rescue of the Russian scientists who, until this week, had been making their home on Russia’s North Pole-40 research station, floating about the Arctic on an ice floe. Russia’s fierce-looking nuclear icebreaker Yamal rescued the scientists, using a freight helicopter to bring some of the equipment aboard the vessel (VOR). The icebreaker took nearly eight days to get there from its point of departure, and it is now on its way to Murmansk with the refugees (RIAN). The evacuation appears to have cost approximately EUR 1.5 million total, and there is concern that materials remaining on the ice floe after the evacuation will pollute waters in the Canadian North, where the cracking ice floe is currently located. The researchers will be relocated ultimately to another floe which is currently near to Severnaya Zemlya (Arctic Sea Ice Blog & Spiegel Online, in German).

The floe that has supported North Pole-40 isn’t the only ice to make headlines this week. The Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden glacier in northeast Greenland is on the radar as a couple of large cracks develop in unusual locations (science 2.0), and increased concentrations of black soot and other dust from around the world may be causing the expansion and increased severity of melt events on the Greenland ice sheet and elsewhere in the Arctic (Guardian, There is also an ongoing experiment to crowd-source predictions of the mean September ice extent that we can expect this year (Arctic Sea Ice Blog); thus far, the crowd’s predictions are appreciably gloomier than those of most models.

In other climate news, NASA made headlines with its field campaign “Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment” (CARVE), which has been studying concentrations of methane and carbon dioxide in areas where permafrost is thawing. Its recently-released results suggest surprising and troubling levels of both greenhouse gases – more detail in the press release from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Word also came out this week, however, that global warming has been slower in the past 15 years than was anticipated; there is some question as to why this is or what it might mean (NYT). Whatever the trends may be, India and Norway are “committed to a close cooperation … to combat and mitigate climate change in the Arctic and globally”, whatever that might mean ( A detailed and well-written post from Frontier Scientists (republished here in ADN) demonstrates why this should be; changes in Arctic weather patterns may have far-reaching effects much further South, potentially making their impact felt as far away as South Asia.

There is concern that Canada’s massive Mackenzie River Basin is at even greater risk than most ecosystems due to climate change, thanks to its dependence on glaciers and permafrost (CBC, The Tyee). While warming is a concern for the globe at large, Alaska’s spring has been one of the coldest on record (AD). Now, however, portions of the state are looking at the possibility of a record heat wave (FDNM). Such heat waves can make the threat of fires worse, as demonstrated by the expanding blaze near Mayo, Yukon (CBC).

Arctic life

A bear in northern Sweden is ruining the business of one poor beekeeper by stealing all of his honey repeatedly (EOTA). But it is polar bears that are of greatest concern, and Russia and the US recently agreed to a conservation management plan for the shared polar bear population of Alaska & Chukotka ( Susan Crockford, who argues that polar bears are plentiful and doing fine, writes in a comment in Canada’s Financial Post about a recent study indicating that “polar bear numbers in Davis Strait have not only increased to a greater density (bears per 1,000 km2) than other seasonal-ice subpopulations (like Western Hudson Bay), but may now have reached its carrying capacity.” One particular bear – Ranzo, a nearly-mature cub who lives in a zoo in Finnish Lapland – may soon have to relocate if his parents have another cub this year (YLE).

Moving on to aquatic life, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council has formally endorsed/requested greater research on the Bering Sea Canyons to see what management or conservation plans best suit that ecosystem (AJC). The decision appears to have the unique distinction of having pleased all, to a certain extent. In Southeast Alaska, plans are being floated to offer additional protection to the Tongass National Forest, in part to protect the salmon that make use of the Forest’s watersheds (AD). According to the article, the plan “would bar logging and road building, but allow mining, hunting, and hydroelectric projects that wouldn't harm fish.” Far away in Nunavut, there is concern that increased presence of orcas in local waters means increased pressure on other species (CBC). And researchers in Norway are busily at work trying to figure out how to glean all the information they can from bioacoustic marine surveys (, in Norwegian).

Writing about research

I loved reading this post from the Create Arctic Science blog about a long day working with grade-schoolers in Igloolik, Nunavut who’ve been doing environmental data collection.

In Canada, the proposed Canadian High Arctic Research Station is making its way through the design process. A mock-up of the building was presented in host city Cambridge Bay this week. Concern about hiring of “outsiders” vs. locals is bubbling up locally, although the facility is not slated to open until 2017 (NN, with pictures on Facebook).

A meeting to discuss the appropriate focus of Norway’s future Arctic research brought together many key figures from the country’s science community (, in Norwegian). Meanwhile on Norwegian seas, the intimate relationship between marine researchers and the crew members who manage much of the practical collection work is highlighted in an entertaining article on (in Norwegian). Tromsø’s Northern Research Institute (NORUT) is meanwhile focused on figuring out the best way to deploy drones in service of its research (NRK).

In Russia, scientists are working to develop a “vulnerability map” for the Kola Bay, which would highlight the most ecologically-sensitive spots and help to plan and shape cleanup efforts in case of an oil spill (Bellona). Next door in Finland, the country’s largest radio telescope, located in Kilpisjärvi in Finnish Lapland, has just had its ribbon-cutting (EOTA).


There are two upcoming conferences (many, actually) to have on your radar. First, Arctic Frontiers 2014 has opened its call for papers for the science section. Second, the 5th International Conference on Polar and Alpine Microbiology will be held in gorgeous Big Sky, Montana (great choice!) coming up in September.


The new Barents Declaration has an explicit focus on environmental cooperation, but there is concern among the Barents nations that Russia’s foreign agent laws will hamper work on that front (BO). / A lengthy post from attempts to demonstrate the importance of heat exchange between ice, water and air in the Arctic with some lengthy, rough calculations. / A long rhapsody on the explosion of life in spring in the Alaskan Arctic is well worth a read (ADN). / A man who apparently felt that a cow moose threatened him and his family shot the moose near the visitors’ center in Denali National Park, Alaska (AD). / Gradual warming in the Arctic may also contribute to the spread of unusual diseases in animal and human populations (Wired). / Researchers at Sverdrup Station on Ny-Ålesund have recently purchased an electric car to help cut down on local emissions (Norwegian Polar Institute, in Norwegian). / Among Russian cities, Murmansk is pretty far down the list in a recent ranking of overall ecological wellbeing by a Russian agency (BN). / Noctilucent clouds are a cool Arctic phenomenon worth learning about ( / Russia’s Shiveluch volcano on Kamchatka is belching ash up to a height of 9 kilometers (RIAN).

Military / Search-&-Rescue

The dismantlement of Russia’s Lepse vessel, which holds large amounts of radioactive waste and is currently docked at Kola Bay’s Nerpa shipyard, is being delayed by the Ministry of Defense because the Soviet Union’s first nuclear sub, the Leninsky Komsomol, is taking up its dry-dock space (Bellona). There is talk of turning the Leninsky Komsomol into a museum in St. Petersburg, but the Ministry of Defense has not decided what to do with the sub yet. Russia’s third Borey-class sub, the Vladimir Monomakh (due to enter service in 2014), and its crew received a blessing this week from a Russian Orthodox priest (RIAN). Turning to the skies, Russia’s Aerospace Defense Forces launched an electro-optical reconnaissance satellite earlier this month (RIAN), and the Finnish Border Guard is currently investigating the suspected violation of Finnish airspace by two Russian jets over the narrow Gulf of Finland (YLE).

A new survey by YLE found that 52 percent of Finns oppose NATO membership. An even larger percent are opposed if neighbor Sweden should join. Despite Finnish President Sauli Niinistö’s recent criticisms of the Swedish Air Force, President Niinistö said that the two countries are still on the same page when it comes to security policy, even given Sweden’s recent reforms of its defense strategy (IceNews).

In Finnmark, scientists from the Geological Survey of Norway discovered the submerged wreckage of a German Blohm & Voss BV 138 seaplane while working on a seabed mapping project (, in Norwegian). Elsewhere in Norway, an agreement was signed between the Norwegian Space Center and the Norwegian Costal Administration that will continue to allow civilian monitoring of vessels in Norwegian waters (NCA website, in Norwegian).

The Canadian government has initiated the process of finding a company to build the Nanisivik Naval Facility (CBC), and Nunavut’s Director of Protection Services, Ed Zebedee, is concerned over repeated misuse of emergency services via SPOT geolocation devices, which Zebedee said resulted in fourteen unnecessary international responses this year (CBC).

Ernie Regehr wrote an interesting blog post on missile defense and the Arctic for the ISN Blog exploring the Arctic’s classification as a “security community” given, on one hand, the expectation of peaceful interaction among states in the region, and, on the other hand, “the current build-up of conventional military capacity” in the Arctic and global “BMD dynamics.”



The CBC Radio show “Cross Country Checkup” hosted two former Premiers of the Northwest Territories, Nellie Cournoyea and Floyd Roland, and the current Premier Bob McLeod, to discuss the government’s push to develop the Territories’ oil, gas and mineral resources. You can stream the full conversation here. Last week was official Mining Week in the Northwest Territories (press release). The Government of the Northwest Territories and the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines released a strategy paper outlining ways to revitalize the mining sector in the region, including regulatory changes and infrastructure improvements. A full copy of the report can be found here. Critics of the report say it is biased towards the interests of industry and not local communities (Northern Journal).

Sabina Gold and Silver Corp. has completed a round of financing, bringing in CAD 20.6 million to support its operations in Nunavut (press release). The Qikiqtani Inuit Association is keeping mum about ongoing negotiations with Baffinland Iron Mines regarding an impact and benefits agreement for the proposed mine at Mary River (CBC). Inuit groups are pointing to deficiencies in the draft environmental impact statement that Agnico Eagle submitted for the proposed Meliadine gold mine in Nunavut, saying that the report does not address community concerns regarding potential impacts on wildlife, water quality and infrastructure (NN).

BlackRock Metals Inc.’s proposal for an open-pit iron and vanadium mine near Oujé-Bougoumou, Quebec, will go before a series of public hearings to solicit opinions and concerns about the project from local communities (CBC).

Creditors are trying to locate Shear Diamonds’ assets after the company, for all intents and purposes, disappeared last fall, leaving numerous unpaid bills (CBC).

While on a European tour, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Canada will sign on to a G8 agreement that seeks to improve the transparency and accountability of mining and oil and gas companies. Over 50% of the world’s mining is done by Canadian companies, and the sector has a poor reputation for graft and bribery after high-profile cases involving Canadian companies in Chad, Libya and Bangladesh (


The recent financial difficulties of the Pajala Iron mine have forced out the CEO of Northland Resources, the company that manages the mine. The mine has been on the brink of financial collapse after it was discovered that the company was short SEK 2.5 billion (EOTA). Writing for the Arctic Anthropology blog, Karin Granqvist tries to get to the bottom of the issue of foreign ownership of Sweden’s mines, which turns out to be a more difficult task than one would think.


The town of Nikel on the Kola Peninsula in Russia has the distinction of having made the list of the world’s most polluted places in 2007, thanks to the Norilsk Nickel mine and smelter located there. In spite of continuing complaints by local residents and neighboring states, the mine has failed to clean up its act. The reason: the mine is just too profitable, and its owners are some of the richest and most connected men in Russia (NN).


Five western Senators (all Democrats) are calling on President Obama to block the proposed Pebble Mine above Bristol Bay, Alaska. The mine, which would be located in the watershed that supports the Bay’s prolific salmon runs, could jeopardize the salmon population and the hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue these salmon bring to West Coast states through their commercial fisheries (ADN).

Fishing, Shipping & Other Business News


On the Pacific side of things, some of Alaska’s crab fisheries are getting ready to open at the same time as many of the state’s prominent salmon fisheries. The article looking at those various fisheries also includes several other notes of interest (Homer Tribune). The state is also treading a fine line as it considers how to protect its salmon fisheries including last summer’s collapsed king salmon run; the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council this week passed a new king salmon bycatch limit for non-pollock trawlers (AD). Though some fishermen see it as a great cost without any likely benefit, others are thrilled about the move, seeing it as a critical step towards protection of a possibly fragile resource (JE).

In another hot-button issue this week, the NPFMC elected not to institute special protections for the Bering Sea Canyons but, instead, to encourage more research to understand what kind of management and/or protection is necessary (JE). Some see this as simply postponement of what will be an unavoidably touchy decision. Further inland, the world’s largest sockeye-salmon hatchery may have been severely damaged by flooding in its hometown of Gulkana, Alaska (FDNM). And in Canada, a fairly technical speech from NWT Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment David Ramsay takes a surprisingly interesting look at the history of freshwater fishing on the Great Slave Lake – you’ll learn something, though it’s not wonderful reading (Gov’t of the NWT).

Now to the Atlantic, where Greenland’s decision to open a salmon fishery is causing quickened pulses and higher blood pressure in Canada (EOTA). Following a bad year for Atlantic salmon in 2012, there’s a great deal of accusation coming from Canada’s Atlantic salmon fisheries suggesting that Greenland’s increasing catch is doing real damage to North Atlantic populations (IceNews). Norwegians, meanwhile, are hearing from some of their doctors that it is unhealthy for young children and pregnant women to consume farmed salmon (, in Norwegian).

There are many other tasty morsels to be had from the sea besides salmon, and the gustatory charms of sea urchin roe are leading some to consider how sea urchin might be turned into an industry all their own ( Researchers meanwhile are trying to get a handle on herring in the North Atlantic; they’re asking whether their food supplies are adequate to sustain their population (Institute for Marine Research, in Norwegian). And a recently-released analysis suggests that haddock in the Barents Sea may be doing better than was previously believed ( Also this week, Iceland chatted with the EU yet again as part of the civilized but persistent “mackerel wars” between the tiny country and some of its neighbors (IceNews).

There’s much going on in Norway this week. Perhaps most interestingly, some researchers are beginning to ask whether a thriving fisheries industry and a thriving mining sector can co-exist in Norway (, in Norwegian). This is the same question bedeviling the Pebble Mine project in Alaska; let’s see what answer the Norwegians arrive at. Other developments taking place at the governmental level include an increase in catch quotas for some categories of vessels (Gov’t of Norway), the launch of a new system for assessing the carbon footprint of seafood products (Gov’t of Norway), the appointment of a new board for Norway’s Seafood Council (Gov’t of Norway), new regulations to protect immature pollock (Gov’t of Norway), and – of course – the decision that fishing will continue to be free for those under 20 and over 67 (Gov’t of Norway).

Outside the national government, Norwegian researchers are working on a system to assess the sustainability of any fish catch through a thorough life-cycle analysis (, in Norwegian). Others are working on figuring out which fishermen are most at risk of accident and how to begin mitigating those risks (, in Norwegian).


It’s been a quiet week for shipping news. Perhaps the most interesting article comes from the Vancouver Sun. In it, Mark Miller makes an unvarnished argument that the only realistic way for the Canadian government to approach its goals of Arctic sovereignty and vibrant Arctic communities is through the development of better infrastructure for shipping – perhaps first via Churchill, Manitoba and Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. In Norway, debate is ongoing about the wisdom of using the Northern Sea Route before more solid rules governing conduct there are in place (NRK, in Norwegian). And the last 5 months have seen solid growth in cargo turnover at the port of Murmansk (BN) – doubtless a blessing for a town in need of as much economic juice as it can get.

Other business news

Unsurprisingly, Facebook was able to garner some headlines this week with the announcement that it would open a massive server farm near Luleå, Sweden that will run entirely on hydroelectric energy and, thanks to the chilly climate, require significantly less energy to keep cool (BBC). It’s Facebook’s first such server farm outside the US, and the company received SEK 100 million support from the government to build the facility (EOTA).

Iceland is also turning its location to its advantage as it tries to become a world center for algae biomass production (IceNews), and the country’s leaders continue to speak optimistically about the likelihood that they’ll have the country out of debt in the near-term future (IceNews). In Russia, a meeting is coming up to discuss Finnish-Russian business cooperation in the Arctic (NArFU, in Russian). Such a thing is timely, as one keeps reading headlines about both the desire for cross-border business cooperation in the Barents region AND the many obstacles that exist to such cooperation. The hopes and challenges of young Barents-region entrepreneurs are cataloged in a brief but interesting piece from Barents Observer. There’s material here for much deeper reporting, and I hope to see more such in the future! Relatedly, President Putin has instructed his government to identify some ways in which the business climate in Russia could be improved (BN).

In Canada, this week saw brief reporting on several different business and employment issues. Allegations of discrimination against Inuit staff have landed at the feet of the Qulliq Energy Corporation in Nunavut (EOTA), and a large contracting firm’s collapse has left some organizations in Nunavut with half-built buildings and largely unrecoverable debts owed to them (NN). In Pangnirtung, NU, an optimistic initiative is underway to get a youth club started that would focus on teaching the basics of coding (NN). In the Northwest Territories, this past week was Tourism Week (Gov’t of the NWT).

Next door in Alaska, a presentation from TedX Anchorage is focused on developing the knowledge industry in Alaska as one of the state’s key future sectors (D. M. Karabelnikoff), while others are more interested in traditional work, like farming. A really wonderful article from Craig Medred (here via EOTA) will teach you all kinds of things you didn’t know about the history of farming in Alaska, as well as its (modest) present state.

And in tidbits from other industries, Norwegian company ColdTech is hard at work to develop technologies that will help researchers, shippers, etc. to understand and tackle the myriad challenges posed by sea ice ( Another Norwegian firm is developing software that will help, in the background, to keep offshore divers safe (, in Norwegian). And Finland has decided, for now, that it will not ban fur farming (EOTA).

Health, Education, Culture & Society

Tuberculosis continues to be a health challenge in northern Canadian communities. Two new cases were confirmed in Sanikiluaq (NN), and Salluit is experiencing a resurgence of the disease. Dr. Francoise Bouchard, in an interview for CBC, says higher incidence of TB is a reflection of living conditions in the North. In the Northwest Territories, the Health Department is combatting another health challenge that faces rural communities: access to emergency care. The Health Department is investigating medevac response times after it took five hours for a medevac to reach Trout Lake following a recent boating crash (EOTA).

Nunavut and the Northwest Territories are tackling poverty. Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak initiated the Collaboration for Poverty Reduction Act (, and the Government of the Northwest Territories released an anti-poverty plan late last week that was met positively by social policy group Alternatives North (HQ Yellowknife). Among elders in Iqaluit, family planning was proposed as one way to combat poverty and ensure that young people finish their schooling (CBC).

In southwest Alaska, two bootleggers were intercepted on their way to the dry community of Togiak (EOTA), and in Ross River, Yukon, residents are combatting bootleggers using the territory’s Safer Communities and Neighborhoods unit (CBC). There is growing public concern about alcohol abuse in the Northwest Territories, which the territory’s Legislative Assembly has moved to address in part by earmarking ten percent of liquor commission revenues for programs that prevent substance abuse (CBC).

Iqaluit is tackling trash with its annual spring cleanup, during which public officials will pick up residents’ large, unwanted items June 17-28 (NN), while in Murmansk’s Kola Bay a new waste management facility and landfill – the first of its kind above the Arctic Circle, according to Barents Nova – has been commissioned for 2015. Addressing somewhat related concerns, the working paper for the First International Conference on Urbanization in the Arctic is now available online via the Nordic Center for Spatial Development.

Sodankylä, Finland hosted the 28th annual Midnight Sun Film Festival this week, boasting international talents such as Philip Kaufman, Cristian Mungiu, Marco Bellocchio, and Claire Denis, as well as Finnish filmmakers Pekka Lehto and Jan Forsström (EOTA).

A beautiful story by Genesee Keevil in Up Here serves as an ode to the way of life and the inhabitants of Old Crow, a small Yukon community that the author calls “the North’s most remarkable place.”


The fullness of our infrastructure news comes this week from Canada and Alaska. From Alaska, one article takes a brief look at the ongoing cleanup effort after terrible flooding in Galena, Alaska (EOTA), while a second does a deep dive into the potential future development of some of Alaska’s ports. Though many of those covered are far from the Arctic Circle, the article will have value for you nonetheless (ABM).

From Canada, we hear a cri de coeur from Keith Halliday, who begs for an end to NorthwesTel’s monopoly over internet provision in Yukon (Yukon News). Further east in Nunavut, communications company Telesat will be donating to a fundraising effort which hopes to raise enough to build a “full-scale, state of the art, digital audio video, recording, performance and post-production facility” in Iqaluit at the cost of CAD 8 million (NN). And a CRTC hearing which will take place 17-20 June in Whitehorse and Inuvik will feature every telecom player of note in the Canadian North. I am ashamed to say I cannot identify the subject of this hearing.

In physical infrastructure, residents of several NWT communities in the Beaufort Delta are doubtless thrilled to hear that ferry service to their communities will be extended deeper into the fall than is usual this year (Gov’t of the NWT), while the community of Ross River, Yukon, is fighting to save a legacy wooden footbridge that has fallen into a state of some disrepair (CBC). And aloft, a new coalition of charter-air companies is hoping to secure to itself some of the apparently lucrative business of charter flights in western Nunavut (NN).


In strange, unusual and frightening athletic endeavors, this week saw profiles of three crazy basejumpers leaping from a cliff on Baffin Island (Daily Mail, with photos); two adventurers preparing for a Barrow-to-Svalbard trip in an ice-capable catamaran ( & Le Figaro, in French); eight soldiers from Alaska’s Fort Wainwright who successfully summited Mt. McKinley (FDNM); and a series of intrepid surfers who acquitted themselves well at the Nixon Surf Challenge in Iceland (IceNews).

The necessity of eliminating six sports from the Arctic Winter Games in Nuuk, Greenland in 2016 has spurred the consideration of an alternate, unaffiliated event for the excluded sports, to be prepared in North America (NN). In the nearer-term future, the 2014 Games in Fairbanks, Alaska are holding an open contest for a theme song (Homer News).

And in more pedestrian sporting news, Yukon’s Dan King will be representing the Territory at next month’s British Columbia Amateur Championships next month (Yukon News), Whitehorse’s Mount Sima ski hill is hoping for a bailout from the city (CBC), and the community of Ross River, Yukon will be looking at a rebuilt arena instead of a brand new one (CBC).

Images & Videos

Alaska Dispatch shared a great series of photos from western Alaska, Henry Huntington shared a wonderful series from Baffin Island via Facebook, and Mark Shu put up a clip of the Arctic viewed from a plane via Vine.

On Flickr, we have much this week for which to thank Clare Kines (@nunavutbirder on Twitter, thecaffeinatedbirder on Flickr). Enjoy an extended series of beautiful portraits of Red Knots (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), as well as an Arctic hare standing at attention and Susanna Barnabas singing and juggling. Then, from Keith Williams, a beautiful image of Tagish Lake.

Instagram was fertile ground this week from which sprung: two photos of the midnight sun in Iceland (@haraldurhelgi); several photos of the Lena River in Yakutia (@yakutsk); two portraits of an inquisitive fox in northern Norway (@ronnyaa); the midnight sun and the Arctic Sea coast at Prudhoe Bay (@maxxx629); Svalbard (@mrdestcroix); a 1:30 AM rainbow in the Northwest Territories (@ecojackiejo); a great Tromsø scene (@robert_greiner); a plunge into icy Norwegian waters (@lizberntsen); and a snowed-in bird hide from @biotope. And let us not ignore the most recent batch of Yellowknife pics from You can see a similar collection from across the Canadian North from the CBC.

Via Twitter, we’ve got: some beautiful ice-and-land pics from @acbelange on an airborne tour; an almost surreal image of the beautiful Tombstone Park in Yukon (@PatKanePhoto, with more of the same region from the Geosphere blog); a terrifying base-jumping picture (@Gambolaye); an aerial shot of a narwhal in the water (@PJTukker); and an Arctic tern – where, I’m not sure (@HotelFlatey).

The Grab Bag

Sled dog puppies on webcam. It’s true (US National Park Service). / Arctic rap from Norwegian & Sámi artists is also real. Film & images showing in New York at the NOoSphere gallery on the Lower East Side ( / Residents of Arctic Russia have been turning trash found on Franz-Josef Land into art of many kinds (BO). / The city of Murmansk also inspired a gaudy, sequined, strappy stiletto heel from Sergio Rossi. / This week’s Taissumani from Nunatsiaq News looks at the Minik Mural in Brooklyn, and the truly amazing story that inspired it, as well as the artist herself. / Craig Medred from Alaska Dispatch takes a close look at the recent shooting of a cow moose in Denali National Park, and what it says about the start of summer in Alaska. / A massive woolly mammoth statue in Whitehorse that had been yarn-bombed by Yarn Bomb Yukon has had its lovely, crazy-quilt pajamas stolen. The bombers hope someone will return it, even if only to wash and give to charity; it would make several useful blankets (CBC). / If you dig self-discovery ruminations, check out this lengthy reflection on Iceland in the Huffington Post. / I’ve never been to before, but this short declarative timeline of Eric Mack’s stay in the Alaskan Bush will have me back for more. A great read. / A new wing in the Oslo Museum is covering the close relationship between explorer Roald Amundsen and the Inuit who helped him and taught him along his Arctic travels (NN). / New hazy customs rules in Skagway, Alaska are creating issues for many boaters from Yukon (CBC). / I loved this story of the collective kitchen in the town of Umiujaq, Nunavik (NN). / In North Pole, Alaska, 15 hamsters and 6 guinea pigs were abandoned to their fate at the local transfer station (the dump, in essence). They’ve been rescued and are now up for adoption from the local animal shelter (FDNM).

Abbreviation Key

Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN)

Aftenbladet (AB)

Alaska Business Monthly (ABM)

Alaska Dispatch (AD)

Alaska Journal of Commerce (AJC)

Alaska Native News (ANN)

Alaska Public Media (APM)

Anchorage Daily News (ADN)

Barents Nova (BN)

Barents Observer (BO)

Bristol Bay Times (BBT)

BusinessWeek (BW)

Canadian Mining Journal (CMJ)

Christian Science Monitor (CSM)

Eye on the Arctic (EOTA)

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (FNM)

Financial Times (FT)

Globe and Mail (G&M)

Government of Canada (GOC)

Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT)

Huffington Post (HP)

Johnson’s Russia List (JRL)

Indian Country Today Media Network (ICTMN)

Moscow Times (MT)

Natural Gas Europe (NGE)

Naval Today (NT)

New York Times (NYT)

Northern News Service Online (NNSO)

Northern Public Affairs (NPA)

Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI)

Nunatsiaq News (NN)

Oil & Gas Journal (OGJ)

Ottawa Citizen (OC)

Petroleum News (PN)

RIA Novosti (RIAN)

Russia Beyond the Headlines (RBTH)

Russia Today (RT)

Voice of Russia (VOR)

Wall Street Journal (WSJ)

Washington Post (WP)

Whitehorse Star (WS)

Winnipeg Free Press (WFP)

Yukon News (YN)