Archive for April, 2011

Beaufort Sea commercial fishing banned

April 21, 2011

CBC News Posted: Apr 15, 2011 5:32 PM CT – Original article here

Commercial fishing is off-limits in the Beaufort Sea, according to a new agreement between the federal government and the Inuvialuit people of the western Arctic.

An ulu, a traditional Inuit cutting tool, is seen on a table with Arctic char in Iqaluit in this 2009 photo. Like in the eastern Arctic, char is fished by the Inuvialuit people in the Beaufort Sea.

An ulu, a traditional Inuit cutting tool, is seen on a table with Arctic char in Iqaluit in this 2009 photo. Like in the eastern Arctic, char is fished by the Inuvialuit people in the Beaufort Sea. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

The memorandum of understanding, which both parties signed Friday in Inuvik, N.W.T., is the first step towards a comprehensive ocean management plan in the Beaufort Sea.

The agreement prohibits any new licences from being issued for commercial fishing in the Beaufort Sea at least until the management plan is developed and implemented — a process that could take years.

Commercial fishing does not usually happen in the Beaufort Sea, but melting sea ice have opened up Arctic waterways to more fishing and commercial traffic.

Preventing a fishing rush

For many years, Arctic char and other fish species in the Beaufort Sea and other northern waterways had been protected by thick layers of sea ice that were dangerous for fishing and other marine vessels.

‘We don’t want to wake up some morning … and find a big, rusty Korean fishing boat offshore.’—Burton Ayles

But the Northwest Passage has become more ice-free recently, which has led to more cruise ships, sailboats and commercial shipping and fishing vessels coming north.

The Beaufort Sea fishing ban is being put in place before there is a rush to create a new commercial fishery, according to federal and Inuvialuit officials.

“We don’t want to wake up some morning in [Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T.] and find a big, rusty Korean fishing boat offshore,” said fisheries scientist Burton Ayles, a member of the Fisheries Joint Management Committee, which consists of federal and Inuvialuit representatives.

With fish stocks in steep decline around the world, Ayles said Inuvialuit and others living near the Beaufort Sea do not want the region to be overfished.

Temporary commercial fishing permits that were issued in the Beaufort Sea over the past 10 years have not worked out well, Ayles said.

“They didn’t always report back properly on what they were harvesting,” he said.

Fragile ecosystem

Nellie Cournoyea, chair of the Inuvialuit Regional Corp., said the Beaufort Sea ecosystem is too fragile to accommodate large boats with fishing nets.

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent makes its way through the ice in Baffin Bay in 2008. Arctic waterways have increasingly become ice-free in recent years, opening them up to more marine traffic.

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent makes its way through the ice in Baffin Bay in 2008. Arctic waterways have increasingly become ice-free in recent years, opening them up to more marine traffic. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Cournoyea said not much is known about fish populations in the area, but people in the area do know that fish is a vital food source for other marine species.

“There’s a cautionary approach to this because it all has to come into balance,” she said.

“You wouldn’t want to create a fishery that would take away from that food stock of the whales or the seals or the other species that live offshore.”

Frank Pokiak of the Inuvialuit Game Council said people in the region would rather see Inuvialuit people participating in small-scale traditional fisheries than large-scale commercial fisheries.

“They’re willing to keep the doors open for Inuvialuit beneficiaries to do small-scale fisheries,” he said. “I know some people, at this time right now, they do harvest some of the fish species for selling … dry fish and things like that.”

Demand for polar bear hides soars: auction house

April 21, 2011

CBC News Posted: Apr 11, 2011 10:58 AM CT – Original article here

One of Canada’s largest fur auction houses says it cannot meet the soaring demand for polar bear hides, provoking concerns about overhunting in southern Hudson Bay and other areas..

Demand and prices for polar bear hides have been escalating over the past five seasons, says an official with Fur Harvesters Auction Inc. in North Bay, Ont. Russians are particularly interested in the hides, he said.

A polar bear and her cubs walk along the shore of Hudson Bay near Churchill, Man., in 2007. An estimated 900 to 1,000 polar bears live in the southern Hudson Bay region.

A polar bear and her cubs walk along the shore of Hudson Bay near Churchill, Man., in 2007. An estimated 900 to 1,000 polar bears live in the southern Hudson Bay region. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

“The supply does not even come close to meeting the demand,” Mark Downey, the auction house’s chief executive officer, told CBC News.

At the company’s most recent sale in January, polar bear hides sold for an average of $5,000, Downey said. One sold for a record high of $11,000.

Each buyer at the sale wanted all 80 of the polar bear hides on offer but had to settle for two or three hides each, he said.

“There’s a lot of interest for really top-quality specimens, 10-footers-plus, well-handled bears for the Russian market,” he said. “There’s a lot of Russian businessmen or what have you that would like to have a polar bear rug.”

Demand in Russia, Asia, Canada

Downey added that polar bear hides are also wanted for life-size mounts or displays for museums and airports.

“The top goods are ending up going to Russia, whereas the other ones are going basically all over,” he said. “They’re going to China, they’re going into Canada … could be into Japan.”

Hunters in Nunavik, a predominantly Inuit region in northern Quebec, have killed an unusually high number of polar bears this year, and demand has been cited as a reason.

Hunters in Inukjuak, Que., have told CBC News they have killed at least 60 polar bears since January in southern Hudson Bay. On average over the last five years, fewer than four polar bears a year were killed.

Quebec government officials have said the demand for polar bear hides is so high that buyers are purchasing hides with the fat still on them.

Wildlife group calls for management system

The demand for polar bear hides can result in overhunting, said Pete Ewins, a senior officer in charge of species for World Wildlife Fund Canada.

Ewins said Quebec needs a good polar bear management system, similar to one in Nunavut.

Unlike Nunavut, where each community is allowed an annual hunting quota for polar bears, Quebec does not have a fixed quota system.

Inuit hunters in Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, who also hunt from the southern Hudson Bay polar bear population, have said they are concerned the large hunt in Nunavik could result in fewer bears for them to harvest.

Ontario also has no fixed quota system for polar bears, but that province’s government has a management agreement with Cree people there.

Ewins applauded the Quebec government’s move to call a meeting of polar bear hunters and government officials from that province, Nunavut and Ontario in June.

“Although it’s driven, I think, by damage-control reasons, it probably will result in a shift in priorities and I think Quebec will catch up,” he said. “I’m an optimist.”

Polar bear experts have been calling for polar bear management agreements that are shared between jurisdictions.

Figures obtained from Environment Canada show the number of international export permits issued for polar bear hides has risen from 219 in 2005 to 320 in 2010.

Report warns of ‘crumbling’ Arctic

April 21, 2011

Big Pond News, Sunday, April 17, 2011 – Original article here

Arctic coastlines are crumbling away and retreating at the rate of two metres or more a year due to the effects of climate change, a report says.

In some locations, up to 30 metres of the shore has been vanishing every year.

The rapid rate of coastal erosion poses a major threat to local communities and ecosystems, according to a new report by more than 30 scientists from ten countries.

Two-thirds of Arctic coasts consist of frozen soil, or permafrost, rather than rock, and are highly sensitive to erosion by wind and waves.

Rising temperatures are melting protective sea ice fringing the coastlines and leaving them more exposed to the elements, say the experts.

The report, State of the Arctic Coast 2010, says ten-year average rates of coastal retreat are ‘typically in the one to two metres per year range, but vary up to 10 to 30 metres per year in some locations’.

Worst-hit areas include the Beaufort Sea, the East Siberian Sea and the Laptev Sea.

The study, led by scientists from the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres and the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), is published online and in the journal Estuaries and Coasts.

Information on more than 100,000 kilometres of Arctic coastline – around a quarter of the total – was collected for the report.

The scientists stressed that Arctic coastal habitats were the ‘prime lifeline’ for Arctic communities, supporting a large population of fish, birds and mammals, including an estimated 500 million seabirds.

They wrote: ‘In the face of unprecedented and jarring changes in the local environment on which traditional livelihoods and cultures depend, Arctic coastal communities are coping with rapid population growth, technological change, economic transformation, confounding social and health challenges and, in much of the Arctic, rapid political and institutional change.

‘It is evident that the coast is a critical component of the Arctic system requiring explicit attention.

‘As a focus of human activity with attendant hazards, the circumpolar Arctic coast is clearly a priority for monitoring and detection to support pro-active adaptation and sustainable development.’

They hoped the report would help to close information gaps and ‘mobilise the resulting knowledge in an effective way for the betterment of Arctic coastal ecosystems, the peoples of the north and the global community’.

Dr Hugues Lantuit, one of the authors from the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam, Germany, said until recently little was known about what was happening to Arctic coastlines.

‘When systematic data acquisition began in 2000, detailed information was available for barely 0.5 per cent of the Arctic coasts,’ he said.

Top quality Barents Sea oil

April 21, 2011
Barents Observer 2011-04-12 Original article here
The Polar Pioneer jackup rig (photo: Harald Pettersen / Statoil)The Polar Pioneer jackup rig (photo: Harald Pettersen / Statoil)

This oil is like champagne, Statoil’s Helge Lund says about the newly discovered Skrugard field in the Barents Sea.

Talking at the Energy Conference in Bergen today, Helge Lund underlined that the oil which his company has found in the Skrugard field in the Barents Sea is of the very best quality.

-The Skrugard oil is almost like champagne, he said in his presentation, newspaper Dagens Næringsliv reports. –It is light and nice, and makes us very optimistic, he added.

Read also: Finally large Barents oil discovery

The Statoil leader does not exclude that his company now has found a key approach to understanding the geology of the Barents Sea. Over the last years, a number of wells have been drilled in the area, but only a couple of fields of significance found. Statoil already operates the Snøhvit gas field, and ENI is preparing for production at its Goliat oil field.

In his conference presentation today, Helge Lund showed a map depicting the Snøhvit, the Goliat and the Skrugard fields. –This could actually be a new industrial horizon with three building blocks, he maintained.

The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy now intends to offer a number of new licenses to blocks in the area of the Skrugard field. The finding of Skrugard has a significance which can not be exaggerated, State Secretary Per Rune Henriksen said at the conference, DN.no reports. In the course of spring this year, new licenses will be issued as part of the 21th Norwegian license round.

Norway now also intend to start geological mapping of the newly delineated waters further east in the Barents Sea. As previously reported by BarentsObserver, Norwegian authorities have on several occasions confirmed that seismic studies of the waters will start as soon as the delimitation deal has been ratified by both Norway and Russia. Russia completed the ratification process last week.

Read also: It’s a deal!

Text: Atle Staalesen

Hornorkesteret to perform at Klubb Kanin event in Oslo april 29th!

April 21, 2011

Hornorkesteret will be appearing as part of the line-up for Klubb Kanin at Sound of Mu in Oslo, friday april 29th,  along with some fine bands including a reunion of eighties darkwave synth group Mørkelagt Bevegelse.

The show starts at 20:00 and the live music is over before 23:00.
The order of appearance is not given.

Line-up:

Mørkelagt Bevegelse
Origami Olympika
Hornorkesteret

Origami Republika‘s Klubb Kanin is an exciting evening of performances, presented back to back in almost cabaret-style from several different performers. Experimental music and improv as well as acts bordering on theatrical performance and conceptual art has been a main ingredient since the start, years ago, by Tore H. Bøe and the Republika. This concept has since gone world-wide, and Klubb Kanin events have been performed in a variety of venues across the globe.

Origami Republika

Klubb Kanin: Trondheim

Arctic ozone levels in never-before-seen plunge (BBC News)

April 6, 2011

Long a consideration in the Antarctic, ozone levels in the Arctic are now a cause for concern

By Richard Black 5 April 2011
Environment correspondent, BBC News, Vienna
Original article here

The ozone layer has seen unprecedented damage in the Arctic this winter due to cold weather in the upper atmosphere.

By the end of March, 40% of the ozone in the stratosphere had been destroyed, against a previous record of 30%.

The ozone layer protects against skin cancer, but the gas is destroyed by reactions with industrial chemicals.

These chemicals are restricted by the UN’s Montreal Protocol, but they last so long in the atmosphere that damage is expected to continue for decades.

“The Montreal Protocol actually works, and the amount of ozone-depleting gases is on the way down, but quite slowly,” said Geir Braathen, a senior scientist with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which co-ordinates ozone data globally.

“In the meantime, we have some winters that get much colder than before and also the cold periods last longer, into the spring,” he told BBC News.

“So it’s really a combination of the gases still there and low temperatures and then sunshine, and then you get ozone loss.”

Dr Braathen was one of a number of scientists presenting the findings at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) annual meeting in Vienna.

‘Sun screen’

The destructive reactions are promoted by cold conditions (below -78C) in the stratosphere.

While this is an annual occurrence in the Antarctic, where the annual depletion has garnered the term “ozone hole”, the Arctic picture is less clear, as here the stratospheric weather is less predictable.

This winter, while the Arctic was unusually warm at ground level, temperatures 15-20km above the Earth’s surface plummeted and stayed low.

“The low temperatures were not that different from some other years, but extended much further into March and April – in fact it’s still going on now,” said Farahnaz Khosrawi, an ozone specialist at the Meteorological Institute at Stockholm University, Sweden.

Another, Dr Florence Goutail from the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), put the 2010/11 winter in context.

“Usually in cold winters we observe that about 25% of the ozone disappears, but this winter was really a record – 40% of the column has disappeared,” she said.

The longer and colder Antarctic winters often see 55% of the ozone depleted.

However, this has hardly any impact on human health, as the region is largely uninhabited – only the southern tip of South America sometimes comes under the ozone hole.

But in the Arctic, the situation is different.

Over the last month, severe ozone depletion has been seen over Scandinavia, Greenland, and parts of Canada and Russia.

The WMO is advising people in Scandinavian countries and Greenland to look out for information on daily conditions in order to prevent any damage to their health.

Loss of ozone allows more of the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet-B rays to penetrate through the atmosphere. This has been linked to increased rates of skin cancer, cataracts and immune system damage.

“With no ozone layer, you would have 70 times more UV than we do now – so you can say the ozone layer is a sunscreen of factor 70,” said Dr Geir Braathen at World Meteorological Organization.

Snow fall

Ozone depletion is often viewed as an environmental problem that has been solved.

The Montreal Protocol, established in 1987, and its successor agreements have phased out many ozone-depleting chemicals such as the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that used to be in widespread use as refrigerants.

Balloon used for Arctic ozone measurements Ozone data were captured using satellites and weather balloons

Use of some continues at a much lower level, with poorer developing countries allowed more time in which to switch away from substances essential to some of their industries.

But even though concentrations of these chemicals in the atmosphere are falling, they can endure for decades.

In polar regions, the concentration of ozone-depleting substances has only fallen by about 10% from the peak years before the Montreal Protocol took effect.

In addition, research by Markus Rex from the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany suggests that winters that stand out as being cold in the Arctic stratosphere are getting colder.

“For the next few decades, the [Arctic ozone] story is driven by temperatures, and we don’t understand what’s driving this [downward] trend,” he said.

“It’s a big challenge to understand it and how it will drive ozone loss over coming decades.”

Projections suggest that the Antarctic ozone hole will not fully recover fully until 2045-60.

Bounty set on mårhund (raccoon dog) in Bardu, Nye Troms reports

April 5, 2011

Norwegian newspaper Nye Troms reports that the Game Board of Bardu has set common bounties or skuddpremier for the invading species raccoon dog, mårhund. The Game Board or Viltnemnda set bounties for six new wild species in the municipality of Bardu when last convened. Land owners in the municipality used to have different bounties for different species, but now the Board has set common guidelines for these bounties. The six species are:

Mårhund (raccoon dog) NOK 1 000

Rev (fox), mår (marten) and mink NOK 500

Ravn (raven) NOK 250

Kråke (crow) NOK 200

Nye skuddpremier i Bardu
Solveig B. Steinnes,  05.04.11 Original article here

BARDU: Viltnemnda i Bardu vedtok på siste møte å innføre skuddpremier på seks arter av vilt i kommunen.

TALLRIK: Det er for mye rev på innlandet. Derfor gis det 500 kroner i skuddpremie på rev i Bardu. (Foto: Terje Tverås)

Bakgrunnen for vedtaket var en henvendelse fra Samarbeidsutvalget for grunneier lagene om samordning av skuddpremiene i kommunen. Det har tidligere vært slik at de forskjellige grunneierlagene har hatt egne ordninger med skuddpremier, på litt forskjellige dyr, og med forskjellige premier.
– Det som har skjedd nå er at vi har vedtatt felles satser på seks jaktbare rovviltarter, slik at det nå betales samme premie uansett hvor i kommunen dyret er felt, sier skogmester i Bardu, Terje Størseth.
De seks artene som omfattes av ordningen, er rev, mår, mink, ravn, kråke og mårhund. Satsene varier fra 200 kroner for kråke, 250 for ravn, via 500 for rev, mår og mink, til 1000 kroner for mårhund.

Les mer i tirsdagens papirutgave

Statoil reports “significant oil find” in Barents Sea (Norwegian only)

April 1, 2011

Satoil, April 1.st 2011 – Original article here

Statoil har sammen med partnerne Eni Norge og Petoro gjort et betydelig oljefunn på Skrugard-prospektet i Barentshavet. Funnet er et gjennombrudd i dette uutforskede området og en av de viktigste lete-hendelsene på norsk sokkel de siste ti årene.

Statoil er sammen med partnerskapet i ferd med å avslutte boringen på Skrugard-prospektet som ligger ca. 100 kilometer nord for Snøhvit-feltet i Barentshavet.

Brønnen, som er boret med riggen Polar Pioneer, har påvist en gasskolonne på 33 meter og en oljekolonne på 90 meter. Oljen er av lett og fin produserbar kvalitet.

Dette gir estimerte volumer på mellom 150 og 250 millioner fat utvinnbare olje-ekvivalenter (o.e.) i funnet, samtidig som Statoil ser muligheter for ytterligere oppside i lisensen på inntil 250 millioner fat, totalt 500 millioner fat o.e.

BildeKonserndirektør for leting i Statoil, Tim Dodson.

– Funnet på Skrugard er betydelig og et gjennombrudd for frontier-leting i Barentshavet. Dette åpner en ny oljeprovins som kan gi ytterligere ressurstilvekst, sier konserndirektør for leting i Statoil, Tim Dodson.

Han understreker at det er for tidlig å si noe om det totale potensialet i området, men drister seg likevel til å karakterisere Skrugard-funnet som den viktigste letehendelsen på norsk sokkel de siste ti årene. Funnet er viktig for å opprettholde aktiviteten i teknologi- og kompetansemiljøene i oljeindustrien fremover.

Statoil har i sine planer lagt inn både boring av nytt prospekt i samme lisens neste år, samt en mulig avgrensningsboring på funnet.

Skrugard-prospektet var Statoils første prioritet i den 20. konsesjonsrunden på norsk sokkel som ble tildelt i april 2009. I løpet av våren vil myndighetene tildele leteareal i 21. konsesjonsrunde der areal i nærliggende områder av Skrugard forventes tildelt.

Boreoperasjonene har vært gjennomført på en sikker, effektiv og miljøvennlig måte. Det er tatt flere kjerneprøver for å forstå reservoaregenskapene og fortsatt gjenstår noe datainnsamling i brønnen.

Totalt er det boret mer enn 80 brønner i Barentshavet Sør og Statoil har vært operatør for mer enn 60 av disse. Snøhvit hvor Statoil er operatør, er det eneste feltsenteret som hittil er etablert i Barentshavet, mens Enis Goliat-felt er under utbygging.

– Barentshavet er stort, og vi kan ikke med dette si at vi har knekket koden for hele området, men vi har fått bekreftet at letemodellen vår er riktig. Det er et gjennombrudd og det er et viktig steg for å forstå hvordan geologien, og dermed hydrokarbonsystemene i Barentshavet fungerer, sier Dodson.

– Dersom volumanslagene blir bekreftet, vil dette funnet kunne gi grunnlag for en selvstendig utbygging. Med tanke på at det tar mellom 5 og 10 år fra funn til produksjon, så er det nå vi planlegger for fremtiden. Vi har ambisjoner om å få satt dette i produksjon raskest mulig, sier han.

Statoil er operatør for lisens 532 med en andel på 50 prosent. Partnere er Eni (30 prosent) og Petoro (20 prosent).

Bilde

UPDATE 3-Big Statoil Arctic find revives Norway’s oil future (Reuters)

April 1, 2011

April 1st. 2011, Reuters, Original article here

* Skrugard holds 150-250 mln boe recoverable reserves

* Potential upside for total 500 mln boe

* Most significant off Norway in last decade

* Nearby prospect could also have big potential

* Statoil shares to three-and-a-half-year high

(Adds environmental concern, updates shares)

By Gwladys Fouche and Henrik Stoelen

OSLO, April 1 (Reuters) – Norway’s Statoil (STL.OL) has made a big oil find in the Arctic North, the firm said on Friday, breathing new life into Norway’s declining oil prospects and lifting the company’s shares to a 3.5-year high.

The company said the 150-250 million barrels of oil equivalent Skrugard discovery in the Barents Sea could potentially hold up to 500 million barrels and is the most significant off Norway in the last decade. It said a nearby prospect also looked promising. “This is fantastic, a breakthrough for us in this section of the Barents Sea,” Gro Gunleiksrud Haatvedt, Statoil’s head of exploration off Norway, told Reuters.

“This find will lead to a new boom in exploration in the area,” said Magnus Smistad, an analyst at Fondsfinans. “This is an exciting area and the potential could be even bigger.”

Statoil shares were up 2.2 percent to 156.7 crowns at 1612 GMT while shares in Italy’s Eni (ENI.MI), which has a 30 percent stake in the licence, were up 1.85 percent to 17.65 euros.

Norway is the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter and the second-largest for gas but its oil output has been declining since 2001 and oil discoveries have become ever smaller.

In January Norwegian authorities slashed their estimates for offshore undiscovered oil and gas resources by 21 percent to 16.4 billion barrels of oil equivalent, making the country less attractive to oil majors — until today. [ID:nLDE70B1MD]

“This discovery is the missing element needed to develop the Barents Sea into an oil province over the long-term,” Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy Ola Borten Moe said in a statement.

Finding oil in the Barents Sea has been tough. More than 80 exploration wells have been drilled there since 1980 but only two discoveries have been made — Statoil’s Snoehvit gas field and Eni’s Goliat oilfield.

Discovered in 2000, Goliat was the biggest oil find made in the Norwegian Barents Sea until now, with an estimated 240 million barrels in oil equivalent.

The find could lead to renewed concern about the impact of oil activity in a remote part of the Arctic, following the BP (BP.L) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Before drilling on Skrugard began last year, the Norwegian Polar Institute expressed worries about the potential impact of oil leaks that could get trapped in the Arctic sea ice, which extends to within some 150 kilometres (93 miles) north of Skrugard.

Haatvedt said Statoil would drill another well at Skrugard next year, which is about two-third oil and one-third gas, as well as another well at a nearby prospect.

“The other prospect has big potential, with a strong upside,” the executive said, declining to offer more details. The third partner in the license is Norwegian state-owned firm Petoro, which holds a 20 percent stake.

“It takes between 5 to 10 years from making a discovery to production, so we are planning for the future now … “We want to start production as soon as possible,” Statoil said, adding that it saw possibilities for a stand-alone production installation for Skrugard.

(Editing by Richard Mably and Jason Neely)