Category: Facts & findings

Mass destruction of wildlife – from scientific papers.

The reason this industry is allowed on the Norwegian coast is because scientists say it is safe.

We can only suppose that this is the case – because we really dont know.

All indications are that it is not.

What we do know is that this industries activities are an experiment – that is insofar as the Norwegian state knows –

what we do know is that FMC biopolymer has more knowledge on how this works worldwide than any government or scientific organization – why?

Because theyve been harvesting and observing worldwide since the 50s.

In that time we know that many countries have had their seaweed beds destroyed by overharvesting.  Information is well buried.


We found some from our state run Niva.


Here is the paper concerned$FILE/5150_200dpi.pdf


Front page

Front page of on image to read.


This says that after taretråling – seaweed dredging – 2% of the original animal life is left

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Further reading shows puzzlement from the authors as to why FMC health and nutrition needs the entire coast to harvest

when the actual area needed according to the figures is only 87 square kilometers.

We suspect it is to do with the first snip – animal life reduced to 2% of its original.  We know that the alginate extract requires minimal animal life and that marine organisms spread from unharvested areas so they are very simply trying to destroy as much animal life as they can – with of course the permission of our politicians and ably abetted by various state run marine protection organizations – this is wholly unacceptable.  Essentially it means that millions of animals/seabirds are starving to death because there is no food.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Because harvesting occurs every 4 th year and the animals take between 5 and 9 years to return to their former population levels it is estimated that only 8% of the original life returns.



More damaging news for the Taretråling industry.

Helgeland Regionråd is an organization working with the 7  countiesAlstahaug,Dønna,Herøy,Leirfjord,Rødøy,Træna and vefsn.

It has just released a document detailing its concerns over taretråling – essentially it says that as the seaweed forests on their coasts have the highest density of life on the planet they are deeply concerned that there has been no documentation on the consequences of taretråling on their coast.

It goes further,  they want a report on the consequences before further permission is allowed.  So in other words 7 counties are deeply concerned on the effects and want this industry to stop.

Fd TT 1   Click to read document.


so why is it only these 7 – Taretråling has been going on in other parts of Norway for many years  why arent the other counties doing the same?

Possibly the answer is not the damage done to the environment but pure economics.


Worse still, the other counties are prepared to sell our environment to an American Owned company without any regard at all for the consequences.  We have papers detailing loss of important food species – crabs – lobsters and many types of fish – other documents tell of some not commercially important species having their populations devastated.  We know it seriously affects many bird species – we again have papers on this.

The worst aspect of this is that we rely on science – we trust it, even when our common sense tells us different – perhaps to be more exact we rely on scientists – the scientists concerned with this do not have enough research to show that taretråling is safe – they do not know the consequences of removing such vast masses of plant material or destroying such massive amounts of wildlife.

It is becoming apparent however that those consequences are beginning to show – it wont be long before our politicians will begin to want answers.






The Beginning of the end??

The beginning of the end?


Some great news – Møre and Romsdal county have refused permission/stopped seaweed dredging in some sensitive areas on our coast.  Weather this is due to the letters and protests they received last year from individuals and organizations is not known.




but it is causing some discomfort in the industry.


Ole Damm Kvilhaug

Terje Halsteinsen – a senior figure in the fiskeriedirektoratet (here he is giving a speech at the meeting in Trondheim – the article is worth reading)

says they have been doing this for years so they have no reason to suspect it is unsustainable.


Terje Halsteinsen adj


It is most interesting to read that they harvest 60, 000 tons in this area alone – but what the article does not mention is that to do this, officially they destroy 5 times that amount – that is 300,000 tons – we believe it is far more, but those are the official figures.  The figures for each harvesting area are between 15% and 80% removed – it does not take much to figure out that there are some interesting discrepancies here.


What we find hard to understand is that they are supposed to harvest so little – .03% but to do that they need the entire coast.

Areas of seaweed harvest  Map from Net algae – the eus report on the seaweed harvesting industry – they also sponsor some of it.


It is clear that our nature is being seriously affected by this industry with Bird colonies emptying where trawling takes place.  


Papers from serious institutions clearly say that the forests need between 6 to 9 years to reach former biodiversity, not the 5 or even 4 claimed – it is clear that the industry needs to have the areas harvested so frequently because they are conditioning the forests to have minimal epiphytes and fish life, but why the various state run bodies are supporting this is a mystery – they must know full well that sooner or later the degradation of our marine environment will become apparent and they will at best look incompetent – it is not difficult to find information about the deleterious effects of over harvesting by hand let alone by dredging.   Not to mention the re distribution of pcbs and other dangerous chemicals by disturbing bottom sediments and affecting their reabsorption, just as all bottom trawling does.


Bottom trawling pcbs etc  Click to read.



We hope and trust that other kommune up and down the coast begin to read the necessary articles themselves so they can come to a opinion based on scientific fact not so called scientific opinion from the havsforskningsinstitut and other state run organizations.


(thanks Jens)




Acidic seas from CO2


In the case of the effects of commercial seaweed harvesting it seems most experts are very careful to make statements that do the least harm. They dont want to cause ripples –

Belona co2 in the seaclick on image to enlarge

so this article on the effects green house gasses are having on our seas is most alarming in that there is no mention of seaweed that i can see and yet Norway is busy destroying its seaweed beds as fast as it possibly can.

Destroying – that is the correct word. Where is the precedent for this.

Brazil – Chile – Peru – what happened there???

Why has chile, one of the worlds poorest countries banned seaweed harvesting in 2008?

Interestingly enough Japan as long ago as the early 1900s started cultivating seaweed because it found harvesting continuously, destroyed the seaweed beds.

Article on japanese seaweed to read

We asked Bellona (one of Norways major environmental groups) what they felt about seaweed trawling, but they were unable to comment because they were busy on a project working with fmc biolopymers – the company that taretråwls the coast.

This is currently the areas regulated by the fiskeriedirektoratet but Harvesting is ocurring in a much larger area with so called “test “Trawling.  In fact currently the entire coast where seaweed grows in sufficient amounts to support the industry.

Map from the fiskeriedirektoratets website of trawling areas .

Areas of trawling


Even though FMC biopolymers say they only take 0.03% of the available amount it seems strange that they require such a large area to do so – it also seems strange that as officially each area looses between 15 and 80% of its seaweed from harvesting this figure is still adhered to.





 Are we really  doomed to repeat history because our researchers are not looking i the right places (to please our polititians?)  If i can find the information – so can they)

As a result the organizations responsible for regulating the harvest do not have enough information to call a halt either.

(how do i know this??? Ive asked them.)

when the esteemed scientists telling us our seas are becoming too acid through carbon dioxide absorption finally add seaweed harvesting to the list of causes it may be far too late.



More on Trawling.

Here is an article in Norwegian on Trawling – (from Jens)

havsforsknings institut tråling  click on image for full size   article in full.

What i find most interesting about this is the difference in the information in this article and this one – this is very short and just a little part of a much larger piece


More sediments from tråling

It is almost as if the information is being filtered.  Now who would benefit from that?

Bottom Trawling

Following the various debates on trawling it is clear that Norway has a 20 kilometer zone inside which no bottom trawling is allowed.

The details i have not been able to firmly ascertain but reading the wikipedia article on trawling some things begin to make sense

Wiki sedimentsDouble click on image to enlarge.


One major effect of bottom dredging is the disturbance of sediments

The re suspension of sediments means the release of chemicals back into nature   This is a report on just this.

sediments - pcbs Double click to read snip

We have nothing on the effects of continual trawling in the seaweed beds but i cannot imagine there is a major difference here – this occurs along the entire coast including bird reserves.

Could this be why  it is illegal to land blue halibut from Bodæ to Lofoten, or outside of Lofoten – they are contaminated by pcbs, but nobody seems to be aware of where these chemicals come from.

Blåkveite fisking stengtdouble click to read


Norway is a country well aware of any major marine disturbance so why is this allowed –

perhaps this article may give some answers


We also found some anomalies at the last meeting on Taretråling in Trondheim – there seems to be some confusion about the rights of these trawlers

Final day of the Trondheim seaweed harvesting Meeting.

It seems even the most senior in the fiskeriedirektoratet whose job it is to regulate the activities of these boats are more interested in protecting their activities then they are in regulating them.

Seems strange that ordinary trawlers have such strict regulations whereas Seaweed trawlers have every difficulty removed, including priority over ancient rights belonging to our fishermen.

It appears many of Norways major institutions are governed by industrialists involved with exploiting marine resources.  This is quite understandable and in fact common – however the cost in terms of health to individuals and the state and indeed the ultimate cost should their activities impact nature in the way we are all warned about would dwarf any benefit accrued to society or to the individuals concerned.



Seaweed harvesting – information problems

Over the last few years i have been studying seaweed and its harvesting worldwide on the internet.

A number of things stand out very clearly through contacts with universities, businesses the scientists concerned and many state and private organizations involved with marine protection and welfare –



The first is that there is no coordinated information on seaweed harvesting, its effects and worldwide activities.


Some of the state organizations are amazingly ill informed.

There seems to be no information on the effects of over harvesting, and very little historical data.


Universities and researchers seem to be so focused on parts of their particular subject that they seem to be completely unaware of major issues directly concerned with their subject coming from other major research institutions and organizations freely available on the internet. Many research subjects are duplicated.


Research is dependent on complete openness and honesty – good researchers rely on status and qualifications. If facts and figures are called into doubt then the credulity of the scientists involved is also called into doubt – status is very important.


The scientific world is extremely conservative in outlook and approach – whilst this is a plus for integrity it is open to exploitation.

Information is easy to control as it relies on funding, many of the Norwegian state funded research institutions have industrialists sitting on their boards.

Most environmental problems seem to be involved with business in one way or another.


The penalties for withholding information or falsifying information seem to be very minor. Any large concern caught lying can carry on with business as normal.


Public outlook and awareness is exploited by organizations and businesses involved with marine harvesting to cover up the effects of their activities.


Seabirds dying

it seems that the famous bird reserve on Runde is having problems.  Some specis of birds have nearly completely disappeared and others are in trouble.


The article mentions climate change and the warming of our seas as being responsible for the change in fish prey, but no mention at all of Norways biggest marine industry currently raking the entire seaboard for seaweed.

Fully laden tt


The connection perhaps requires research but the big question is first is there any research in this direction and second if there was and the result was positive, would it be published?


it is interesting to note that Peru and Chile had big problems with sea life in 2011

Big concerns  involved with seaweed harvesting there including our FMC BIOPOLYMERS – there are a number of theories about this but the fact is the animals appear to have died of starvation.

Thiamine deficiency can do this and the symptoms are difficult to diagnose – this can come about even from some specis of prey fish such as anchovies and herring – their gut from time to time can contain thiaminase which destroys thiamin

Articles are not too difficult to find .

We dont know the mechanisms involved with continual seaweed harvesting in the same areas – we need a great deal more research – but if our seabirds and mammals start dying in numbers then one can say that the same is happening here and there is one common factor.

Thiamin and Thiaminase – Interesting connections with animal deaths.

All animals require vitamins.

Probably the most important is vitamin b1 or thiamin.

We were alerted to the thiamin deficiency syndrome by a large environmental group we work with in Norway.

There were a number of strange reports included – land mammals and birds were also dying –  so why – this could be a very reasonable answer

It appears that this chemical Thiaminase is produced by a number of land plants – and is found in the gut of very important sea food animals such as Herring and Sardines – what it does is it renders thiamine useless.   Wikis article on the matter.

This is a report on keeping seabirds and mammals      A small extract on Thiamin and Thiaminase

Thiamine : Thiaminase, which breaks down
the vitamin thiamine, is present in the
t issues of some ®sh. Feeding birds on stored
®sh alone may therefore present a risk of
thiamine de®ciency. However, there is litt le
evidence that this is a problem in practice in
seabirds (although it can be fatal in seamammals). The common practice of feeding
seabirds thiamine supplements tucked into
the opercula or gut of ®sh is also likely to be
of litt le bene®t , as thiaminase is present in
high concentration in the gills and guts and
will rapidly break down all the thiamine in
the supplements.

It seems that thiaminase is found in the gut of herring, and many other specis of fish – it is difficult to find out the mechanisms for this, for instance where the substance comes from and why – it is also found on the surface of some sea urchins, produced by algae – perhaps a protection.

Mass die off peru NY times

This article is about a mass die off of marine birds and dolphins

For the seabirds, he wrote, the “most plausible hypothesis so far” from the National Agricultural Health Service is that they are dying from a lack of food, mainly anchoveta (Engraulis ringens), a Peruvian anchovy, as a result of the sudden heating of coastal waters.

The Environment Ministry said the dolphin deaths had no link to fisheries, red tides or other biotoxins, bacteria, heavy metals or pesticides. It said it had also ruled out any connection to offshore seismic testing by companies to locate oil and gas deposits under the seabed.

The one thing the article does not mention is any connection with thiamin or thiaminase – pure speculation on my part?  There are a few indicators – Anchovies being a nearly exclusive food and thiaminase often being found in their guts and bodies – dolphins in another article appearing to be dying from too rapid ascent and descent causing the equivalent of the bends – a brain malfunction?? Thiamin deficiency can cause this –  How this is connected to seaweed destruction is unclear but it seems that nearly everything in our seas is connected in one way or another – there has been massive uncontrolled harvesting on those coasts, so much so that chile banned it in 2008 though it still continues.


Effective Environmentalism.

Watching the Taretråwlers week in week out scraping the sea bottom is a emotive issue for anyone who loves nature and the sea.

We know from reading the reports that the company concerned wants the seaweed beds clear of epiphytes and animals – we know from reading documents on the Thiamin issue that our seabirds are dying – we see them from time to time – their movement is slow and uncoordinated, their wings hang listlessly – often we find the same seabird a few days later – floating in the water dead –

After trawling huge mounds of seaweed are washed ashore – the stalks and stems are completely bare of animal and plant life.  As trawling happens along the entire length of the Norwegian coast where there are viable seaweed beds we know this is everywhere.  There must be vastly larger amounts of stalks littering the sea floor – and this we know from fishermen who catch them in their hooks.


This is an empty taretråwler – you can judge its size from the man standing on the back outlined in yellow.

Blue tt with man


Fully laden tt       This is what a fully laden one looks like.





Talking to other environmentalists many say the same thing – its like a mantra – you can even see it on the taretråwlers website – the quantity of seaweed remains constant.   For many this is enough to walk away – for  the politicians we have spoken to it certainly is enough.

For us though we read further – the scientific papers actually say things like ” observations indicate that diversity of flora and fauna will be reduced within the trawled area. The diversity will probably not recover until the mean age of the plants reach the mean age of the large kelp plants in untrawled kelp forest. Mean age increase with increasing latitude and is about 7 years in mid-Norway ”  As harvesting occurs every 4th year this is not possible.   The word PROBABLY means they dont know.

this quote is from                       Rinde et al. 2006 – Effekter av taretråling


Those very simple words have a very STRONG MEANING – it means that the plants and animals normally living in the forests are not allowed to return.

THE FORESTS ARE DEPLETED.    How can that not be an important issue??

If you look at the maps you will see that the areas trawled are along the entire length of the coast – they even have access to over 90 bird reserves.

taretråling feldt fiskeridir

Many of the specis of animals in the forests cannot escape the trawlers so they die where the trawlers operate.

One variety of fish,  the gentle sygnathids would not be able to escape – this family includes the Seahorse of which specis the long nosed seahorse is found as far as North Norway – this is what the paper has to say about such animals   ”    We have little knowledge of rare species in marine ecosystems, and cannot exclude that a high trawling intensity in areas suitable for rare, unidentified species with poor dispersal properties, may lead to reduced occurrence and a negative development of these.”    Ie anything rare they may not know about will have a reduced population and even become extinct.

You cannot have much stronger words than those.


This article is about EFFECTIVE ENVIRONMENTALISM  one of our successes is the prosecution of a taretråwler for fishing illegally.  To date this is the only prosecution we are aware of – it seemed that our success only came after we taped a conversation with a senior police officer who felt it his duty to defend the boats no matter what.

More recently our activities have had several successes, but as they are still in the justice system it is not right to say anything other than the vehicle of one of our camera operators was attacked – unfortunately for the attacker he was filmed – we are not seeking to prosecute this but he should be aware that the film has been passed on to the appropriate authorities and we will prosecute if it happens again.