19 and 20th September Johan Breivik and I – Bertram Sømme from stopptt attended a meeting about Commercial seaweed harvesting on the Norwegian coast in Trondheim hosted by Nord and Syd Trondheim Fylkeskommune and others
Present were some 60 people from the major state marine biological organisations – from the Fiskeriedirektoratet – from the Kommune(councils) up and down the country – from the Miljødirektoratet – the environment agency and from the seaweed harvesting industry including Fmc, Algea, the Taretråwler skippers and perhaps the most important of all several very concerned private citizens.
|Arneberg||Ellen||Fylkesmannen i Sør-Trøndelag|
|Bertelsen||Bernt||Fiskeri- og kystdepartementet|
|Betten||Ola||Fylkesmannen i Møre og Romsdal|
|Brødreskift||Jan||Fiskeridirektoratet region Trøndelag|
|Ekli||Monica||Fylkesmannen i Sør-Trøndelag|
|Ely-Aastrup||Hilde||Fylkesmannen i Nord-Trøndelag|
|Fjermedal||Anne Brit||Fiskeridirektoratet region sør|
|Garte Nervold||Gunhild||Fylkesmannen i Nordland|
|Gorseth||May Brit Myrholt||Fylkesmannen i Nord-Trøndelag|
|Grindvik Blikø||Magny||Fiskeridirektoratet region Trøndelag|
|Grydeland||Jan Helge||Roan kommune|
|Hagen||Eli Merete||Fiskeridirektoratet Region Vest|
|Hovland||Frode||Sogn og Fjordane fylkeskommune|
|Hoxmark||Jens Odd||Privatperson Tromøy Aust-Agder|
|Jakobsen||Ole-Einar||Fiskeridirektoratet region Møre og Romsdal|
|Jansen||Turid Susort||Rogaland fylkeskommune|
|Knudtsen||Solveig Skjei||Nord-Trøndelag fylkeskommune|
|Kvilhaug||Ole Damm||FMC Biopolymer AS|
|Lorentsen||Svein-Håkon||Norsk institutt for naturforskning, NINA|
|Lorgen||Karl Anton||Fiskeridirektoratet region Møre og Romsdal|
|meinert||jurgen||norske sjømatbedrifters landsforening|
|Roald||Sverre Ola||Fiskeridirektoratet region Møre og Romsdal|
|Sandberg||Jan Henrik||Norges Fiskarlag|
|Sandnes||Arne Håkon||Molde kommune|
|Sefland||Inger Mette||Fiskeridirektoratet region vest|
|Sigstadstø||Eirik||Fiskeri- og havbruksnæringens forskningsfond|
|Sira||Inger Helene||Tingvoll kommune|
|Slettvåg||Arve||Møre og Romsdal fylkeskommune|
|Stølen||Elin||privatperson (fra Sogn og Fjordane)|
|Ulriksen||Vidar||Fiskeridirektoratet Region Vest|
|Ulsund||Carina||Fylkesmannen i Sør-Trøndelag|
|Utvær||Hanne Marie||Fiskeridirekoratet region vest|
|Viken||Odd Inge||Roan Fiskarlag|
Why important? Because these citizens are deeply worried that there is not enough knowledge about the consequences of the industry – that the signs that there is something wrong are being ignored. These are ordinary people who are prepared to spend several thousand Kroner and their time to let their voice be heard and to find out more. (one could say it was the job of the others to be present)This is clear indication of the concern the public has over this issue and its not being addressed.
The meeting was held in the very splendid Clarion Hotel in Trondheim – full of vast open spaces and artworks – a impressive demonstration of wealth and status –
We asked the organizers of the conference if we could present a little video we had made – we were told we could – but as events turned out there was some confusion – fair enough it was not a good video.
However the national television was there – NRK – they got the video so it is entirely possible that it will get a far more important audience. However as always they left before the fireworks began.
The message we (stopptt) got from the meeting was clear – our little organization is having a strong impact – out website and blogs are carefully read and scrutinized by the taretråling industry – private individuals and many others – we know this because we were told this by individuals from those organizations (we also have a counter on our old site http://stopptt.no/ it currently reads 38,000) – what we did not get was any indication from the marine biologists present that they knew anything at all about us, or our site, or the information we had – in fact throughout the meeting the most important questions we asked received no answers and it was clear that they did not know, further they wanted me and those present to clearly understand that they
DID NOT WANT TO KNOW!!
On the surface this has a number of results but one clear one is that this is possibly why we should be extremely worried about our oceans and the state of them – many scientists are more concerned about status than fact.
We managed to film most of the meeting – and a lot of information was forthcoming – perhaps the most important was the mechanism of the natural control of sea urchins, it appears there there are several, and that they are functioning. The main mechanism is by a nematode worm. We tried to find out information about this from Theirry Chopin in Canada (who is one of the worlds experts on seaweed http://www2.unb.ca/chopinlab/
2 years ago, but got nowhere – we still have a lot of unanswered questions about the mechanisms involved, it is clear they wont be answered in the present climate.
One rather worrying feature of this problem is the experimental use of quicklime to control the predation – worrying because it might negatively effect the predacious (parasitic) nematode population – we understand there is also a predacious gastropod and that might be effected – but then this is not our job, we have professionals for that.
There were no clear answers – did manage to find out that it has not happened because of taretråling (in some areas) and that nobody knows quite why however as the area (trondheim to lofoten) has only just recovered it seems dangerous to allow taretråling in the area so soon. There are reports which state that there is often a population explosion shortly after taretråling.
From a private discussion with a representative of the miljødirektoratet http://www.miljodirektoratet.no/ they had presented no objections to opening this area for harvest as they have no negative information. During our conversation it was clear that they had no information about my documents and their contents in fact they were surprised, very. What impact it would have had on their decision though is something else. They took with them a large amount of the printed documents I had with me.
Several times during the meeting i pointed out that this meeting was about tarehøsting in Norway – NOWHERE ELSE – there seemed to be no awareness at all of what is happening elsewhere or even that our oceans are connected– of the negative consequences of harvesting in other lands – even little of the negative consequences of seaweed cultivating – there is an annual slick now of some 30,000 square kilometres in the yellow sea due to a problem associated with cultivation.
I would like to point out that the distribution of documents at the meeting was not really important – because we supply quite a number of organizations that have important roles to play, both in the private and public sector.
Why is it important that Norway should think about the bigger picture?
Norway has the largest amount of Laminaria Hyperborea apparently in the world – as i mentioned at the meeting it removes approximately 480 tons of nitrogen per 20 square kilometres (our marine biologists kept on pointing out that there is over 50 million tons on the Norwegian coast – nearly 6,000 square kilometres – however no one at the meeting, in spite of frequent requests from many present – could tell us how they arrived at this figure)– harvesting it, disturbing it over such a wide area is going to have an effect – particularly as the gulf stream runs alongside the coast. (how do i know this?? http://www.thecrownestate.co.uk/media/358662/initial_environmental_consideration_of_large-scale_seaweed_farming.pdf Sure you have to read quite a bit to find it, but its there alright) That means that well over 100,000 tons of nitrogen are removed annually from the sea by just our seaweed – worldwide seaweed binds over 30 million tons of co2
Day one of the meeting was mainly about fish populations being affected by taretråling – apparently very little.
Svein Håkon Lorentsen presented more work on the negative impact of taretråling on skarv or cormorants – apparently it is considerable and it also effects the eggs there not being enough food – i have written to Mr Lorentsen concerning the Thiamine issue and sent links to the main document, but received no reply
- i was unable to ask him about this at the conference but in the end it did not really matter – later in the meeting it became apparent why!
- Reading this should set off alarm bells – it certainly did with me.
- I have contacted many organizations such as the uk RSPB the Norwegian ornitologisk institut and marine protection groups concerning this – a great deafening silence is the result but i know the documents are being read.
My colleague Johan had several pertinent questions and points to make – one in particular about the law being changed on the proximity of taretråwlers to long term and well known lobster and crabbing areas – the old law states that no trawling is allowed within 1 nautical mile of any well known areas – that has been changed so now they can trawl for seaweed where they like. In fact one of the fishermen present said he had seen taretrawlers take up lobster and crab pots, put them on deck and replace them after they had finished. This is information which is kept well away from public scrutiny.
Another item was on the Tracking of taretrawlers with ais and other systems. Many Environmental organizations tell us they have spent a lot of time gathering information on the activities of the trawlers saying they have eyewitness accounts of them trawling out of the areas they are officially allowed to use, including wildlife reservations – so far stopptt is the only organization that has produced a prosecution as Johan was very careful to point out. He also pointed out that the system is a shambles and open for abuse.
Mr O.D. Kvilhaug from FMC biopolymers was able to say that next year all the boats will be fitted with trackers. This is excellent news – it means that they are sensitive to public opinion and that pressure has worked.