Garbage collection effort popular on Svalbard

Bookmark and Share

A group of Svalbard residents recently completed an annual garbage collection campaign, and had to compete for the privilege of plucking up discarded fishing nets, oil barrels, plastic bottles and other refuse off the beaches of the Arctic archipelago.

Weekly magazine A-magasinet covered the annual clean-up effort that attracted 188 applicants eager to help. Only 20 were allowed to take part in the four-day job along some of Svalbard’s remote shores.

“We’re privileged to get to see unique Svalbard nature that few other have seen,” one participant told A-magasinet. “And it’s meaningful work.”

It involved collecting garbage that’s carried to the Arctic by ocean currents, much of it apparently tossed off fishing vessels. Some of the garbage can be deadly for sea creatures and even one reindeer, who apparently got caught in a net. Only the animal’s antlers remained, tangled in the plastic netting.

The clean-up crew was organized by the local governor’s office on Svalbard (Sysselmannen) for the 11th time and won praise from environmental groups. “The less garbage on the beaches, the fewer animals and birds who suffer,” said one local official. “This should be organized on the mainland, too.”

Views and News staff