Arctic News Roundup: 26 April – 2 May

[Photo by Marc Lanteigne]

by Mingming Shi

1) As RÚV reported, the discovery of micro-plastics within Vatnajökull, the biggest glacier in Europe, in Iceland, has been confirmed, based on latest research. The Hofsjökull glacier in the country was also found to contain microscopic plastic debris. Einar Jón Ásbjörnsson, one of the scientists behind the study, noted that the source of the contamination has not been fully ascertained.

2) The German Arctic Office, in conjunction with the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven, published a fact sheet entitled ‘Tourism in Polar Regions’ [pdf]. The document contains answers to several commonly asked questions regarding the tourism sector in both Arctic and Antarctic regions, with explanations about differences in industry regulations between the two regions, various tourism activities, environmental and societal impacts of the industry, and predictions for the future of polar tourism.

3) According to The, the language test which accompanies citizenship applications in Norway will be more challenging, with the minimum Norwegian language competency level raised from A2 to B1, using the the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. However, the new regulations will not come into force immediately.

4) Specialists on Arctic affairs from both Estonia and the United States participated in a webinar [video], organised by the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which focused on the roles of Estonia in promoting regional cooperation. The speakers shared their comments on the questions of far northern climate change and regional sustainable development. Tallinn has applied to become a formal observer government in the Arctic Council this year.

5) The question of whether the Arctic requires a pan-regional regime to regulate the emerging area of Arctic Ocean fishing was addressed in a piece by the Arctic Institute written by Dr Ekaterina Uryupova. the article explained that while there has been significant regional movement in addressing the question of sustainable Arctic fishing, including the 2018 Central Arctic Ocean Fisheries Agreement, further cooperation and standardisation was necessary, given that more of the ocean is opening up to various potential fishing activities.