This week, the Norwegian government introduced new entry restrictions preventing foreign seasonal workers from entering the country and working during the winter fisheries season.
Local mayors fear disaster for parts of the fish industry. (Norwegian only).
“The fear of closed borders appears to be so strong it verges on business policy riot", High North News Editor-in-Chief Arne O. Holm writes in his Friday commentary.
Only self-criticism is amiss when the pandemic threatens an entire industry.
Nobody knows where the principle of precaution, warranted by the seafood industry organisations last year, went.
The worst-case scenario is already playing out – in Akutan, Alaska. The largest North American seafood processing plant with 700 workers, located on one of the Aleutian Islands, is quarantined. And the nearest hospital is hundreds of miles away.
On the bright side; Alaska has the highest rate of vaccination against Covid-19 than any of the 50 staters in the USA.
More than Corona
Corona keeps ravaging; the Norwegian government has cancelled winter exercises with allies in Northern Norway.
But it is not all about crisis everywhere. This week in the Arctic has also been about dialogue and cooperation.
Great Britain’s first-ever all-party group focusing on Greenland has taken a giant leap in building relations with its neighbor in the Arctic.
Inviting Russia in
In Alaska, local indigenous people and organizations are deeply grateful for the Biden administration’s re-introducing protection of the Bering Sea.
“We deserve to have a voice in decisions affecting our lands”, says Director of the Bering Sea Elders Group Melissa Johnson.
Iceland has managed to halt the mutant version of the virus at the border.
This week, we have also presented an interview with former Chief of the Norwegian Navy, Lars Saunes. He presents a new report about security in the High North:
“When deterrence and military posturing are more or less the only signaling that takes place in the Arctic, that may lead to an accelerating security policy challenge in the future”, Saunes says. He argues that Russia should be invited back into the Arctic security forum.
Also U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin says he worries about Russian military buildup in the Arctic, as well as Chinese intentions. Nevertheless, he also stresses that the USA and Russia have a long history of cooperation in the region and hopes that will continue.
We at High North News thank you for being with us this past week. We would love to hear about what goes on where you live!
News Editor, High North News