Arcticportal News
Nordic Prime Ministers' Meeting in Akureyri
Shipping News
Written by Federica   
Tuesday, 27 May 2014 10:41

Lake of Myvatn (source: Gettyimage)

Yesterday, 26th May, prime Ministers of Denmark, Sweden , Finland and Norway arrived in Akureyri to meet with the Prime Minister of Iceland in occasion of the annual summit of the Nordic Prime Ministers. After a brief tour of Dimmuborgir and the lake of Myvatn, the Ministers discussed about cooperation of the five partner countries, but also about the situation in Ukraine and other issues regarding Europe. 

Today, the leaders of the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland will enjoy  to the group for a joint summit to be held in Hof, the Cultural and Conference Centre of Akureyri. 

The group will take some time off their schedule for a brief meeting at the University of Akureyri, chaired by  Dr. Sigurður Kristinsson.

Dr. Stefán B. Sigurðsson, Rector of the University of Akureyri, will welcome the attandants, and the group, along with other representatives of the Nordic countries will discuss with local stakeholders and participants about Environment (Tom Barry, CAFF), Research (Ms. Embla Eir Oddsdóttir, Director, Icelandic Arctic Cooperation Network), Business (Mr. Þorvaldur Lúðvík Sigurjónsson, Director, the Eyjafjörður Regional Development Agency and Arctic Service), Tourism (Ms. Helga Árnadóttir, Director, the Icelandic Travel Industry Association, Mr. Edward Huijbens, Icelandic Tourism Research Centre), and Information (Mr. Halldór Jóhannsson, Director, Arctic Portal).

The meeting will be concluded by the Mayor of the town of Akureyri, Mr. Eiríkur Björn Björgvinsson.


For more information (in Icelandic): click here.

WTO: EU seal ban "necessary to protect public morals".
Shipping News
Written by Federica   
Monday, 26 May 2014 11:30

Seal (source: Gettyimage)

On 22 May 2014,  the highest judicial tribunal of the World Trade Organization, WTO, the Appellate Body, released its final ruling on the longstanding "seal case". While having found that the EU ban "constitutes a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination", violating therefore WTO rules, the Appellate Body upheld the Panel's finding that the EU Seal Regime is “necessary to protect public morals”.


Back in 2009, following years of lively debates with Canada, the EU eventually adopted the controversial Regulation EC 1007/2009, which banned the import into the Union of all produced derived from seals, nevertheless allowing  "the placing on the market of seal products [...] where the seal products result from hunts traditionally con­ducted by Inuit and other indigenous communities and contrib­ute to their subsistence." 


Canada, later enjoyed by Norway, challenged the ban in front of the WTO. In November 2013, the panel released a report stating that although the EU ban was undermining "fair trade", the restrictions could be justified on "public moral concerns" for animal welfare.

Both Canada and Norway, and both the EU appealed to the Appellate Body "certain issues of law and legal interpretations developed by the panel "(January 2014).


The final decision, relased on 22 May,  of the Appellate Body has triggered various reactions. 


The Harper government (Canada) released a joint statement (the Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, the Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council) to respond the WTO decision: "Canada’s position has been that the eastern and northern seal harvests are humane, sustainable and well-regulated activities that provide an important source of food and income for coastal and Inuit communities.  "The ban on seal products adopted in the European Union was a political decision that has no basis in fact or science." "We expect that the European Union will comply with the letter and spirit of the decision, and we will be closely following how it brings itself into compliance. Our government will continue to stand up for trade fairness for this important, traditional way of life.” (read the Joint statement here).


 Canadian Inuit organizations are outraged. Although the ban actually contains an "Inuit exemption", which technically allows products derived from Inuit traditional hunting to be sold into the EU; different, organizations have highlighted the impossibility to sell products in a collapsed market:

“I am morally outraged at the self-righteousness and sanctimoniousness of the EU’s claim to protect the morals of its citizens,” said Terry Audla, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), in a statement from the national Inuit organization. “Inuit live according to the principles of fairness and compassion, and we seek nothing more than to feed our families and make an honest living in the modern economy. It is morally reprehensible for anyone to impede those goals—which are the basic rights of any citizen of the world.”

On the contrary, animal lobbies, as IFAW, applaud the WTO ruling for reiterating the importance of public morality in international trade, congratulate the EU "for taking this principled stand against the inhumane slaughter of seals" , and consider "the ban backed by the most rigorous scientific and socio-economic examination of commercial seal hunts around the world ever conducted (IFAW EU Regional Director Sonja Van Tichelen).


However, the Seals & Sealing Network tried to moderate the discussions warning: "Despite widespread media reports that the World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body upheld the European Union (EU) ban on seal products yesterday, the ban has not in fact been upheld. Indeed, the WTO determined that the EU's ban is designed and applied in a manner that constitutes a "means of arbitrary and unjustifiable discrimination." The WTO has further told the EU that its ban must change - it cannot allow imports of Inuit seal products and hunting for resource management to remain valid while banning all other seal products. What the WTO has upheld is that it is possible for a nation to address animal welfare concerns by invoking public morals as a justification." and "The EU must now decide whether to ban all seal products, including those harvested by Inuit who have subsisted on seal hunting for thousands of years, and those harvested to prevent the overabundant population from getting out of control, or to revoke their political and discriminatory ban. The EU, in any event, must bring the ban into compliance with the WTO decision."(read the full answer here).


Source: WTO, CBC Canada, EUObserver

Early career opportunity in marine research
Climate Change News
Written by Magdalena Tomasik   
Friday, 23 May 2014 09:37

(Photo: Getty Images) (Photo: Getty Images)5th Early Career Scientists Conference for Marine and Climate Research will take place at the University of Bremen, 21-24 September 2014.

ECC 2014 is an interdisciplinary and international conference which, this year, focuses on the Natural and Social Aspects of the Earth System

All early career scientists working in the field of marine and climate sciences are therefore invited to join us in Bremen to present and discuss research in an interactive and innovative way.

The registration and abstract submission deadline is 1 July. There is no conference fee!


Please visit the conference website for more information and to submit your abstract.

2014 Report on Oil Spills is now available
Energy News
Written by Magdalena Tomasik   
Thursday, 22 May 2014 09:05

(Photo: Getty Images) Oil spill is a danger to fragile marine Arctic environment (Photo: Getty Images) Oil spill is a danger to fragile marine Arctic environmentThe Report Responding to Oil Spills in the U.S. Arctic Marine Environment 2014 is now available to the public.

The risk of a serious oil spill in the Arctic is escalating due to potential increases in shipping traffic and oil and gas activities. To provide an effective response effort in challenging Arctic conditions--and minimize impacts on people and sensitive ecosystems, a full range of oil spill response technologies is needed.

This report assesses the current state of science and engineering regarding oil spill response in Arctic waters and identifies key oil spill research priorities, critical data and monitoring needs, mitigation strategies, and important operational and logistical issues.

Maps developed for the report are available for download as high-quality, print-ready files.

The Report was prepared by the Committee on Responding to Oil Spills in the U.S. Arctic Marine Environment; Ocean Studies Board; Polar Research Board; Division of Life and Earth Studies; Marine Board; Transportation Research Board and National Research Council.

Click here to download the full version of the Report.

The video presented below was created as a short summary of the report.



Call for European Fellowships now available
Other News
Written by Magdalena Tomasik   
Wednesday, 21 May 2014 09:05

(Photo: Getty Images) Cartography Of The EU (Photo: Getty Images) Cartography Of The EU Call for European Fellowships – Marie Sklodowska – Curie has now been available for applications.


Individual Fellowships provide opportunities to acquire and transfer new knowledge and to work on research in a European context (EU Member States and Associated Countries) or outside Europe. The scheme particularly supports the return and reintegration of researchers from outside Europe who have previously worked here. It also develops or helps to restart the careers of individual researchers that show great potential, considering their experience.


Support is foreseen for individual, trans-national fellowships awarded to the best or most promising researchers for employment in EU Member States or Associated Countries, based on an application made jointly by the researcher and host organization in the academic or non-academic sectors.


Fellowships are either European Fellowships or Global Fellowships. European Fellowships are held in EU Member States or Associated Countries and are open to researchers currently within and outside Europe.


The deadline for applications is 11.09.2014

For more information on the fellowship, please follow the link.

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