IS NORWAY BURNING?
- Whaler sinks, plant destroyed
On the night of Tuesday, December 11, one of Norway’s whale meat
plants was destroyed in a fire.
The Norwegian whaling fleet used the Olavsen brothers Lofoten
plant as a transit hub, where the meat from newly slain whales
would be delivered, processed and distributed throughout the
country. The plant had recently expanded. Both the old and new
buildings were destroyed in the blaze, which resulted in damages
estimated at $30 million kroner
Five days earlier, the whaler Nehella burned and sank at the dock
in Lofoten, incurring a loss of US$300,000.
Jan Olavsen was attending a meeting of the Norwegian Small Whaling
Union at the time his processing plant burned down. Olavsen took
over leadership of the Union from Steinar Bastesen, Norway’s
“Man with the Golden Harpoon” and most visible public champion
of whale hunting, who was elected to the Norwegian parliament in
1997. Bastesen was recently hospitalized after suffering a series
of strokes, and is in a coma. Doctors say he is not expected to
recover his faculties.
Norwegian police say they have not yet determined the cause of the
two fires. Rune Frovik, spokesman for the whaling lobby group High
North Alliance, previously helmed by Jan Olavsen, called the
timing of the two fires “very suspicious.”
The Olavsens are the owners of Nybræna, the whaler scuttled by
Sea Shepherd agents in Lofoten over Christmas 1992, for which
Norway sought in vain to extradite and jail Sea Shepherd founder
Paul Watson. The Nybræna, subsequently re-floated, was damaged on
Tuesday when the fire at the Olavsen processing plant spread to
the dock where it was
Norway killed 549 minke whales this year, in defiance of the
global moratorium on commercial whaling. On December 10, an
article in the Norwegian daily Aftenfposten quoted Frovik as
saying the North Atlantic minke whale population could sustain a
hunt of 2,500 whales per year, with an additional 200 fin, sei,
and sperm whales thrown in to achieve an potential export value of
1.5 billion kroner in trade with Japan.
In January, Norway announced it would lift the ban on whale
product exports, but it has yet to resume international trade in
2/27/00: Norwegian whaler blows up
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