Norwegian fisherman speaks out about oil industry

Norwegian fisherman Bjørnar Nicolaisen has spoken out about the negative impact of the oil industry on his livelihood.

Norwegian fisherman Bjørnar Nicolaisen has spoken out about the negative impact of the oil industry on his livelihood.

Norwegian commercial fisherman Bjørnar Nicolaisen has spoken out about the negative impacts of the oil industry on his livelihood.

The group Oil Free Seas – Australia has picked up on his appeal posting a video of Mr Nicolaisen on its Facebook page.

Kangaroo Island based environmental campaigner Linda Irwin-Oak urged everyone to watch the video.

“If you have any doubts at all about the company Statoil/Equinor drilling in the Great Australian Bight, then this will make your mind up 100 per cent,” Ms Irwin-Oak said. “Statoil is not to be trusted and this plea is from a man that has fought and won a battle against the oil giant on his home grounds.”

Mr Nicolaisen lives on Andøya, the northernmost island in the Vesterålen archipelago, situated about 300 kilometres inside the Arctic circle.

“The capitol on Andoeya is Andenes and that's where I have my boat and deliver the catches,” he told The Islander.

“I most of the time do jigging, using machines. The main fishery here is the cod fishing wintertime from January to April and fishing for saith, similar to pollack, the rest of the year.

“But here are also rich fisheries based on haddock and Greenland halibut.”

Mr Nicolaisen alleges Statoil was “very much in front” when the Norwegian government decided to carry out so-called "pre-surveys" on his fishing grounds in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

“The decision was taken after the majority of local mayors went down to Oslo and begged on their knees for the pre-surveys,” he said/

“Statoil/Equinor had at that time been in contact with the mayors for many years.

“This was discovered during a TV-program on the Norwegian state channel NRK in 2008.

“When the "pre-surveys" started up the fish, saithe, just disappeared and it didn't return before six years after the last year of blastings.

“Lucky for us the blastings only took place summertime from May to September, otherwise they may have destroyed our main livelihood - the cod fishery.

“’Seismic blastings are an  important and continuous part of the oil industry’ head of the Norwegian Petroleum directory Bente Nyland stated on Andenes in 2007.

“This actually means that the blastings are being done as long as the oil industry is there.

“This was a shock for us fishermen. We thought the blastings only were needed in front of the drillings. And that’s the main reason why fisheries can't survive oil drillings.

“But there are lots of other negative effects on the environment connected to our seas we so much depend on.

“We know that the blastings scare fish species' on very long distances.

“Actually the noise from seismic ‘surveys’ have been recorded at distances way longer than 170 nautical miles here in Norway.

“In 2007 I just had bought my fishing boat. I had two choices - sell or fight. I chose the last and realized this is going to take the rest of my life and ‘you can not do this alone’.

“The most  important thing I do is inspiring the youth and connect with coastal communities around the world to compare and share info about the oil industry. And provide support.

“I do this as a private person and commercial fisherman and have no economic supply from anybody.”

Statoil/Equinor meanwhile has said it will only drill and conduct surveys in the Bight if it is safe to do so.