Double Life

24 04 2013

The Norwegian vessel, the Havsel experienced engine trouble and was at dock in Ísafjörður. We met the crew in town and they invited us on board. They showed us videos of the seal hunt AND documentaries filmed from the vessel. Who would have thought the boat that infuriates environmentalists also produces the films that inspire them!

The Havsel is distinct because of the crows nest used for spotting seals.

The Havsel is distinct because of the crows nest used for spotting seals.

The captain is from northern Norway, and has taken part in the seal hunt for 40 years. He told us that in the 1970s, around 40 Norwegian boats took part. A few decades before that, 70 to 80 boats set out every year. People in Tromsø would line up to buy the seal meat in old times. To Norwegians, the meat is a delicacy.

The killing takes place with record speed. In 9 days they had already killed 1600 seals.

The killing takes place with record speed. In 9 days they had already killed 1600 seals.

As a result of population concerns, Norway’s seal hunt is now controlled by quotas based on recommendations from International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), However, sealing in Norway has declined in recent years, and the quotas have not been reached.Norway had a quota of 30,000 seals this year. Usually the catch is 20% of this number and the seal population is quite strong. But now the market for both seal and whale meat has declined markedly. Demand for seal oil is up, but the future is uncertain.

The guys showed us this film about polar bears from the BBC. They also had Frozen Planet crews, history crews, and other filmmakers. The Havsel is an icebreaker and the crew is well trained, so it is a perfect boat to film the Arctic.

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