Fined for having disturbed polar bears

Two guides in a French shipping company have been fined NOK 20,000 each for seeking out and disturbing polar bears.

Published 7/1/2024

It was on Sunday 23 June in Mosselbukta in the north of Svalbard that the two guides drove rubber boats with paying guests towards land, where a polar bear and her cub were eating on a whale carcass. Both animals were disturbed and withdrew from the place where they had found food.

The Governor believes that criminal guilt in this case can be proven beyond any reasonable doubt and has imposed a fine of NOK 20,000 on both guides each for having broken Section 30 of the Svalbard Environment Act, which states that it is forbidden to entice, stalk or by other active action seek out polar bears so that they are disturbed or there may be a danger to people or polar bears.

The size of the fine is based on previous practice and at the same time reflects the seriousness of the case, says Governor Lars Fause.

- Given climate change, with less sea ice and increasing problems for the ice-dependent species, the Governor will also in the future have a high focus on unnecessary disturbance of polar bears, says Fause.

If the fines are not accepted, the case will be forwarded to Nord-Troms District Court.