Norwegian hydropower threatens local trout species

A species of trout that his lived in the Bandak lake in Norway’s Telemark county since the Ice Age is under threat due to development.

Norwegian hydropower threatens local trout species
Norway's Bandak lake. Photo: Marianne Løvland / Scanpix

Fishing enthusiasts have called for Norway’s state hydropower company Statkraft to build underwater steps to prevent the animal from disappearing from the lake, reports NRK.

“We don’t have time to wait for new reports. Action must be taken to save the trout now,” Tokke Municipality spokesperson Jarand Felland told NRK.

The rare species of the fish, described as “unique” by enthusiasts, has attracted recreational fishermen to the lake for over 100 years, according to the report.

Trout weighing up to 15 kilograms have been caught in the waters in the past – but few such examples remain, with estimates putting numbers between 55 and 120.

“The problem is that the development of hydropower in the 1960s has made the waterfall so high that the fish cannot get over it like they did in the past,” Felland said.

Old photographs of the lake show its waterfall flowing into the lake as having doubled in size, according to NRK’s report.

That also makes it more difficult for the fish to breed in the lake.

Felland told NRK that Tokke Municipality hopes that a step can be built into the waterfall, allowing the fish to pass over it.

“We want to build a fish step so that the trout can get over the high waterfall, while keeping water flow into the Tokkeåi waters at a level that will maintain good breeding conditions there,” he said.

The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate will now assess the issue.

Should the agency conclude that development at the lake is responsible for the threat to the fish, Statkraft will be required to install the step, reports NRK.

READ ALSO: Mammoth projects to make Norway's fish farms eco-friendly


Norway rules out 2022 oil licences in unexplored areas

Norway will not grant new oil exploration licences in virgin or little-explored areas in 2022 under a political compromise on Monday that hands a modest  victory to opponents of fossil fuels.

Norway rules out 2022 oil licences in unexplored areas
A photo taken on August 30, 2021 shows the Petroleum Museum in Stavanger, Norway, built to show the history of Norway's oil exploration. Norway is the largest producer of hydrocarbons in Western Europe. In the face of the climate emergency, voices are being raised to abandon fossil fuels for good. Petter BERNTSEN / AFP

The Scandinavian country’s governing centre-left coalition supports continuing oil and gas activities but does not have a parliamentary majority, making it reliant on socialist MPs who prioritise green issues.

As part of a compromise on the draft 2022 budget, three parties agreed on Monday that Norway — Western Europe’s largest hydrocarbon producer — would not hold a 26th so-called “ordinary” concession round next year.

This mechanism has allowed oil companies to apply for exploration in previously unexplored areas of the Norwegian continental shelf since 1965.

But the deal does not rule out awarding oil licences in already heavily exploited areas.

Since the North Sea has been extensively explored, the agreement mainly concerns the Barents Sea in the Arctic

The oil industry was a major issue in legislative elections in September, indicating Norway’s growing difficulties in reconciling environmental concerns with exploiting energy resources.

In the 25th concession round in early 2021, only seven oil companies, including Equinor, Shell and Lundin, applied — the lowest number since at least 1978 according to local media.