By Sini Saarela
The salty sea water is splashing on my face and the boat is jumping up and down the waves. My hands are ice cold. We are in the middle of practice at sea, and it’s hard. I’m still feeling weak after being seasick for a few days, yet I’m again in a small boat, my rubber boots stuck again and the sea trying to swallow me. Why am I doing this?
A couple of days ago I had the opportunity to spend a day in the nature reserve of Bear Island in the Barents Sea. When I first saw the island from a distance it looked like a rock in the sea, covered in snow, beautiful but barren. But then I got closer, and I could see the cliffs were teeming with birds. The snow was starting to melt and some little Arctic plants were already popping up. The island turned out to be full of life. And not only now, all year around, from the dark winter months to the endless summer days.
The oil company Statoil are about to start drilling 175 kilometres from this nature reserve. If an accident happened, the oil would reach the island in less than a week. I imagined the cliffs, rocks and seabirds covered in thick black oil… It would be impossible to clean up. The brisk winds and strong currents would push the oil even further up North, to the ice edge. Look at the video below and judge for yourself. Is this really a risk we want to take? Is it really a risk we need to take? Who has the right to threaten this remote island with its incredible beauty?
Sini Saarela is a Greenpeace activist from Finland, one of the Arctic 30 who were protesting against Arctic oil drilling on Pechora Sea.