August 14, 2022

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Fisker Kim Abel Pedersen (22) fra Kjøllefjord sier det oppleves trygt å ha redningsskøyta nært.

– People have to wait for hours at sea – NRK Trams and Finnmark

– Having a lifeboat in Mehman is a safety for us fishermen. Without it, help is further away when we need it, says Pedersen.

Over the years, the rescue company has used four lifeboats in Finnmark; In Havøysund, Mehamn, Båtsfjord and Vardø.

Recently, the company decided to run the Skate RS 111 Peter Henry Van Goes in Mehman.

RS Peter Henry Van Gogh in Mehamn was inactive indefinitely.

Photo: Sebastian Winum Storvik / NRK

Now a roughly 200-kilometer weather-hardened stretch between Havøysund and Båtsfjord is without a rescue company presence. It is along the sea route between Kristiansand and Stavanger.

experienced horror

Kim Abel knows firsthand how vital it is to get help at sea when you need it.

Let’s turn back the clock to Fall 2019. The new ship owner is 19 years old. He has invested in his own fishing boat. On the way from Kjøllefjord to Honningsvåg, things go wrong.

A 19-year-old notices smoke coming from the cabin and quickly discovers it’s on fire. He and his friend are about two hours away from the mainland. And the fire cannot be extinguished.

– I called the main rescue center for Northern Norway, and a few minutes later the rescue boats were on tour in Mehmen and Havisund. In teams with Coast Guard and rescue helicopters. We were evacuated from the boat and the fire was extinguished shortly after.

– It felt good to know that help is not too far away, says the young professional fisherman.

Kim Abel Pedersen (22) is fishing in the Gjøllefjord on the boat Madelon in Bern.  He fears that safety on the coast of Finnmark will be worse when the rescue company now picks up the lifeboat at Mehman.

Kim Abel Pedersen (22) is fishing in the Gjøllefjord on the boat Madelon in Bern. On one of the first trips, things were about to go wrong when the boat caught fire.

Photo: Niclas Øfeldt

Accident area

Kim Abel’s story is one of many on Finnmark Beach. It is a region with severe weather at times and many people have lost their lives here over the years.

This year alone, there have been at least two very serious incidents along the eastern Finnmark coast.

In January, former head of the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association and local politician Reider Nilsen and his son Remy Andre Nilsen drowned outside Kamvik. Both were later recovered dead.

At the end of June, 35-year-old Oliver Žuvel ran into problems when the weather changed. He Recovered three days later. Lost, but alive.

Gone forever?

The rescue agency says they take the safety of people traveling on the coast of Finnmark seriously. Nevertheless, they have now chosen to reduce emergency preparedness in Finnmark.

On Monday, the company notified the main rescue center that the RS 111 Peter Henry Van Goes in Mehman will no longer have a crew. This is due to reallocation of the company.

– We have the opportunity to move the ship in Båtsfjord closer to Mehman and reduce the distance, says Bjørn Vidar Evjen, emergency guard of the rescue company.

– It’s not necessarily the number of boats that matters, but their location. Von Kos could be brought back into action, but it’s hard to say if and when that will happen.

Bjørn Vidar Evjen, helmsman on Odin's lifeboat

Björn Vidar Evgen, an emergency guard at the rescue agency, did not know how long RS Peter Henry van Goes would be out of action. – He says that the number of works in that area will give us the answers we need.

Photo: Bjørn Vidar Evjen

Raises the case

Fiskarlaget Nord is very concerned that the safety of fishermen in the north is now weakened.

They have now sent a letter to the Ministry of Justice and Emergency Preparedness to start planning work to strengthen emergency preparedness at sea off the coast of Finnmark.

– We are regularly contacted by fishermen and local fishing groups concerned about emergency preparedness. Now the Ministry of Justice and Emergency Management must develop a comprehensive and future plan for the region, says Roger Hansen, president of Fiskarlaget Nord.

The Ministry of Justice and Emergency Preparedness says NRK has received a letter from Fiskarlaget Nord and is working on a response. They will not answer questions until this work is done.

Oil protection
Photo: Erik Hind Svein / NRK

– Have to think anew

Kim Abel has no doubt that the RS 111 Peter Henry von Koss will soon be back in action. The safety of people at sea depends on it.

But if that doesn’t happen, he and other fishermen will have to start thinking again.

– Relate work in a new way without a lifeboat in Mehman. Fishing may be a little better than not going out alone in the field, Pedersen says.

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