Sunday, November 26, 2000

Swedish Polar Ambassador visits Ross Island

Published in the Antarctic Sun

The New Zealand Antarctic Program played host to the Swedish polar ambassador, Eva Kettis, last week.

She had been in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, for a meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources and was invited to be a guest at Scott Base.

After several days on weather hold in Christchurch, Kettis arrived on the Ice for her second visit. Her first visit was to a site on the Antarctic Peninsula where a hut was built by an early Swedish Antarctic explorer, Otto Nordenskjold, in 1901.

Sweden, which signed the Antarctic Treaty in 1984, maintains two small summer-only camps in Queen Maud Land and cooperates with Finland and Norway in areas of logistics and operations.

“We have subscribed totally to the Antarctic Treaty goals,” Kettis said.

While she is the ambassador for both polar regions, Kettis said she concentrates most of her
effort on the Arctic. “That’s perhaps nearer to our heart,” Kettis said.

She works with the Arctic Council, a group that includes the eight countries that border the Arctic and several groups of Arctic indigenous people. “That is quite unusual for intergovernmental cooperation,” Kettis said.

The political issues, she said, are very different in the north and south polar regions. For example, since the Arctic is largely ocean, no country can make territorial claims. Research,
on the other hand, is similar in the two areas.

“The science has a clear bipolar aspect,” Kettis said. “I think it has not only polar aspects but global aspects.”

On her trip to the Ice, she visited Ross Island’s historic huts, various field camp locations around the Ross Sea and in the Dry Valleys, and visited McMurdo, where she was particularly
impressed by the mawsonii in the old aquarium.

“I never thought I would see a big toothfish,” Kettis said.

As well, she toured Scott Base and liked what she saw. “They are very well equipped and it
works very well,” Kettis said.

She was unable to leave on schedule because of the weather, which frustrated her a bit, but Kettis said she was glad to be able to see this part of “this huge and beautiful continent.”