March news – ILO suspended, community tours begin, plans for the spring made

Chukchi nomadic Turvaurgin in reindeer separation, Winter 2005. Photo: Snowchange

Chukchi nomadic Turvaurgin in reindeer separation, Winter 2005. Photo: Snowchange

Since mid-February the community work in Snowchange has increased towards the spring.

Between 27th February and 6th March, visits were made:

- Swedish-Finnish Border River Commission, Torneå: Discussions on a renewed focus on cultural fisheries of the catchment area

- Rovaniemi to discuss restoration of spawning beds for trouts and salmon in the sub-catchment area of Vainosjoki, which is a part of the Näätämö watershed with the state authorities

- Dialogue sessions with the Maasai from Loliondo, Tanzania on aspects of land use cooperation for 2015 and beyond.

- Skolt Saami meetings in Keväjärvi and Sevettijärvi to discuss work plans for the 2015 in the frame of the co-management activities this year.

Then in early March, 2015 commercial harvests of winter seining continued in Puruvesi, North Karelia. Tero Mustonen was chosen as the head of the Fishing Station at Kesälahti, to represent the winter seiners in national and international issues.

Domestically, restoration activities in lake Kuivasjärvi and river Jukajoki catchment areas remain in focus as new round of funding for a new project to create wetland units and other restoration activities is underway. Negotiations with the Metsähallitus on the status and future of Ostola lot continue, with expected results towards early April.

Internationally, Snowchange has coordinated activities for the community-monitoring activities along the Ponoi river, Murmansk region, Russia. We will participate in high-level climate summit in India in March, 2015, with more information made available towards summer.

Lastly, the Government of Finland fails to ratify the ILO 169 – Saami organisations have been called to urgent meeting on monday, 16th March, 2015.

Despite eight years of negotiations between the Saami Parliament and the Government of Finland, the Parliament did not ratify the ILO 169 convention today. Last minute attempts to influence the Parliament failed.

The acting Saami Parliament President, mrs. Tiina Sanila-Aikio, summarized that the decision is greatly damaging to the relations between the Saami and the state.

Saami feel betrayed, she added. Relations between the state and the Saami have reached all time low, and ’significant statement, significant sign of trust’ is needed urgently to restore trust, negotiations and relations between the two parties. International pressure will mount early in the week as the UN Permanent Forum is paying special attention to the developing situation.

Snowchange Cooperative is currentlu closely involved in high-level negotiations attempt, after the ILO 169 decision, between the government and the Saami to break the impasse.

Situation remains tense and without easy solutions. Future updates to follow.

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