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Salmon industry critic dies after walking through ice

Kurt Oddekalv is interviewed for TV aboard the Norwegian Environmental Protection Organisation's vessel, Miljødronningen, in 2016.
Kurt Oddekalv is interviewed for TV aboard the Norwegian Environmental Protection Organisation's vessel, Miljødronningen, in 2016.

One of the Norwegian aquaculture industry’s most vocal critics, Kurt Oddekalv, died on Monday after walking through the ice near his home on Kalandseid outside Bergen.

Police received a report at 4.45pm yesterday from a person who had observed tracks out on the ice on Bahusvatnet in Hausdalen in Fana. The tracks ended at a crack in the ice, Fish Farming Expert’s Norwegian sister site, Kyst.no, reported.

Emergency services including the air ambulance and divers attended the scene and at 5.44pm police confirmed that a body had been found in the water.  Police later issued a press release stating that the dead man was Kurt Willy Oddekalv, 63.

Committed and controversial 

In a test message to news outlet VG, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said: “It was a very sad message to receive. I want to send my condolences to the family. Kurten was a clear environmentalist who spoke out so everyone heard it, and I have had many discussions with him for over 30 years. 

“His commitment was genuine, and he worked tirelessly for the causes and ideas he believed in. Oddekalv was controversial, but there is no doubt that the environmental movement has lost a clear voice.”

Kurt Oddekalv with a sample of the sludge he distributed at Aqua Nor in 2011. Oddekalv called the stench
Kurt Oddekalv with a sample of the sludge he distributed at Aqua Nor in 2011. Oddekalv called the stench "the smell of money".

Sludge stunt

Oddekalv was known to most in the aquaculture industry as a fierce critic, who by using media campaigns, not least abroad, wanted to force the industry into closed systems. He was particularly opposed to the use of teflubenzuron as a lice repellent.

His actions included depositing foul-smelling sludge in several areas of the world’s biggest aquaculture trade fair, Aqua Nor, at Trondheim in 2011. He said the material was collected from a Lerøy facility in Hordaland.

Oddekalv was leader of the Norwegian Environmental Protection Organisation (Norges Miljøvern Forbund), an environmental NGO he founded more than 30 years ago.

Brain haemorrhage

In 2016 Oddekalv suffered a brain haemorrhage as a result of high blood pressure over a long period of time. The brain bleed happened during a cruise in which Oddekalv intended to investigate the condition of the seabed beneath salmon cages.

Oddekalv’s illness led him to lay off staff at his organisation, reported state media outlet NRK at the time.

“It has made me a little slower than usual, I walk a little slower, speak more slowly and so on. I was reported sick as soon as the doctors found out. And when I’m not in shape, the organisation is not in great shape either,” Oddekalv told NRK.