• Short Summary

    Tonsberg, nearly 100 miles (150 kilometres) south of Oslo along the Oslo fjord, is the oldest town in Norway.

  • Description

    Tonsberg, nearly 100 miles (150 kilometres) south of Oslo along the Oslo fjord, is the oldest town in Norway. This year it celebrates its 1,100th anniversary. But the Common Market debate has centred attention on another aspect of the town. Over the last decade Tonsberg has successfully made the transition from the traditional fishing and whaling occupations of the region to industry and shipbuilding. This same transition may be forced upon many areas of Norway if it enters the European Common Market under the present fishing and farming regulations.

    The fear on Norwegians is that membership of the Common Market would lead to impossible competition for fishermen and farmers, and these would leave their homes for jobs in the city. Rural depopulation -- the fear of all sparsely populated land -- would concentrate the entire population around a few centres of industry, leaving other regions barren and empty.

    The town of Tonsberg reflects the essence of the Common Market debate in Norway. The change can be made. But should it be necessary? Pointing out that few areas outside the Oslo region hare the natural advantages of Tonsberg, anti-Marketeers in Norway predict a grim future for large parts of the country if the Common Market fishing and farming regulations are not changed. And pro-Marketeers agree with them.

    SYNOPSIS: Tonsberg - the oldest town in Norway, it lies nearly one hundred miles south of Oslo along the Oslo fjord. Until only three years ago, the area was a main centre of the important Norwegian whaling industry. As it celebrates its 1,100th anniversary, this statue is about all that remains as a sign of the past. The whaling and fishing industries have died out completely. The main occupation now is shipbuilding.

    The transition from whaling and fishing to shipbuilding and industry as the main occupation ended only two years ago. Now, unused fishing boats lie idle. The reason: whales are in danger of extinction. But the same change in the way of life may be forced on other parts of Norway if it enters the European Common Market under the present fishing and farming regulations. For large areas, fishing boats would belong to the past.

    The many pleasure boats in this old whaling town bear witness to the success with which Tonsberg has made the change. The question in Norway is...can areas on the coast and in the north have similar success?....and should they have to change their way of life?
    Many Norwegians fear that whole areas would be depopulated as small fishermen and farmers, beaten by Common Market competition, drift to jobs in the towns. Both pro-Marketeers and anti-Marketeers in Norway point to this danger. The attraction of secure jobs in the town is not lost on Norway's fishermen and farmers...many of whom stand to lose their livelihood if their subsidies from the Norwegian government are taken away, and their fishing waters shared with Common Market fishermen. They may follow the path of their countrymen in Tonsberg. And the mentality of the people changes.

    As fishermen and whalers, the people of Tonsberg worked all the night if they had to. Now, at the stroke of four o'clock, the new workers stream out of the factories and the shipbuilding yards. And they have a secure wage. In spite of serious attempts by the government to give the small farmers and fishermen of the north equal earnings as industrial workers, most of them earn well below the ex-fishermen working in industry in the south. Unless Norway enters the Common Market with special arrangements for her fishermen and farmers, Tonsberg will be an unwelcome example for the rest of Norway.

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    Reuters - Including Visnews
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