Kurt Oddekalv, the environmental campaigner who became a thorn in the side of Norway’s aquaculture industry, died after falling through ice while trying to save his daughter’s dog, it has emerged.
The accident happened on Monday afternoon while he was walking on a frozen lake near his home south of Bergen.
The family said on Facebook that he was being accompanied by the family dog, Kompis, which belonged to one of his daughters. The dog had somehow got under the ice and Oddekalv attempted to save the animal, getting into trouble in the process.
The emergency services were alerted following reports that a man had fallen into what appears to have been an ice floe.
Police discovered what they first thought was an unconscious man in the water and brought back onto land, but he was declared dead by an accompanying ambulance crew.
He was identified as 63-year-old Kurt Oddekalv, the popular but often controversial activist. He had been a prominent figure in the environmental movement for more than 40 years.
Oddekalv broke away from the Nature Conservation Association in 1993 and founded the Norwegian Environmental Protection Association, setting his sights against the country’s fish farming companies. He also directed his firepower at the energy sector.
Sometimes using TV interviews abroad, he fiercely criticised its use of certain chemicals to tackle salmon lice and demanded that all fish farms should be enclosed and built on land. Just a week or two before his death he went on Russian TV to take a swipe at the industry, describing it as “toxic”.
In 2011 he deposited a foul smelling sludge around the conference centre in Trondheim staging the big industry trade fair Aqua Nor. The stench spread throughout the entire building. Oddekalv later threatened to adopt the same tactics against the Storting, Norway’s parliament, if it did not take action.
However, his claims were always firmly rejected by the salmon companies as either untrue or over the top.
Tributes have been paid to Kurt Oddekalv by politicians on both the left and right. Norway’s centre-right prime minister Erna Solberg described his commitment as tireless and genuine, adding: “He was controversial, but there is no doubt the environmental movement has lost a clear voice.”
His children have also paid tribute to their father on social media, saying they had lost a beloved father and pledged to continue with his campaigns.