Securing the marine environment for the future

Norway controls maritime zones that are six times larger than its land area. To ensure sustainable management of the sea, the Government has drawn up comprehensive, ecosystem-based management plans for the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea. Work is underway on a plan for the North Sea.

The objective of such plans is to lay a framework for commercial activity in the area so that the overall impact does not exceed a critical level for the environment.

The first comprehensive management plan, which comprised the Barents Sea and the waters off Lofoten, was submitted to the Storting in the spring of 2006. The plan will be revised in 2010.

The next comprehensive marine management plan addressed the Norwegian Sea – an area comprising no less than 1.1 million square kilometres, more than twice the size of the North Sea and about three times larger than the Norwegian mainland. The work on this plan started in the spring of 2007. It was submitted to the Storting on 8 May and approved on 18 June 2009.

The management plan for the Norwegian Sea comprises the areas outside the baseline in the Norwegian economic zone from Stad 62oN and northwards to about 80oN, as well as the Fishery Zone near Jan Mayen and “the Banana Hole”. 
The plan lays out the general framework for new and existing activity in the area, and describes how fisheries, sea transport and petroleum activities can coexist.

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) was a member of the expert group that supplied factual data for the plan in the sectoral study of petroleum activity and other energy forms offshore. The NPD has, among other things, prepared a description of Norway's petroleum activity anno 2006 and a projection of what the industry might be like in 2025.

Expert forums follow up the development in knowledge and information, and the recommendations in the plans. One expert group, led by the Directorate for Nature Management, will follow up the comprehensive management plan for the Norwegian Sea, while the Norwegian Polar Institute will lead the follow-up of the Barents Sea – Lofoten plan. In addition come advisory groups for monitoring and risk. One of the tasks of these groups is to measure the long-term environmental impact on selected animal and bird species. Another task is to estimate and monitor the risk of acute pollution.

The plan for the Norwegian Sea will be revised in 2014.

The NPD is also involved in the work on a comprehensive management plan for the North Sea, which started in April 2008 and is slated for completion between 2011 and 2013.

Topics: Environment