From top to bottom

15/06/2007 Work on the environment is an important part of the NPD’s duties. Now its database is being used to help improve know-how about Norwegian coastal and sea areas.

text: Ina Gundersen / photos: Mareano

This knowledge-sharing forms part of the Mareano and Seapop programmes, which are intended to learn more about bottom conditions and bird life respectively.

With their focus on the Nordland VII and Troms II areas of the Norwegian Sea, they relate to the unified management plan for these waters.

Seapop will map seabirds in such areas as the Lofoten and Vesterålen islands, while Mareano is primarily concerned with studying bottom conditions in the same regions of the NCS.

Illustration of Sun star, Saithe and Puffin


Knowledge of seabed topography, environment and resources off the Norwegian mainland is deficient today, despite the presence of important national resources.

Mareano is intended to remedy this, explains geologist Jan Stenløkk, who represents the NPD in the programme together with Jørgen Bratting.

“The aim is to provide a portal to knowledge of the marine environment, and the information will be available to everyone interested – not least over the internet.

“That involves mapping ocean currents, spawning grounds, topography and seabed biology, with physical measurements across huge areas. The NPD has so far contributed such elements as depth data from seismic surveys.”

Mareano is a collaboration between a number of institutions, including the Norwegian Geological Survey and the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research as well as the NPD.

In addition come the Norwegian Hydrographic Office, the Defence Research Institute, the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority, the Directorate of Nature Management, the Norwegian Polar Institute and the Directorate of Fisheries.

Mareano’s main objective is to map depth conditions, biological diversity, basic details of pollution and seabed geology.

The NPD’s contribution is to provide petroleum-related data about fields and licences as well as its seismic maps, all of which can be found on the directorate’s website at

This information will also be made available on the Mareano website, Mr Stenløkk explains. The programme provides an overview and is open to all, which accords with the NPD’s tradition of accessible factual data.

“We’ll also push to include other relevant map data on such subjects as fisheries and areas given priority by the petroleum sector,” says Mr Stenløkk. “We’ll be involved in a network with other specialists and institutions.”

Also required by the management plan, the seabird population management and petroleum operations (Seapop) programme is part of wider national effort to learn more about this topic.

It is financed by the Norwegian Oil Industry Association, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy (MPE).

Administration of the programme is provided by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research together with the Norwegian Polar Institute, and the NPD represents the MPE.

“We need to know more about the seabird population and fluctuations in their numbers,” explains Mr Stenløkk. “The aim is to achieve a long-term monitoring of stocks.

“Seabirds are a key ecological group because they eat fish and sit at the top of the food chain, which means in turn that possible environmental toxins accumulate in them.

“Another consideration is that any reduction in fish stocks will have consequences for the number of seabirds. Increased knowledge of natural variations in bird populations also makes it possible to learn more about in the impact of a possible oil spill.”


Updated: 14/12/2009