Working on the management plan for the Norwegian Sea

03/12/2008 A comprehensive management plan will be a good tool for sustainable management of the Norwegian Sea in the future. The Ministry of the Environment plans to submit a White Paper on this topic in the spring of 2009.

In Storting White Paper No. 8 (2005-2006), Comprehensive management of the marine environment in the Barents Sea and the Waters off Lofoten (the Comprehensive Management Plan), the Government indicated that that the plan would constitute a point of departure for work on comprehensive management plans for other Norwegian maritime areas. Through this comprehensive management plan, the Storting has endorsed this objective.

The comprehensive management plan for the Norwegian Sea covers the area outside the baseline in the Norwegian economic zone from Stad 62°N and northwards to about 80°N, as well as the fishery zones near Jan Mayen and ”the Loophole”.

The plan will lay out the framework for commercial activity so that the cumulative effect does not exceed a critical level for the environment.

In February 2007, when work started on the comprehensive management plan, then Minister of the Environment Helen Bjørnøy said that ”comprehensive management plans for maritime areas provide clear and predictable frameworks for commercial activity. At the same time, they ensure good protection of the environment. The comprehensive management plan for the Barents Sea proves that this is possible.”

The state of the environment in the Norwegian Sea is considered to be relatively good and stabile. The Norwegian Sea is a rich maritime area with important and bustling industries. A comprehensive management plan will be a good tool for sustainable management of the Norwegian Sea in the years to come.

By utilising the experience gained from work in the Barents Sea, the Norwegian model for comprehensive management of the marine environment can be further developed.

The comprehensive management plan for the Norwegian Sea entails:

  • A program for individual sector studies, including public consultation
  • Joint factual basis and description of status
  • Proposed indicators, reference values and limit values for measures

Four sector-specific studies of the consequences/impact of activities have been implemented as part of the basis for the comprehensive management plan:

  • Petroleum activities and other offshore energy forms
  • Fisheries
  • Ship traffic
  • External impact

The work on the comprehensive management plan for the Norwegian Sea started in the spring of 2007. A steering group led by the Ministry of the Environment and with representatives from the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development and the Ministry of Finance is coordinating the work on the plan.

The Steering Group appointed an expert group to prepare the technical basis for the plan. The expert group is composed of representatives of the Directorate for Nature Management (chair), the Directorate of Fisheries, the Institute of Marine Research, the Norwegian Coastal Administration, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway, the Norwegian Maritime Directorate, the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority and the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority.

The North Sea
In parallel with the Norwegian Sea process, Norway will be a driving force in the work to develop a basis for comprehensive management of the North Sea, where the condition of the environment is "relatively poor and the development in the ecosystem is uncertain", according to the Ministry of the Environment.

Changes in sea temperature and the spread of fish and plankton, decline in seabird populations, diminished recruitment to fish population, links between fish and seabird populations, in addition to the immigration of new species, are all topics where there is considerable uncertainty in the North Sea.

Updated: 04/09/2009