The Norwegian Government aims to strengthen Norway’s sovereignty and ensure sustainable management of the rich fish and petroleum resources in the High North. We will protect the environment, maintain settlement and encourage industrial development in the region, in cooperation with Russia and other partners.
The High North is home to magnificent scenery and rich seas and the last large wilderness areas in our part of world. At the same time, the environment in the north is under serious pressure from greenhouse gas emissions and long-range pollution, as well as from the growing economic activity in the region, including exploitation of resources and maritime and other transport.
The Government’s ambition is that Norway will be at the forefront of efforts to protect the environment in the north. Proactive efforts at both national and international level will be needed to limit man-made climate change and long-range pollution. At the same time, we also need to set stringent environmental standards for our activities both on land and at sea. And we must implement measures to ensure that valuable and vulnerable habitats are given the protection they need.
The energy resources in the Arctic may make an important contribution to the world’s energy supply in the long term. For example, the Barents Sea is an emerging European petroleum province.
At the same time it is vital to protect the vulnerable marine environment. We must ensure that the fisheries, maritime transport and the oil and gas industry can coexist in an environmentally sound way. This again means that the authorities must set an appropriate framework for these activities.
Coordinated efforts by the authorities and the business sector will be needed to develop policy, technology, systems and knowledge that ensure that safe and sustainable petroleum operations in the Arctic region. The further development of our knowledge base, further research in relevant areas and close cooperation between countries and companies will be key factors in achieving this.
Living marine resources
The northern seas contain huge resources. More than 30 000 people in Norway are employed in the fishing, aquaculture and fish processing industries. With an annual export value of well over NOK 30 billion (NOK 35.6 billion in 2006), fish and fish products constitute Norway’s second largest export industry. It is therefore of the utmost importance to Norway that its living marine resources are managed soundly and sustainably.
The areas of sea under Norwegian jurisdiction, including the fisheries protection zone around Svalbard and the fisheries zone around Jan Mayen, cover some two million square kilometres. Most of the fish stocks Norway harvests are shared with other countries, and we therefore need to cooperate on the management of these stocks. Norway has agreements with Russia and other neighbouring countries, under which we take part in regular meetings to settle management issues and the allocation of fishing quotas.