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Meld. St. 35 (2016–2017)

Update of the integrated management plan for the Norwegian Sea

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7 Measures for the protection and sustainable use of the ecosystems of the Norwegian Sea

Value creation based on the sustainable use of marine resources is dependent on good environmental status and on species and habitat diversity in the seas and oceans. The OECD report The Ocean Economy in 2030 emphasises that in order to realise the full potential of the oceans, it is essential to ensure that they are used responsibly and sustainably. The report presents ocean-based industries and properly functioning marine ecosystems as the two equally important main elements of a model of the ocean economy. Norway’s marine policy reflects this approach through an integrated management regime that promotes both conservation and sustainable use of ecosystems.

The growing interest in emerging industries in Norway’s sea areas is especially pertinent to this update of the Norwegian Sea management plan. There is considerable potential for value creation in emerging ocean-based industries such as marine aquaculture at greater distances from the coast, seaweed and kelp cultivation, renewable energy production and seabed mining. A basic principle of the Government’s ocean strategy is to continue the development of industries where Norway has competitive advantages, and at the same time stimulate research, innovation and technology development to promote emerging industries. The management plans increase predictability and facilitate coexistence between industries that are based on the use of Norway’s sea areas and their natural resources.

The scientific basis for this update of the management plan concludes that the state of the Norwegian Sea environment is still good, and that the factors posing challenges for management of the area are the same as in 2009. The present document provides updated information on environmental status and trends and on issues it will be important to address in the management regime for the years ahead. These include the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification, marine litter, the decline in a number of seabird populations and the pollution situation.

Knowledge of the marine environment is being strengthened through mapping, monitoring and research in Norway’s waters. The Forum for Integrated Marine Management and the Advisory Group on Monitoring are continually improving the knowledge base for management of Norway’s marine areas. The Government will follow up the measures set out in the present white paper, among other things through the work of these bodies.

The 2009 management plan set out long-term goals for the management of the Norwegian Sea (see Chapter 2.4). This update of the management plan describes how the measures presented in 2009 have been implemented and assesses the need to maintain them and to introduce new measures.

7.1 A changing climate

Climate change and ocean acidification are expected to result in major changes in the structure and functioning of marine ecosystems. It will be important to identify the changes that can be expected so that appropriate adaptation measures can be implemented. Climate change and ocean acidification are additional to other pressures on the Norwegian Sea, and their growing impacts will result in more marked cumulative environmental effects on many ecosystems.

Carbon is captured and stored in marine habitats such as kelp forests and eelgrass meadows. This is an important process, like carbon uptake in forests, but knowledge about it is limited. These ‘blue forests’, as they are sometimes called, also have many important ecosystem functions, particularly relating to biodiversity, biological production and protection against erosion.

The Government will:

  • enhance knowledge of the effects of climate change and ocean acidification on marine ecosystems and how they interact with other pressures;

  • further develop monitoring of acidification and climate trends and of the impacts on vulnerable calcifying organisms such as plankton and corals;

  • build up knowledge about carbon capture and storage in marine plankton and marine vegetation types such as kelp forests and eelgrass meadows.

7.2 Spatial management and overall framework for activities

For the ocean-based industries to grow, any spatial overlap between different industries and the challenges associated with this must be properly dealt with. The management plans are a tool for spatial management of Norway’s sea areas. Sound knowledge of these areas is an essential basis for finding a balance between conservation and sustainable use across sectors.

Norway is using substantial resources to build up knowledge about the seabed. Mapping of the seabed through the MAREANO programme is expanding our knowledge of the distribution of habitat types and species, and the pressures on them as a result of human activity. The MAREANO programme has registered many new coral habitats and resulted in special protection for new areas of Norwegian waters where there are cold-water coral reefs. A number of these have been designated as marine protected areas under the Marine Resources Act. This will make it possible to improve their management and provide better protection for vulnerable habitat types.

Since the management plan for 2009 was published, spatial management measures relating to shipping along the coast have also been implemented. To improve maritime safety in the Norwegian Sea, new traffic separation schemes and recommended routes outside territorial waters have been established. These have helped to shift shipping further out from the coast, separate traffic streams in opposite directions and establish a fixed sailing pattern. This reduces the likelihood of collisions and groundings and makes it easier to intervene in the event of an accident.

7.2.1 Particularly valuable and vulnerable areas

One important feature of Norway’s marine management plans is the selection of particularly valuable and vulnerable areas. These are areas that on the basis of scientific assessments have been identified as being of great importance for biodiversity and biological production in the entire management plan area. The areas identified in the Norwegian Sea management plan area are as follows: the Remman archipelago, the Froan archipelago and Sula reef, the Møre, Halten and Sklinna banks, the Iverryggen reef, the Vestfjorden, Jan Mayen and the West Ice, the edge of the continental shelf, the Arctic front, and the coastal zone. Knowledge about the seabed in the particularly valuable and vulnerable areas of the Norwegian Sea has been improved and the value of these areas has been confirmed through the MAREANO programme.

According to the scientific basis for this update of the management plan, no new results have been obtained that give grounds for altering the delimitation of the particularly valuable and vulnerable areas, which is an important part of the framework for activities in the Norwegian Sea.

The Government will:

  • assess whether areas where there are mud volcanoes, hydrothermal vents and methane hydrates meet the criteria for designation as particularly valuable and vulnerable areas.

7.2.2 Marine protected areas

Under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (the OSPAR Convention), Norway has international commitments concerning the conservation of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Under the CBD, there is a target that by 2020, 10 % of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, will be conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures.

Norwegian implementation of the international target for conservation of coastal and marine areas was discussed in the white paper on Norway’s national biodiversity action plan. OK The scientific basis for the management plan and the list of 36 possible marine protected areas identified by a cross-sectoral advisory committee in 2004 are still the basis for work on a network of marine protected areas under the Nature Diversity Act. The Government is developing a plan for establishing more marine protected areas. As part of this work, the status of efforts to establish marine protected areas will be evaluated, and any further need for protection to achieve national and international targets will be identified.

Four marine protected areas in coastal waters and fjords adjoining the Norwegian Sea have now been established under the Nature Diversity Act, and six marine protected areas have been established under the Marine Resources Act.

The Government will:

  • draw up a plan for further work on marine protected areas;

  • continue work on the establishment of marine protected areas along the Norwegian Sea coastline.

7.2.3 Deep-sea areas

Distinctive and rare species and habitats have been found during ongoing research activities in deep-sea areas along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and near the mud volcano Håkon Mosby. It is particularly important to continue to build up knowledge through mapping and research on seabed species and habitat types in these areas. The need to protect distinctive and rare species and habitats in deep-sea areas will be assessed in this context.

The Government will:

  • improve knowledge about species and habitats in deep-sea areas;

  • assess the need to protect distinctive and rare species and habitats in deep-sea areas.

7.2.4 Seabed mining

There is expected to be growing interest in the commercial extraction of new types of minerals from the seabed in deeper-water areas. This means that legislation will be needed to provide a framework for sound resource management and safe and environmentally sound operations, and to facilitate coexistence with other activities.

The Government will:

  • propose new legislation on seabed mining.

7.2.5 Framework for petroleum activities

Knowledge of the environmental impacts of petroleum activities has been improved since the 2009 management plan was published. For example, there is now a better basis for assessing the environmental impacts of acute pollution on fish. Moreover, exploration drilling has been carried out in areas where there are coral habitats. In these areas, special conditions have been imposed to avoid damage. Reports from the operators’ monitoring programmes after drilling conclude that there has been only limited sediment deposition on corals and no visible damage to corals or other vulnerable benthic animals.

The 2009 management plan established the overall framework for petroleum activities (announcement of blocks, exploration drilling and seismic surveying). The Government considers that this framework should be retained, with the refinements and amendments listed below, until the next update of the management plan, see Figure 7.1.

Figure 7.1 Framework for petroleum activities in the Norwegian Sea.

Figure 7.1 Framework for petroleum activities in the Norwegian Sea.

Source Norwegian Environment Agency

The Møre banks:

  • The framework for petroleum activities on the Møre banks is retained unchanged. As set out in the four-party cooperation agreement for the period 2013 – 2017, the framework has not been reassessed. The Government will review the position if there is a political basis for doing so, and will if appropriate raise the matter with the Storting.

Froan archipelago and Sula reef:

  • No exploration drilling in oil-bearing formations in the breeding and moulting seasons (1 March – 31 August);

  • No exploration drilling in oil-bearing formations in the coastal zone between the Froan archipelago and Sula reef in the breeding season for grey seal (1 September – 15 November).

Sula reef:

  • New production licences must include requirements for any necessary measures to ensure that the Sula reef complex is not damaged by petroleum activities. Operators must be prepared to meet special requirements in order to avoid direct physical damage to the reefs from bottom gear and anchor chains, sediment deposition from drill cuttings and pollution from produced water (water associated with the reservoirs that is produced along with the oil or gas).

  • Given the risk-based approach of the health, safety and environment legislation, stricter requirements will apply in vulnerable areas to avoid damage.

Iverryggen reef:

  • New production licences must include requirements for any necessary measures to ensure that the Iverryggen reef complex is not damaged by petroleum activities. Operators must be prepared to meet special requirements in order to avoid direct physical damage to the reefs from bottom gear and anchor chains, sediment deposition from drill cuttings and pollution from produced water (water associated with the reservoirs that is produced along with the oil or gas).

  • Given the risk-based approach of the health, safety and environment legislation, stricter requirements will apply in vulnerable areas to avoid damage;

  • No exploration drilling in oil-bearing formations in the spawning season (1 February – 1 June.

7.2.6 Digital mapping tool for Norway’s sea areas

In autumn 2016, the first version of a digital mapping tool for Norway’s sea areas was launched. It is intended to provide integrated information on species and habitats, industrial activities, and the framework and regulatory measures for use of different areas. The digital maps will show species and habitats such as corals, kelp forest, spawning areas and seabird colonies, and industrial activities such as fisheries, shipping and petroleum activities. In addition, they will indicate areas where new activities may be developed, for example possible areas for offshore wind power development. The digital mapping tool will be important both for the authorities and for business and industry in ensuring sound management of marine areas and a good basis for planning new activities. The digital mapping tool is intended to simplify the work of updating and revising the management plans, and could ensure a more inclusive process by increasing transparency, and strengthen stakeholder participation in the work on the plans. Some other European countries have already begun to use similar tools. The digital mapping tool is being developed in close cooperation between the Forum for Integrated Marine Management and BarentsWatch, and is available via the website www.barentswatch.no.

The Government will:

  • continue to develop the digital mapping tool for the sea areas covered by the management plans.

7.3 Measures to ensure good environmental status and sustainable use

7.3.1 Protecting particularly valuable and vulnerable areas

According to the scientific basis for this update of the management plan, the target of conducting activities in particularly valuable and vulnerable areas in such a way that their ecological functioning and biodiversity are not threatened has been achieved for the Sula reef, the Iverryggen reef, the Arctic front, and Jan Mayen and the West Ice. A lack of knowledge makes it uncertain whether the target has been achieved for the Møre, Halten and Sklinna banks, the coastal zone and the edge of the continental shelf.

The Government will:

  • improve the knowledge base on the particularly valuable and vulnerable areas so that better assessments of their environmental status and progress towards targets can be made.

7.3.2 Ensuring sustainable harvesting of fish stocks

To meet Norway’s obligations and safeguard its interests as a fisheries nation, the Marine Resources Act establishes a management principle requiring the authorities to make regular evaluations of whether fisheries are biologically sound and sustainable. This requirement also applies to smaller stocks that are not included in the annual quota regulation system. It is up to the fisheries management bodies to determine which measures are most suitable. In their assessments, they must give weight to an ecosystem approach that takes into account habitats and biodiversity and is in line with the precautionary principle.

The goals for sustainable management have been achieved for most of Norway’s fish stocks. Specific management measures have been established for vulnerable stocks, for example golden redfish, blue ling and hooded seal, all of which are classified as endangered on the Norwegian Red List.

In future, there may be interest in harvesting new species and species at lower trophic levels in the food chains. Any harvesting of new species will be deferred until there is sufficient information about stock sizes and impacts on ecosystems, and will be based on a precautionary approach.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU fishing) in the Norwegian Sea has been brought under control through international efforts since the 2009 management plan was published. Inspection and enforcement measures both at sea and of international landings will be continued.

There is little regulation of fishing tourism and recreational fishing in Norway. Work is in progress on a proposal for legislative amendments and regulations relating to fishing tourism companies. The purpose of this proposal is to obtain a better overview of the resources harvested by the fishing tourism industry and facilitate tourism in coastal areas.

The Government will:

  • build up knowledge about the impacts on ecosystems of harvesting new species and harvesting at lower trophic levels;

  • continue to incorporate the principles of conservation and sustainable use into action taken to follow up the management principle set out in the Marine Resources Act;

  • adopt regulations relating to fishing tourism companies, including provisions on registration and the reporting of catches.

7.3.3 Preventing damage to benthic marine species and habitats

Coral reefs and gorgonian forests provide many important ecosystem functions, especially related to biodiversity and biological production. The species Lophelia pertusa builds some of the largest cold-water coral reef complexes that are known to exist. Norway is considered to be a core area for the species, since 30 % of all records are from Norwegian waters.

Sponges are another group of sessile benthic animals, and areas where there are sponge communities also have a rich associated fauna including fish and invertebrates.

Bottom fishing is the activity that has most impact on the vulnerable benthic fauna. Since the 2009 management plan was published, measures have been taken to reduce the impacts on coral reefs and other vulnerable benthic communities in the Norwegian Sea, among other things by establishing marine protected areas. According to plan, data on coral reefs and other vulnerable benthic fauna from the MAREANO programme, investigations carried out by commercial operators and from other sources will be collated and the information will be made available to all users of the ocean in the course of 2018. Information of this kind will make it easier for the fishing fleet to exercise caution in the vicinity of coral reefs and other vulnerable benthic fauna.

To make it possible to draw clearer conclusions about the impacts of petroleum activities on corals and sponge communities, assessment of long-term effects on these species are needed.

The Government will:

  • compile existing information on vulnerable benthic fauna and make it available to ocean users;

  • continue efforts to protect coral reefs and other vulnerable benthic fauna against the use of bottom gear, and assess the ecological relationships between protected areas;

  • facilitate the continued development of fishing gear that has less environmental impact in order to minimise impacts on the seabed.

7.3.4 Safeguarding species and habitat types

There is still a lack of knowledge about the ecological relationships between different parts of marine ecosystems and about marine habitats that are particularly important for the structure, functioning and productivity of ecosystems.

Species that are essential to the structure, functioning and productivity of ecosystems will be managed in such a way that they are able to maintain their role as key species in the ecosystem concerned. There are currently viable populations of species such as herring, mackerel, saithe and blue whiting, while the status of species such as ling, spiny dogfish, greater argentine and the coral species Lophelia pertusa and Paragorgia arborea is uncertain. Blue ling, golden redfish and hooded seal are all classified as endangered. There is a very limited research catch of hooded seals. No directed fishery for blue ling or golden redfish is permitted.

The Government will:

  • improve knowledge of the structure and functioning of marine ecosystems;

  • take the necessary steps to maintain viable populations and improve the conservation status of endangered and vulnerable species as part of the management of the Norwegian Sea.

7.3.5 Improving the situation for seabird populations

Knowledge about seabirds is being built up through the SEAPOP mapping and monitoring programme, including the SEATRACK module, which aims to map the non-breeding distribution of seabirds. Populations of a number of seabirds in the Norwegian Sea have shown a considerable decline. For the common guillemot, kittiwake and puffin, the goal that populations should be viable is considered not to have been achieved.

A national action plan for seabirds is to be drawn up, and in this connection various policy instruments and measures will be considered, including whether certain seabirds should be designated as priority species. Knowledge about mechanisms and ecological interactions in ecosystems that are important for seabird populations needs to be further developed. Work on seabirds was also discussed further in the white paper on Norway’s national biodiversity action plan.

The Government will:

  • draw up a national action plan to improve the situation for seabird populations, including an assessment of whether certain species of seabirds should be designated as priority species under the Nature Diversity Act;

  • continue to build up knowledge about seabirds through the mapping and monitoring programme for seabirds, SEAPOP.

7.3.6 Alien species

There are currently few alien species in the Norwegian Sea, but climate change and increasing maritime activity, including shipping, are increasing the risk of the spread and establishment of new alien species that may be harmful to the natural ecosystem. A number of alien species have become established along the coast, including the Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) in the northern part of Møre og Romsdal, showing that there is a potential for the spread of such species. Little is known about the occurrence and ecological effects of many alien species.

The Government will:

  • improve knowledge about the spread and impacts of alien species in Norwegian waters.

7.3.7 Reducing pollution

Monitoring shows that the pollution status of the Norwegian Sea is still generally good, even though considerable quantities of hazardous substances are transported into the areas with air and ocean currents. Releases of environmentally hazardous substances and oil from activities within the management plan area also add to the pollution load.

Concentrations of oil and environmentally hazardous substances measured in sediments and the water column are low, but certain hazardous substances bioaccumulate and are found at relatively high levels in particularly vulnerable species at the top of food chains. Studies carried out since the 2009 management plan was published show that concentrations of hazardous substances in some fish species, edible crab, seabirds and marine mammals give cause for concern. There is a lack of knowledge about new environmentally hazardous substances and about the combined impacts of different substances at population level. Continued efforts are needed to reduce inputs of oil and hazardous substances into the Norwegian Sea.

Noise pollution has been receiving growing international attention since the 2009 management plan was published. More knowledge is needed about the impacts of underwater noise in the Norwegian Sea.

The Government will:

  • improve knowledge about the sources and impacts of hazardous substances in marine organisms;

  • seek to reduce inputs of hazardous substances to the Norwegian Sea, among other things through stricter international rules on their use and release;

  • continue work on the zero-discharge targets for the oil and gas industry;

  • build up knowledge about the impacts of underwater noise on fish and marine mammals, and establish a monitoring programme for underwater noise as part of the marine management plans.

7.3.8 Safe seafood

The concentrations of contaminants in seafood are generally below the maximum permitted levels, and seafood from the Norwegian Sea is generally considered to be safe. However, there are elevated levels of certain hazardous substances in some species, and more knowledge is needed about the impacts of plastic pollution.

The Government will:

  • ensure that seafood is safe, among other things by continuing the monitoring programme for undesirable substances in seafood;

  • improve knowledge about undesirable substances and nutrient content in species that are little used or that have not previously been used for food and feedstuff production;

  • strengthen the knowledge base on the presence and effects of microplastics in the marine environment and in seafood.

7.3.9 Combating marine litter and microplastics

Marine litter, particularly plastics and microplastics, is a rapidly growing problem and is having increasingly serious impacts on the seas and on people’s use of them throughout the world. Civil society, the business sector, the public administration and politicians have all become much more aware of this issue in recent years. We have learnt more about the distribution, sources and impacts of marine litter, but there are still gaps in our knowledge. Measures to reduce inputs and to clean up litter have been made more effective.

Although Norway has a well-developed waste management system and inputs of litter from both land-based and marine Norwegian sources are limited, more needs to be done to reduce inputs and clean up litter.

Measures to prevent Norwegian waste from entering the marine environment and to clean up litter are an integral part of Norway’s waste management policy. The Government will discuss such measures, including the follow-up of analyses of action to deal with marine litter and microplastics, in a forthcoming white paper on waste management policy and the circular economy. The Government also discusses international efforts to deal with marine litter and microplastics in the white paper on the place of the oceans in Norway’s foreign and development policy.

The Government will:

  • intensify monitoring of marine litter in Norwegian sea areas: this will include obtaining more data on marine litter on the seabed and further developing the monitoring system under the marine management plans;

  • strengthen research on and monitoring of marine litter and microplastics, in Norwegian sea areas, and consider establishing monitoring of microplastics;

  • take steps to enable the voluntary sector, other non-state actors and municipalities to make the best possible contribution to clean-up operations and other measures to reduce marine litter;

  • consider whether to expand the organisation responsible for outdoor recreation areas along the coast, beach clean-up and information work to new geographical areas, where removal of beach litter will be an important task;

  • establish new arrangements to encourage the delivery of end-of-life leisure craft to approved facilities;

  • review the introduction of a system enabling fishermen and others who retrieve litter from the sea to deliver it free of charge in port. These arrangements will be based on experience gained from the Fishing for Litter project and will draw on accumulated knowledge;

  • review proposals for a producer responsibility scheme for the fisheries and aquaculture industry;

  • continue the annual retrieval programme for lost fishing gear to prevent ‘ghost fishing’ and reduce marine litter;

  • continue the removal of abandoned mussel cultivation facilities along the coast;

  • review measures for further reduction of marine litter from the fisheries and aquaculture industry, including measures to reduce losses of gear;

  • continue surveys and clean-up of discarded batteries on the seabed near lighthouses;

  • enhance the implementation of OSPAR’s Marine Litter Regional Action Plan;

  • play a part in international cooperation on research and knowledge building as regards microplastics in the marine environment, including the development of standardised definitions, measurement methods and indicators;

  • strengthen Norway’s role in international and regional cooperation to deal with marine litter and microplastics, particularly through cooperation within the UN system, OSPAR, the Nordic Council of Ministers, the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) and the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment Working Group (PAME), and by seeking to influence the EU.

7.3.10 Maritime safety and the preparedness and response system for acute pollution

Since the 2009 management plan was published, the likelihood of maritime accidents has been reduced through preventive measures. For example, traffic separation schemes and recommended routes have been introduced, and monitoring of shipping in Norwegian waters has been considerably expanded. At the same time, Norway’s capacity to prevent and limit environmental damage in the event of acute pollution has been strengthened through various preparedness and response measures. Governmental emergency response equipment has been renewed and supplemented, and emergency plans and the organisation of response operations have been updated. Together, these improvements in maritime safety and the preparedness and response system for acute pollution mean that the environmental risk associated with shipping in the management plan area has been reduced since 2009.

In June 2016, the Government presented a white paper on maritime safety and the preparedness and response system for acute pollution (Meld. St. 35 (2015 – 2016)). A number of the measures discussed in the white paper will improve maritime safety and the preparedness and response system for acute pollution in the Norwegian Sea. These measures are presented in Box 5.3 of the present white paper.

The Government will:

  • Follow up the measures presented in the white paper on maritime safety and the preparedness and response system for acute pollution, in line with the decisions made by the Storting during its consideration of the white paper.

7.4 Strengthening the knowledge base – mapping, research and monitoring

Maps of ecological information, mapping marine habitat types and the seabed – MAREANO

The MAREANO programme has registered many new coral reefs, and as a result, ten new areas of cold-water coral reefs in Norwegian waters have been given special protection by designation as marine protected areas under the Marine Resources Act. Knowledge acquired through the MAREANO programme, for example about vulnerable habitat types such as coral reefs, gorgonian forests and sponge communities, is important for sustainable management of the seabed.

As described in the white paper on Norway’s national biodiversity action plan, the Government will strengthen initiatives to map Norwegian nature and establish maps of ecological information for Norway. In marine areas, as elsewhere, the new Norwegian system for classifying habitats, ecosystems and landscapes developed by the Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre will be used for all mapping initiatives.

Knowledge development generally

Efforts are continuing to build up knowledge about ecosystem-based management and learn more about the structure and functioning of marine ecosystems. Basic knowledge about marine ecosystems, natural fluctuations and the impacts of human activity is needed to develop an integrated ecosystem-based marine management regime. More knowledge and a better understanding is needed of ecosystem function and of the impacts on ecosystems of climate change, ocean acidification, pollution and marine litter, particularly plastic and microplastics. Better methods of estimating cumulative environmental effects on marine ecosystems should be developed.

There is still a need to build up more knowledge about the socioeconomic and legal aspects of managing the marine environment.

It is difficult to assess progress towards some of the management goals for Norway’s sea areas because of gaps in our knowledge. In such cases, continued knowledge building is crucially important.

To make it possible to evaluate progress towards the goals set in the marine management plans, a system for coordinated monitoring of environmental status has been established, based on a representative set of indicators. The first status report on the Norwegian Sea environment, based on monitoring of these indicators, was presented in 2012, followed by an update in 2016. The indicator set needs to be further developed to include more pressure and impact indicators, and coordinated with relevant work under OSPAR.

The Government will:

  • continue the MAREANO programme for mapping of the seabed in Norwegian waters; .

  • when mapping marine habitat types, take into use the Norwegian system for classifying habitats, ecosystems and landscapes developed by the Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre;

  • further develop the monitoring system for ecosystems and environmental status in Norway’s sea areas, and coordinate it with OSPAR’s monitoring system;

  • build up knowledge about ecosystem-based management and the structure and functioning of marine ecosystems; .

  • improve knowledge about the prevention of accidents that may result in pollution;

  • improve knowledge about socioeconomic issues related to management of the marine environment.

7.5 Transparency, information and knowledge-sharing

All information on work on Norway’s marine management plans is published on the website www.havforum.no. This is intended to be an important information channel and to promote transparency and participation in work on the management plans.

Information about the state of the environment is updated regularly on the website www.miljostatus.no, which is Norway’s channel for dissemination of information on environmental status and trends. Thematic maps for marine and coastal areas are also available here, and supplement the written information on the marine management plans and the state of the environment.

The portal www.barentswatch.no provides a user-friendly overview of information on climate, environment and maritime transport for all ocean users. BarentsWatch is a monitoring and information system that provides access to quality-assured information on northern coastal and marine areas.

The Government will:

  • Continue the development of digital systems for information related to Norway’s marine management plans.

7.6 Further development of the management plan system – changes to how often they are updated and revised

During its consideration of the white paper on Norway’s national biodiversity action plan, the Storting emphasised that the management plans must be updated and revised regularly so that they provide an up-to-date framework for ecosystem-based management. Revision of each management plan at least every 12 years, including steps to obtain new data and more knowledge, and an update to check progress towards targets and assess the use of policy instruments every four years, will ensure that Norway’s marine management plans provide a predictable but dynamic framework and that the balance between the various user interests and environmental considerations is updated.

The Government will implement this system from the next parliamentary period. This will mean that at least one white paper on marine management is submitted to the Storting in each parliamentary period.

The Government will:

  • publish a revised management plan for the Barents Sea – Lofoten area in 2020;

  • revise the integrated, ecosystem-based management plans for Norway’s sea areas at least every 12 years and update them every four years.

7.7 International cooperation

Norway advocates international cooperation on the marine environment that reflects the principles of integrated, ecosystem-based management and topics such as sustainable fisheries management, climate change, ocean acidification and marine litter. Norway will continue its efforts to ensure that these and other ocean-related topics are given sufficient priority in international cooperation on climate and the marine environment. Norway’s role in international cooperation on the marine environment is further discussed in the white paper on the place of the oceans in Norway’s foreign and development policy.

The Government will:

  • continue cooperation on the marine environment in OSPAR;

  • strengthen the cooperation on management measures in NEAFC, including the work on protection of vulnerable areas against fisheries activities;

  • strengthen Nordic cooperation on the marine environment.

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