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Meld. St. 37 (2012-2013)

Integrated Management of the Marine Environment of the North Sea and Skagerrak (Management Plan) — Meld. St. 37 (2012–2013) Report to the Storting (white paper)

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9 Measures for the conservation and sustainable use of ecosystems

The Government’s goal is for Norway to be a pioneer in developing an integrated, ecosystem-based management regime for marine areas.

The purpose of this management plan is to provide a framework for the sustainable use of natural resources and ecosystem services derived from the North Sea and Skagerrak and at the same time maintain the structure, functioning, productivity and diversity of the area’s ecosystems. The management plan is thus a tool for both facilitating value creation and maintaining the high environmental value of the area.

Intensively used and economically important

The North Sea–Skagerrak area is Norway’s most intensively used sea area and one of the most heavily trafficked in the world. Norwegian society derives major assets from its use. The bulk of Norway’s oil and gas production and thus value creation by the industry takes place in the North Sea. In addition, the North Sea is biologically productive. There are major fisheries in the area, which is fished by both coastal and deep-sea fishing vessels. Moreover, the Skagerrak is particularly important for small-scale fisheries, and is also the sea area of Norway that is most heavily used for outdoor recreation. The high level of activity combined with a number of potentially conflicting interests places considerable demands on the management regime.

Access to the sea and opportunities to stay by the seaside and enjoy activities such as boating, swimming and fishing are important to many people. Opportunities to enjoy the seaside are strongly dependent on a clean, rich and productive marine environment – a living sea means a living coast.

Concern about the state of the environment

Since the 1970s, much has been done to improve the environmental status in the North Sea and Skagerrak, and particularly to reduce the pollution load. Nevertheless, the state of the environment still gives cause for concern and is unsatisfactory in many ways. These waters are naturally rich and productive, but the different types of pressures on the environment entail considerable management challenges. Concentrations of hazardous substances are higher in the North Sea and Skagerrak than in Norway’s other sea areas, and the concentration of marine litter is higher than anywhere else in the Northeast Atlantic. Water quality is good in the coastal current, but eutrophication and sediment deposition may affect water quality in near-coastal waters and fjords. Moreover, a number of seabird populations have declined and certain fish stocks are in poor condition. Climate change and ocean acidification are creating new challenges that will require a long-term approach to management of the North Sea and Skagerrak. This means that we need to take steps to improve environmental status and ecosystem resilience, and strengthen the basis for continued value creation through use and harvesting of the North Sea and Skagerrak.

International responsibility and national action

The North Sea and Skagerrak are shared between eight countries. Due to the direction of the ocean currents and prevailing winds, pollution from other countries is carried into Norwegian waters. Cooperation with the other North Sea countries and the combined efforts of all these countries are therefore of crucial importance for achieving good environmental status.

With the publication of the present white paper, the Government has drawn up integrated, ecosystem-based management plans for all Norwegian sea areas. These plans are an important tool for ensuring a good balance between conservation of the environment and sustainable use in marine areas. The Government will therefore continue and further develop the system of management plans, and make it more effective

9.1 Overall framework for commercial activities

The rich resources, ecosystems and ecological goods and services provided by the North Sea and Skagerrak, combined with their geographical location and intensive use, make these areas an engine of the Norwegian economy. The management plan is an important tool for ensuring that the area it covers continues to contribute to prosperity in the long term. The management plans clarify the overall framework and encourage closer coordination and clear priorities for management of Norway’s sea areas. They increase predictability and facilitate coexistence between industries that are based on the use of these sea areas and their natural resources.

The management plans are intended to be rolling plans that are updated at regular intervals. The Government has decided that the management plan, and the spatial framework for petroleum activities, in the Norwegian Sea will be updated for the first time in 2014 at the latest. After this, an overall revision will be carried out in 2025 for the period up to 2040. The management plan for the Barents Sea–Lofoten area was first presented in 2006 and updated in 2011. It will be updated again during the next parliamentary period. On the basis of the overall needs that are identified through assessments, a process will be started well before 2020 with a view to an overall revision of the Barents Sea–Lofoten management plan in 2020, with a time frame up to 2040. The Government will continue the development of an integrated ecosystem- based management regime for the North Sea and Skagerrak. On the basis of the overall needs that are identified in this sea area through assessments, a process will be started well before 2030 with a view to an overall revision of the North Sea–Skagerrak management plan in 2030, with a time frame up to 2050.

A flexible digital mapping tool could simplify the work of updating and revising the management plans and also provide general guidelines for spatial management (thus avoiding potential conflicts between activities) in Norway’s sea areas. It should also make the process of updating the management plans more efficient and give interested parties more opportunity to take part in the planning process. In other words, such a tool would be useful both during work on the management plans and for subsequent communication of the scientific basis and the conclusions drawn from it.

The Government will:

  • Continue to use the system of management plans for sea areas. An overall framework for petroleum activities will be established in the management plan for each sea area.

  • Organise a system of rolling management plans with regular updates.

  • Update the management plan and the spatial framework for petroleum activities in the Norwegian Sea in 2014 at the latest. The intention is to carry out an overall revision of the management plan in 2025 for the period up to 2040.

  • Update the management plan for the Barents Sea–Lofoten area during the next parliamentary period. On the basis of the overall needs that are identified through assessments, a process will be started well before 2020 with a view to an overall revision of the plan in 2020, with a time frame up to 2040.

  • Continue the development of an integrated ecosystem-based management regime for the North Sea and Skagerrak. On the basis of the overall needs that are identified through assessments, a process will be started well before 2030 with a view to an overall revision of the plan in 2030, with a time frame up to 2050.

  • Develop a digital mapping tool that can be used to present and compile mapping data for updating the management plans and disseminating information about them, in close cooperation between the Forum for Integrated Marine Management and BarentsWatch. The mapping tool will be made available through BarentsWatch.

9.2 Framework for petroleum activities in the North Sea and Skagerrak

Each of the management plans establishes the overall framework for petroleum activities in the sea area in question.

The management plans clarify where petroleum activities will be permitted within areas that have already been opened and within a specific time frame. The framework for activities in areas that have been opened may include environmental and fisheries-related requirements, spatial restrictions and restrictions on when drilling is permitted, and applies to new production licences regardless of whether they are issued during numbered licensing rounds or through the system of awards in predefined areas (APA).

Environmental requirements are applied to all phases of oil and gas activities, from decisions on whether to open areas, via exploration, assessment of whether a field should be developed, the production phase (in specific licences and annual amendments to the licences), and to shutdown and decommissioning of installations.

The North Sea differs from Norway’s other sea areas in the scale of oil and gas activities. In 2010, the North Sea fields accounted for about two-thirds of production on the Norwegian shelf. Oil and gas production in this area has a 40-year history, which means that the geology of most of the area is known, there are fewer technical challenges and there is a well developed or planned infrastructure.

The present management plan will provide a good basis for sound resource management and a predictable regulatory framework for the oil and gas industry. Petroleum activities are already in progress or planned in large areas of the North Sea, and these activities must coexist with the fisheries and comply with general environmental requirements. Comprehensive legislation has been established to ensure this. The current legislation lays down strict requirements for the industry, and a wide range of measures has been implemented to ensure that fisheries interests and environmental concerns are taken properly into account.

The following framework for petroleum activities will apply until the first update of the North Sea–Skagerrak management plan.

The Government will:

Skagerrak

  • Assess the future need for new knowledge about oil and gas resources and the environment in the Skagerrak. No petroleum activities will be initiated in the area until such an assessment has been made.

North Sea coastal zone

  • In a zone stretching 25 km outwards from the baseline, licensees must ensure adequate preparedness and response capacity for coastal waters and shoreline clean-up that is not based on municipal and government resources.

  • Given the risk-based approach of the health, safety and environment legislation, stricter requirements may be set for preparedness and response in coastal waters.

Sandeel habitat (south) and Viking Bank

  • Exploration drilling in the areas of sandeel habitat and in a zone surrounding them must be carried out in a way that minimises disturbance to spawning, and there must be no discharges of drill cuttings, to ensure that the quality of these areas is not reduced by sediment deposition from drilling activities.

  • Any field developments in these areas must use solutions that keep changes to benthic conditions in the areas of sandeel habitat to a minimum.

  • Other fisheries-related requirements will be maintained.

Other

  • In connection with numbered licensing rounds, and when licences are issued through the system of awards in predefined areas (APA), the authorities will take into account all available new knowledge about the effects of produced water and drill cuttings and other impacts on the environment and living marine resources.

9.3 Framework for offshore wind power

A report on proposed areas for impact assessments in connection with offshore wind power development was published in 2010, and identified six suitable areas in the North Sea. As a follow-up to the report, a strategic environmental assessment has been carried out. This recommends giving priority to opening four of the six areas (Frøyagrunnene, Utsira North, Southern North Sea I and Southern North Sea II). Limited grid capacity will probably mean that it is only possible to open one of the areas in the southern part of the North Sea in the foreseeable future. Consultations have been held on the strategic environmental assessment, and the deadline for comments was April 2013.

Impacts on the natural environment have been taken into account in selecting the recommended areas for offshore wind power. The strategic environmental assessment therefore assesses the impacts on seabirds, fish, marine mammals and benthic communities. In addition, a range of business and public interests will be affected by offshore energy production. The impacts on the oil and gas industry, shipping, fisheries, outdoor recreation and the landscape, the cultural heritage, and travel and tourism have been assessed. Thus, a broad-based approach has been taken in evaluating suitable locations for offshore wind projects.

The Government will:

  • follow up the strategic environmental assessment for offshore wind power with a view to opening up areas for licensing.

9.4 A changing climate

Climate change and ocean acidification are expected to result in major changes in ecosystem structure and functioning, but we know little about the impacts of such changes.

Expected changes will have to be identified so that appropriate steps can be taken to address negative impacts and adapt to climate change. One important adaptation measure is to limit other pressure from human activities and strengthen ecosystem resilience.

«Blue carbon» is the term used for the carbon captured and stored in marine biological material, in the same way as carbon is captured for example by forests on land. There is growing interest in the use of marine vegetation types, particularly kelp ecosystems, to sequester carbon.

The Government will:

  • Build up knowledge about the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification, including rising sea temperature and the spread of alien organisms (species or populations that do not occur naturally in the North Sea and Skagerrak), and on the combined effects of ocean acidification interacting with other pressures such as climate change, pollution and other human activities in the area.

  • Build up ecosystem resilience to withstand climate change and ocean acidification.

  • Build up knowledge about carbon uptake in marine vegetation types.

9.5 Measures for achieving good environmental status and ensuring sustainable use

The state of the environment in the North Sea and Skagerrak is still assessed as giving cause for concern in various ways. The Government therefore considers that there is a need to improve environmental status and ecosystem resilience, and to strengthen the basis for continued value creation through use and harvesting of the North Sea and Skagerrak

9.5.1 Reducing eutrophication and pollution by hazardous substances

The use and release of persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic substances poses a serious long-term threat to the marine environment. Despite wide-ranging measures and years of international cooperation, there are still considerable inputs of such substances to the management plan area. Levels of some substances are so high that there is cause for concern, both as regards seafood safety and for marine organisms in the North Sea and Skagerrak. In addition, more and more new synthetic pollutants are being discovered in this area. Little is known about the impacts of these substances and how they may interact. Many of them are only slowly biodegradable and tend to bioaccumulate, and some of them are suspected to be endocrine disruptors. It will be necessary to maintain strict regulation and continually reduce the use and releases of priority substances in order to achieve the target of eliminating releases and use of substances that pose a serious threat to health or the environment by 2020.

Eutrophication a problem in coastal waters and fjords

Eutrophication and sediment deposition as a result of inputs of nutrients and organic matter are primarily a problem in coastal waters and fjords. The inner coastal waters all along Norway’s Skagerrak coastline have been identified as a Problem Area with respect to eutrophication. The eutrophication status of the outer zone of coastal waters the open sea is considered to be good. Rising sea temperatures combined with higher inputs of nutrients and more sediment deposition are probable explanations for the loss of sugar kelp from much of the Skagerrak coast.

The Government will:

  • Follow up relevant measures in the management plans drawn up under the Water Management Regulations to reduce environmental problems caused by pollution loads in the coastal and marine environment from Norwegian releases of persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic substances, nutrients and particulate matter.

  • Continue remediation operations for contaminated sediments in fjords and harbour areas.

  • Continue screening studies to detect new hazardous substances and develop new methods to make it easier to recognise the potentially most dangerous pollutants.

  • Build up knowledge about the cumulative environmental effects of persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic substances and radioactive substances in the management plan area.

  • Reinforce efforts to develop a stricter international regime governing persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic substances in products.

  • Work towards international regulation of new persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic substances, for example through the Stockholm Convention.

9.5.2 Strengthening preparedness and response to acute pollution

Norway’s aim is to maintain a preparedness and response system for acute pollution that is appropriately dimensioned to the risk level, and that protects and helps to maintain a clean, rich and productive marine environment. In the event of a spill, the primary aim is to avoid environmental damage and secondarily to limit the scale of any damage. In the event of an incident involving a risk of environmental damage, steps must be taken to avoid pollution. At sea, this generally means taking steps to prevent oil from being discharged into the sea. If this is not possible, the main aim is to minimise the scale of the pollution and any subsequent environmental damage.

The preparedness and response system is being continuously developed, among other things on the basis of lessons learned from accidents and government clean-up operations. To provide an effective emergency response system, adequate resources must be available for use during operations. The availability of sufficient material and personnel is also important for preparedness and response in coastal waters and along the shoreline. Experience gained during oil spill response operations in Norway shows that operations management and close coordination between the actors involved is of crucial importance when dealing with acute pollution.

The Government will:

  • Commission five new multi-purpose offshore vessels equipped with modern oil spill recovery equipment, in addition to OV Utvær, which was put into service in autumn 2012.

  • Regularly assess progress in implementing the environmental risk and preparedness and response analysis drawn up by the Norwegian Coastal Administration.

  • Build up the municipalities’ capacity to provide assistance during governmental oil spill response operations.

  • Ensure the efficiency of the governmental oil spill response system through exercises, training and better coordination.

  • Contribute to research and development in the field of oil spill preparedness and response.

9.5.3 Combating marine litter

Marine litter injures seabirds, which mistake small pieces of plastic for food and eat them. Seabirds and marine mammals also become entangled in rope and cables and other large items of litter. Lost gill nets and other fishing gear continue to catch fish long after they have been lost, a problem known as ghost fishing. Litter on beaches and coastal islands and skerries is an aesthetic problem, and reduces the quality of these areas for outdoor recreation. Marine litter can also cause financial losses for shipping and fisheries. More systematic work is needed to deal with the problem of marine litter.

Voluntary organisations, neighbourhood associations, school classes and individuals put a great deal of effort into clearing litter from beaches and coastal islands and skerries. It is important that the central government and local authorities provide appropriate legislation and facilitate the continuation of voluntary efforts in this area. International cooperation is also needed to reverse the negative trend and reduce new inputs of marine litter.

The Government will:

  • Support voluntary clean-up operations, awareness-raising activities and local engagement in efforts to deal with marine litter, for example by supporting continuation of the annual beach clean-up day organised by the voluntary organisation Hold Norge rent (Keep Norway Clean).

  • Provide a legal basis to ensure that fishing and other vessels do not incur extra costs when they deliver litter collected from the sea.

  • Consider amendments to the legislation to allow municipalities to use waste management fees to fund clean-up of marine litter and prevent littering in selected public places.

  • Continue the annual retrieval programme for lost fishing gear and other equipment.

  • Consider arrangements to prevent illegal dumping of leisure craft at sea and their abandonment along the coast.

  • Maintain monitoring of reference beaches where litter is monitored and collected in accordance with OSPAR’s methodology for marine beach litter surveys.

  • Strengthen international cooperation, for example by advocating the development of a strategic plan for reduction of marine litter by OSPAR.

9.5.4 Ensuring sustainable harvesting of fish stocks

The North Sea and Skagerrak are traditionally important fishing grounds. Sandeels are a key species in the North Sea ecosystem, and are an important part of the diet for other fish species and for seabirds.

Steps need to be taken to rebuild some of the fish stocks in the management plan area, and it is also necessary to maintain sustainable levels of stocks that are in good condition. The Government also intends to build up more systematic knowledge about benthic habitats and the pressure fisheries exert on these habitats, and to reduce pressure on the seabed and benthic organisms.

The Government will:

  • Continue the development of ecosystem-based management of living marine resources.

  • Further develop the sandeel management regime to build up and safeguard viable spawning stocks in all historically important sandeel areas.

  • Continue rebuilding fish stocks that are in poor condition, particularly North Sea cod.

  • Encourage research on the development of selective fishing gear to reduce environmental impact.

  • Safeguard Norwegian fisheries interests in the North Sea and Skagerrak through continuous efforts to make Norwegian fisheries inspection at sea more effective.

  • Work to improve the effectiveness of control of landings and sales of fish from the management plan area.

  • Continue the system of opening and closing fishing grounds to protect juvenile fish.

  • Further develop systematic monitoring of the fisheries.

  • Continue the long-term survey of elasmobranches such as sharks and skates and rays in the North Sea.

  • Evaluate the results of the new area-based management plan for sandeels as part of the annual regulatory cycle for the fisheries.

  • Take part in international efforts to ensure the sustainability of the overall harvest from the North Sea.

  • Follow up the new agreement with the EU on a discard ban in the Skagerrak, in close collaboration with the EU.

  • Strengthen cooperation with the EU in general to ensure sustainable management of the resources of the North Sea and Skagerrak. Special attention will be paid to reducing/eliminating discards of catches and further developing management strategies for the fisheries sector in accordance with the precautionary principle.

9.5.5 Safeguarding seabird populations

Many of the Norwegian seabird populations have shown a severe decline for a number of years. Numbers of species such as common gull, black-legged kittiwake, common tern, Atlantic puffin and common guillemot have dropped substantially. However, populations of some species, such as northern gannet and great cormorant, have risen, and the population of common eider is relatively stable. Pressures on seabirds include climate change, changes in food supplies and human activity. Nest predation by mink is a contributory factor in the decline of some species. Another issue that is attracting considerable attention internationally is bycatches of seabirds in the fisheries. In autumn 2012, the EU published an action plan for reducing incidental catches of seabirds. A working group of seabird experts and marine scientists has been established under the mapping and monitoring programme for seabirds, SEAPOP, to investigate the links between the decline in many seabird populations and their food supplies, and suggest measures to improve food availability for seabirds. Seabirds are vulnerable to a range of pressures from human activity, and are also strongly influenced by natural fluctuations in environmental conditions. Given the threats to seabird populations, it is necessary to take steps to improve their protection.

The Government will:

  • Continue the mapping and monitoring programme for seabirds, SEAPOP, in all Norway’s sea areas.

  • Further develop systematic monitoring of the most important seabird populations.

  • Further develop knowledge about the links between the decline in many seabird populations and their food supplies, and identify possible measures to improve food availability for seabirds.

  • Intensify efforts to reduce the mink population along the shoreline and on coastal islands and skerries.

  • Continue to survey the scale of bycatches of seabirds by fishing vessels and review methods and technological solutions for reducing bycatches of seabirds and the extent to which they are being used.

  • Consider the introduction of specific requirements relating to gear and catch methods in fisheries or areas where bycatches of seabirds are a problem.

9.5.6 Marine protected areas

Ytre Hvaler national park was established in 2009 and covers an area of 354 km2, of which only 14 km2 is land and the rest is sea and seabed. It was established to protect the rich marine environment, both for its intrinsic value and to maintain an attractive area and outdoor recreation opportunities for future generations. Ytre Hvaler is Norway’s first marine national park. Several other protected areas along the coast also include adjoining areas of sea, but so far no other purely marine protected areas have been established. The establishment of Ytre Hvaler national park has raised awareness of the importance of protecting the marine environment. The establishment of a network of marine protected areas will safeguard important marine ecosystems.

Work on the marine protection plan will be continued. A proposal to establish three marine protected areas under section 39 of the Nature Diversity Act (Saltstraumen in Nordland, Tautraryggen in Nord-Trøndelag and Framvaren in Vest-Agder) is under consideration, and the deadline for comments on the proposal was in April 2013.

Marine protection in areas beyond national jurisdiction

Cooperation on marine protected areas is also a focus area under a number of international agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and the OSPAR Convention. Between 2006 and 2009, the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) closed several areas beyond national jurisdiction to bottom fishing to prevent damage. In 2010, OSPAR’s ministerial meeting in Bergen decided to establish six marine protected areas in areas beyond national jurisdiction. OSPAR and NEAFC are cooperating on identifying ecologically or biologically important areas, and this will be an important basis for further international work on marine protection. Marine protected areas are also an important topic of discussion in the UN General Assembly.

The Government will:

  • Continue its work on Norway’s marine protection plan.

  • Aim to establish up to three marine protected areas under the Nature Diversity Act in the course of 2013.

  • Play an active part in international cooperation (UN General Assembly, Convention on Biological Diversity, OSPAR, etc) to identify important marine areas with a view to their protection.

9.5.7 Knowledge building

The Government will continue to build up knowledge about environmental conditions, value creation and commercial activities in the North Sea and Skagerrak in the period leading up to the first update of the management plan. An important element of this work will be to clarify what is meant by good environmental status in the North Sea and Skagerrak and further develop indicators as a basis for establishing an integrated monitoring system. As in the other sea areas, this will be important for monitoring environmental trends and assessing progress towards goals.

This system will make it possible to evaluate the costs and benefits of possible additional measures that could be introduced to achieve good environmental status in the management plan area. Any such evaluation will also take into account the expected effects of action taken by the other North Sea countries to achieve good environmental status, including measures to implement the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

The values associated with coastal and marine areas can be demonstrated by initiating pilot projects in selected areas to investigate factors that can strengthen ecosystem services. For example, establishing small protected areas for lobsters has been successful and has resulted in a larger lobster population both within and outside the reserves. The aim is to obtain empirical knowledge as a basis for better management and improvement of environmental status.

Systematic mapping of the seabed through the MAREANO programme is also important.

The Government will:

  • Further develop indicators for assessing environmental status in the North Sea and Skagerrak and establish an integrated monitoring system for the state of the environment in this sea area.

  • On the basis of the monitoring results, determine:

    • which other environmental problems need to be addressed in the years ahead;

    • national and international action that can help to achieve good environmental status;

    • the costs and benefits of different measures.

  • Consider whether to initiate pilot projects to obtain empirical knowledge as a basis for improving management and environmental status, and determine the economic assets and potential that may result from better environmental status.

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

9.6 Simplifying the organisation of the management plan work

The main elements of the organisation of the management plan work were set out in the first management plan for the Barents Sea–Lofoten area in 2006. In 2010, during the first update of the plan, various aspects of the management plan were evaluated externally, including its organisation. In addition, the Forum for Integrated Management of the Barents Sea–Lofoten Area was asked to evaluate the work.

Some of the recommendations have already been followed up. They were incorporated when the mandates of several advisory groups (Forums for Integrated Management of the Barents Sea–Lofoten Area and the Norwegian Sea, Advisory Group on the Monitoring of Sea Areas and Forum on Environmental Risk Management) were revised in 2011. Another recommendation was that a single management forum should be established for the three sea areas.

With the publication of the present management plan, the Government has drawn up management plans for all Norwegian sea areas. From now on, the plans will only need to be updated and revised. This, together with experience gained from earlier work, will make it possible to simplify structures and working methods, making the management plan work more effective.

Merging the management forums for the three sea areas to form one Forum for Integrated Marine Management will make the management plan process more effective, reduce the workload for the agencies involved and ensure good coordination of work on all the sea areas. The Forum for Integrated Marine Management will be headed by the new Norwegian Environment Agency, which will also act as secretariat. The management forum will be responsible for coordinating the scientific aspects of integrated ecosystem-based management of Norway’s sea areas. The forum will include representatives of directorates and advisory institutions under the relevant ministries.

The Forum on Environmental Risk Management has been an important arena for further development of risk and environmental risk assessment relating to activities in Norway’s sea areas. Value creation is another cross-cutting issue that is highlighted in the present management plan. It now seems logical to incorporate work on these topics into the mandate of the Forum for Integrated Marine Management, as a way of making work on the management plan more effective. The Advisory Group on Monitoring will be maintained under the leadership of the Institute of Marine Research.

The Government will:

  • Establish a joint Forum for Integrated Marine Management for Norway’s sea areas.

  • Maintain the Advisory Group on Monitoring.

Figure 9.1 Organisation of the management plan work – new system

Figure 9.1 Organisation of the management plan work – new system

Source Ministry of the Environment

9.7 Strengthening international cooperation on the North Sea and Skagerrak

Internationally, Norway is considered to be a driving force in international cooperation on the marine environment and international fisheries management processes and to pursue an active marine environment policy. Regional environmental cooperation within OSPAR and cooperation on fisheries management within NEAFC, cooperation with the European Commission, Nordic cooperation and scientific advice (particularly that provided by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES)), will be of crucial importance for achieving and maintaining good environmental status in the North Sea and Skagerrak. Work in other forums, such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and cooperation on emergency preparedness and response under the Bonn and Copenhagen agreements and bilateral cooperation with individual countries, are also important. The management plan for the North Sea and Skagerrak will help to provide a firmer basis for Norway’s contributions to international cooperation.

The Government will:

  • Continue and strengthen cooperation in existing international forums to achieve and maintain good environmental status in the North Sea and Skagerrak.

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