First update of the Integrated Management Plan for the Marine Environment of the Barents Sea−Lofoten Area

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The 2006 white paper states that the management plan will be a rolling plan and will be updated at regular intervals. In the white paper, the Government announced that it would:

  • regularly assess the need to follow up and update the management plan
  • assess the overall need for new measures to achieve the goals of the plan, based on the status reports to be submitted from 2010 onwards

The updated management plan does not include a full review of all the measures that were presented in 2006, but focuses on specific questions that were raised then and how these have been followed up. 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 management plan in 2020, with a time frame up to 2040.

In the 2006 management plan, the Government emphasised the importance of a cautious approach to the expansion of petroleum activities in the Barents Sea–Lofoten area. A framework for petroleum activities in the area was established taking into account the areas identified as particularly valuable and vulnerable and an assessment of the risk of acute oil pollution. The Government also announced that the framework would be reevaluated on the basis of the information available each time the management plan was updated, from 2010 onwards. The management plan identified specific areas where there was a need to strengthen the knowledge base, particularly mapping of the seabed, seabirds and geology.

The coalition government’s policy platform made it clear that it did not intend to open the waters off the Lofoten and Vesterålen Islands (Nordland VI and VII and Troms II) during the parliamentary term 2009 – 13, but that it would decide whether an impact assessment of petroleum activities should be carried out in connection with the review of the management plan in 2010. Furthermore, the 2006 white paper stated that the question of petroleum activities in the zone 35 – 50 km from the baseline off Troms and Finnmark would be considered in connection with the present update of the management plan.

Moreover, in the 2009 management plan for the Norwegian Sea, the Government announced that in connection with the update of the Barents Sea–Lofoten management plan, it would consider whether to initiate opening of the northern part of the coastal zone for petroleum activities; this process would also include an environmental impact assessment.
The present update of the management plan is based on both existing and new knowledge about ecosystems, ecological goods and services and resources that are important as a basis for value creation in the management plan area, and about trends in environmental status, pressures and impacts on the environment, and environmental risk. The scientific basis has been supplemented with studies assessing commercial activities and social conditions and ecological goods and services, with a particular focus on the waters off the Lofoten and Vesterålen Islands and Senja.

Certain thematic and policy areas, such as issues relating to international law and climate, security and business policy, are briefly discussed here but not considered in depth.