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The Environmental Status of Norwegian Coastal Waters

Faglig kapittel
Eksterne nettsted
Christopher Harman, Trine Bekkby, Sara Calabrese, Hilde Trannum, Eivind Oug, Anders G Hagen, Norman Green, Øyvind Kaste, Helene Frigstad


Norway has a very long and varied coastline which includes archipelagos, beaches, mountains, and the famous fjords. Its length together with topography and, not least, the Gulf Stream govern its climate, which appears to be becoming both warmer and wetter. This precipitation results in large inputs of freshwater into the surrounding seas. Important habitats include kelp forests, seagrass beds, soft substrates, and the world’s largest cold-water corals reefs. The importance of the diversity and ecosystem function of these habitats is becoming increasingly understood although they are all challenged by anthropogenic pressures, not least climate change. Despite being relatively sparsely populated Norwegian cities and several major industries may exert considerable pressure on the marine environment. These include the oil and gas industry and aquaculture, both of which are extremely important to the Norwegian economy. In addition, capture fisheries remain important. Overall trends in the input of pollutants to coastal waters are largely downward (metals and organics), with a few exceptions, noticeably some increases in nutrients in the south due to changes in climate. A similar overall decline in pollutants in coastal marine organisms is also apparent, with a reduction in concentrations in recent years. Many contaminated sites persist however, including inner harbors and areas which have historically received industrial discharges. Consumption advices for seafood persist at many of these sites. There is also some evidence of increasing mercury concentrations in some areas, such as Oslofjord. Norway enforces most European and other international agreements regarding the protection and management of marine ecosystems, and has now has four national marine parks, all in the South of the country, as well as several other protected areas.