Ships pose threat to Svalbard

Large ships may be banned in the protected areas of natural wilderness

Svalbard acrchipelago

Photo: Hal Tearse / Pixabay
The Svalbard archipelago is home to a pristine Arctic wilderness, but with increased toursim traffic, including large cruise ships, the northern natural wonderland is now under threat.

Brian Kerr
Norway Today

In order to preserve the natural wilderness of Svalbard, the government will regulate traffic and is now considering several measures, including size restrictions on ships.

“We have mapped the challenges the development in the travel industry pose for environment, safety, and preparedness. Against this backdrop, the government will consider making the heavy oil ban a general ban as well as imposing size restrictions on ships in the protected areas,” said Public Security Minister Ingvil Smines Tybring-Gjedde (FrP/Progress Party) in a press release.

Safety risks

Tybring-Gjedde adds that the government will investigate the possibility of limiting the scope of tourism activity in the archipelago for emergency and security reasons.

Every year, the cruise industry brings a large number of visitors to Svalbard’s wilderness areas. The large cruise ships can carry thousands of passengers, and when it comes to safety, there is a great distance to emergency resources. 

Environmental issues

For environmental considerations, it is pointed out that cruise ships often use heavy oil. In addition, due to climate change, the environment in Svalbard is particularly vulnerable, and this vulnerability increases with increased traffic.

“It is now necessary to protect the natural wilderness and cultural heritage values of Svalbard from the overall increased burden, from both tourism and climate change. I will therefore consider several appropriate and targeted measures to protect wildlife, nature, and cultural heritage,” says Minister of Climate and Environment Ola Elvestuen (Venstre/Liberal Party).

This article was originally published on Norway Today.

This article originally appeared in the December 27, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American.

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