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Home* News and Stories → New regla­ti­ons for pro­tec­ted are­as on the west- and north coast of Spits­ber­gen

New regla­ti­ons for pro­tec­ted are­as on the west- and north coast of Spits­ber­gen

New regu­la­ti­ons for the Natio­nal Parks on the west coast of Spits­ber­gen – South Spits­ber­gen Natio­nal Park and North Spits­ber­gen Natio­nal Park – have been under dis­cus­sion for a con­si­derable time. They ent­e­red for­ce on 20 Decem­ber 2019, accord­ing to a press release by the Nor­we­gi­an government.

Liefdefjord bird sanctuary: Andøyane

New bird sanc­tua­ry Lief­defjord: Andøya­ne (seen here), Stas­jon­søya­ne, Måkeøya­ne and Ler­nerøya­ne are inclu­ded. Com­mon eiders and other birds may have a hid­den nest behind every drift­wood log, so it has never been a good idea to walk around here during the bree­ding sea­son. Now the­se islands are sea­so­nal­ly pro­tec­ted by law.

New regu­la­ti­ons

The­re are a cou­p­le of chan­ges rele­vant main­ly for ship-based tou­rism in the­se are­as. Expe­di­ti­on lea­ders, tour lea­ders and gui­des as well as indi­vi­du­al tou­rists such as crews of pri­va­te yachts need to be awa­re of the­se new regu­la­ti­ons.

The most important ones are:

  • The­re is a new bird sanc­tua­ry „Lief­defjord“, which inclu­des the island groups of Andøya­ne, Stas­jon­søya­ne, Måkeøya­ne and Ler­nerøya­ne. The pro­tec­tion mecha­nism is the same as for the older bird sanc­tua­ries: all traf­fic is ban­ned from the islands inclu­ding the waters wit­hin 300 metres from the nea­rest shore from 15 May to 15 August.
    This is pro­bab­ly the most rele­vant chan­ge for ship-based tou­rism and the only one that will invol­ve important restric­tions on regu­lar­ly visi­ted sites.
  • The bird reser­ve Blom­strand­ham­na on the north side of Blom­strand­hal­vøya is enlar­ged: now, Ind­re Breøya is also inclu­ded.
  • The­re is now a per­ma­nent traf­fic ban in an area around the warm springs of Troll­k­jel­de­ne. The exact loca­ti­on is given by a map and a set of coor­di­na­tes.
    Troll­k­jel­de­ne com­pri­se several warm springs with sin­ter ter­races south of Bockfjord, a cou­p­le of kilo­me­tres inland. They are not a fre­quent­ly visi­ted site. Jotunk­jel­de­ne, the smal­ler springs clo­se to the shore in Bockfjord, are not inclu­ded in the new regu­la­ti­ons and can also be visi­ted in the future (with care, plea­se).
  • New site-spe­ci­fic gui­de­li­nes will be intro­du­ced at a cou­p­le of loca­ti­ons. AECO will pro­vi­de the­se gui­de­li­nes to the Sys­sel­man­nen. The­se sites inclu­de: Ytre Nor­skøya, Sal­ly­ham­na and Smee­ren­burg (nor­thwest Spits­ber­gen), Signe­ham­na and Fjor­ten­de Juli­buk­ta (Krossfjord), Fug­le­hu­ken (Prins Karls For­land), Ahl­strand­hal­vøya (Van Keu­len­fjord), Gnå­lod­den and Gås­ham­na (both in Horn­sund).
  • Things have actual­ly even beco­me easier in a few cases: non-moto­ri­sed boats may pass clo­se to the main­land coast wit­hin the 300 m zone of the bird sanc­tua­ries of Bohe­man (near Bohe­man­nes­et in Isfjord) and Prins Hein­richøya / Mie­the­hol­men (east of Ny-Åle­sund in Kongsfjord). That will make life easier for kaya­kers. Any boat that has an engi­ne has to stay out­side the 300 m zone just as befo­re, mea­ning that you can, for examp­le, not pass bet­ween the main­land coast and Prins Hein­richøya / Mie­the­hol­men with a Zodiac.
  • Toi­let water and grey­wa­ter may not be dischar­ged off wit­hin 500 metres from the coast. This was, so far, only valid wit­hin the Natu­re Reser­ves; now it is also in for­ce in the Natio­nal Parks.
  • Moto­ri­sed traf­fic on land is pro­hi­bi­ted in the Natu­re Reser­ves (not new) and in the bird sanc­tua­ries (also not new, but cla­ri­fied). The­re is, howe­ver, an important excep­ti­on: snow mobi­les are allo­wed wit­hin the bird sanc­tua­ry at Kapp Lin­né until 14 May (the gene­ral rules app­ly, of cour­se – no dis­tur­ban­ce of wild­life, no dri­ving on ground that is not fro­zen and snow-cove­r­ed).
Trollkjeldene, Bockfjord

Troll­k­jel­de­ne (Troll springs) in Bockfjord: from now on you have to keep some distance.
Jotunk­jel­de­ne, the springs which are clo­se to the shore and more regu­lar­ly visi­ted, are not affec­ted by new regu­la­ti­ons.

All other exis­ting regu­la­ti­ons remain in for­ce, inclu­ding the pos­si­bi­li­ty for traw­ling in depth grea­ter than 100 metres.

Fur­ther cur­rent chan­ges inclu­de main­ly the exact wor­d­ing of the regu­la­ti­ons without imply­ing much of a chan­ge in prac­ti­ce. For examp­le, the bird sanc­tua­ries or bird reser­ves are now „natu­re reser­ves for birds“ to make it clear that they have gene­ral­ly the same sta­tus as natu­re reser­ves, which are Norway’s most strict­ly pro­tec­ted are­as.

More chan­ges to come

The future will see fur­ther chan­ges espe­cial­ly in cen­tral Spits­ber­gen: a new admin­stra­ti­on plan will look at important are­as inclu­ding Isfjord, Advent­da­len which is next to Lon­gye­ar­by­en and Van Mijen­fjord. Chan­ges may inclu­de a ban on hea­vy oil in Isfjord and a maxi­mum size (pas­sen­ger num­ber) of ships allo­wed to visit the­se waters. But the­se and other pos­si­ble chan­ges are part of ano­t­her pro­cess that is cur­r­ent­ly in an ear­ly sta­ge.

By the way, my new book is in print and it can now be orde­red 🙂 it is a pho­to book with the tit­le “Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den (1): Spitz­ber­gen – vom Polar­licht bis zur Mit­ter­nachts­son­ne”, with Ger­man text Click here for fur­ther details!

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last modification: 2020-01-27 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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