Arctic offshore drilling kept clear of the ice in Norway | WWF

Arctic offshore drilling kept clear of the ice in Norway

Posted on 15 June 2015    
Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) on edge of an ice floe, Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway.
© Steve Morello / WWF
WWF is pleased that Norway's Parliament has rejected a dangerous offshore drilling proposal from its own Ministry of Climate and Environment. The proposal would have moved the northern limit for offshore drilling in the Barents Sea to the edge of the sea ice - far beyond the recommended limit set by scientific advisors to the Ministry.

The new proposed boundaries for offshore drilling would have brought development into the marginal ice zone, the biologically valuable area where Arctic sea ice meets open ocean, and a no-go zone for oil and gas defined by the government's marine management plan. WWF and major scientific institutions criticized the Ministry for putting politics over science to extend offshore drilling. Parliament's rejection of a ministry's proposal is an unusual, and welcome, move.

The marginal ice zone is the Arctic's biological engine, and an oil spill there could have enormous consequences. When Arctic sea ice retreats northward in spring and summer, an explosion of life from plankton to polar bears follows, making the ice edge the most important marine area in the Arctic.

Previously: We know where to draw the line for oil in Norway

A more scientifically sound definition of the marginal ice zone is already available from the Norwegian Polar Institute, the country's lead Arctic scientific department. WWF is urging Norway to to create a responsible, updated management plan for this region based on the best available science.
Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) on edge of an ice floe, Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway.
© Steve Morello / WWF Enlarge

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