Expanding nature reserve in the Barents Sea

Photo: Halvard Strøm, Norwegian Polar Institute

The nature reserve around the Bear Island in the Barents Sea will be expanded. This is a measure to help preserve the environment in the Barents Sea and around Svalbard, the Norwegian government says.


Until now, the nature reserve around the Bear Island has extended four nautical miles off the coast of the Island. In the future it will reach 12 nautical miles off the coastline.

– This is an important element in the Government’s work in preserving the environment of the Barents Sea and around the Svalbard archipelago. At Bjørnøya and in the oceans nearby you will find unique nature and wildlife, which the Government wants to preserve better, Norwegian Minister of the Environment Erik Solheim says to Svalbardposten.

The nature reserve now includes 177 square kilometres on the island and 2805 square kilometres of ocean area.

The Bear Island is a key area for seabirds in the Barents Sea, and the island has one of Europe’s larges colonies of breeding guillemot. The colonies are very vulnerable for changes in their habitat, like pollution and climate changes. Many of the seabird stocks have experienced large decline over the last years, and this is a clear indication that the environmental impacts on the ecosystems already are extensive, says minister Solheim. .