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Thursday, July 18, 2024

‘Fish and oil don’t always mix’

The secretary general for environmental organization WWF in Norway isn’t backing down from concerns over huge new efforts to find more oil and gas off the Norwegian coast. She’s worried about the effect on the country’s next-largest industry, fishing.

Statoil has announced plans for more oil exploration in the Barents Sea, like that done here with the rig "Polar Pioneer." PHOTO: Statoil/Harald Pettersen

WWF’s local leader Nina Jensen repeated in a letter published in newspaper Aftenposten Monday that the pace of oil exploration, which involves seismic investigation of the sea floor, carries huge risk for Norway’s seafood.

“We warn against letting the oil industry put the seas’ sustainable and renewable values at risk,” wrote Jensen.  “All of the environmental organizations and agencies are advising against oil industry activity in important breeding areas.” That includes, according to Jensen, the waters around the northern archipelago of Lofoten.

Seismic exploration can scare away large schools of fish, Jensen claimed, while any oil spills can damage the reproduction capabilities of fish. “The long-term effects of oil and seismic are still uncertain,” Jensen wrote. WWF demands that all risky activity such as exploration and drilling be banned in “vulnerable and especially valuable areas of the seas.”

Norway’s largest oil company Statoil announced another new oil discovery last week, along with plans to step up oil exploration in the Barents from next year. The announcement set off harsh reaction from environmental organization Bellona and others.

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