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Stricter environmental regulations in Svalbard

Updated: Mar 19

The government of Norway has introduced stricter environmental protection measures for the Svalbard archipelago in response to increasing visitor numbers. These new regulations are intended to better protect the region's fragile ecosystem by imposing stricter requirements on travelers.

The Norwegian archipelago of Spitsbergen, also known as Svalbard, has introduced increased environmental protection regulations for visitors. The measures adopted in mid-February aim to preserve the unique nature and wildlife of the Arctic by more strictly regulating shipping and tourist traffic. Under the new regulations, the number of landing zones for ships is limited to 43, while access to other areas for tourists is prohibited. These restrictions do not apply to residents of Longyearbyen, Barentsburg and Ny-Ålesund. Stricter guidelines now also apply to camping, and the use of drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles is prohibited in protected areas.

Tourism is increasing

Following the announcement of the new law, Andreas Bielland, the Norwegian Minister for Climate and Environment, said: “In order to better protect flora and fauna, we have strengthened environmental protection policies in Svalbard.” Due to the increasing flow of tourists to the Arctic and the resulting threat to the flora and fauna there, stricter protective measures were deemed necessary. A particular focus is on stricter speed and distance regulations for motorized ships, which apply from April 1st to August 31st. Ships must now maintain a minimum distance of 150 meters from walrus resting places, the so-called haul sites, where the animals gather on the shore. In protected areas, ships are also not allowed to carry more than 200 passengers. A general ban on the use of snowmobiles or tracked vehicles in certain fjords comes into force on March 1, unless they are needed to reach huts.

Cruise boom

The Svalbard archipelago, located north of mainland Scandinavia, consists of the main island of Svalbard, which gives it its name, and over 100 other islands. Of these, approximately two thirds are protected as national parks and nature reserves. The region, home to around 3,000 people, attracts around 70,000 visitors every year, mostly arriving by cruise ship.


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