The Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment has made the final decision regarding new regulations in Eastern Svalbard nature reserves. The amended protected area regulation enters into force May 1st 2014. The new regulations involve changes that may influence on cruise operations in the area.
Among the changes are:
Zone A has been categorized as “research area”. For travel within these two areas, a notification to the Governor must be given at least four weeks ahead of the voyage, and reports are mandatory after the voyage. It is unclear if this involve any changes for the cruise operators as they are already under obligation of the Regulations related to tourism and other travel in Svalbard, which also requires notification and post visit reporting.
Zone B has access prohibition May 15 – August 15. This applies to Tusenøyane and northern parts of Lågøya included Purchasneset. A proposal to close all of Lågøya, has not been laid down.
For Zone C (five different sites; (Kapp Lee/Doleritneset, Andrèetangen, Andrèeneset, Kræmerpynten and Polarstarodden) site specific guidelines will be required. Operators will need to include site specific guidelines in the notification of travel plans to the Governor, if they plan to visit these sites.
AECO has developed site specific guidelines for three of the sites (Kapp Lee/Doleritneset, Andrèetangen and Andrèeneset), https://www.aeco.no/guidelines/site-guidelines. The new regulations involves that the Governor of Svalbard may inspect and control compliance with the guidelines.
AECO has not developed site specific guidelines for Kræmerpynten and Polarstarodden. Operators planning to make landings in these sites, need to develop some kind of site specific guidelines to include in their notification to the Governor. Details have not been issued in regards to what minimum requirements there are to the content of such guidelines.
It is prohibited to litter within the nature reserves. The amended regulations includes a more specific prohibition against discharge of sewage and grey water within 500 meters off land for any vessels. The prohibition applies to all of Rijpfjorden.
In addition to the above new regulations, there is an already existing entrance prohibition to some cultural heritage sites within the nature reserves.
This regulation process started with a proposal to close all of Eastern Svalbard nature reserve (40% of Svalbard’s land area) for landings from cruise vessels, with the exemption of 16 small designated areas. AECO has been heavily involved in the more than five years long process and worked hard to avoid a closure of Eastern Svalbard nature reserve. AECO is not in favor of closing nature or cultural heritage areas to the public and believe considerate and environmentally friendly tourism is a way to create awareness, educate the public and promote nature and cultural heritage conservation.
The new regulations immediate entry into force have implications for this season’s cruise operations. Operators who has entered landings in Purchasneset and Tusenøyane between May 15 and August 15 in AECO’s cruise database, needs to change these entries (if you wish to find an alternative). AECO’s cruise database closes May 2nd. Operators also need to consider if this have implications for their notifications of travel plans to the Governor of Svalbard.
More information in Norwegian http://www.sysselmannen.no/Nyheter/Endringer-i-verneforskrifter-pa-Svalbard/