Norway: oil drilling put on hold

On 11 March 2011 the Norwegian government decided to hold off on oil activity in the areas of Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja in the North of Norway. This decision was a major victory for Friends of the Earth Norway/Norges Naturvernforbund and the rest of the environmental movement, who have been campaigning on the issue for years.
Oil drilling halted in northern NorwayActivists from Young FoE Norway greeting celebrate the decision to halt oil drilling. Credit: Carl-Frederic Salicath

The pristine areas offshore of the Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja archipelagos in the North of Norway, are among the world’s most sensitive and biodiverse ecosystems. The area holds unique cold-water reefs, pods of sperm whales and killer whales, and some of the largest seabird colonies in Europe, as well as being the spawning grounds of the largest remaining cod stock in the world. Friends of the Earth Norway has been working together with local community and fisheries organisations, calling for these areas to be protected from the risks and emissions associated with oil and gas activity.

 

The government’s decision was not a final victory, as the issue is likely to come up again in a few years time. But it was definitely worth a moment of celebration for all those who have worked so hard to protect these unique areas from the impacts of oil and gas activity. This victory gives inspiration to all those continuing the fight against the oil industry, and it is proof that it pays to persevere. Having the scientific facts on their side, combined with the fantastic enthusiasm of activists all over the country, allowed Friends of the Earth Norway to stop a powerful and desperate oil lobby.

“The oil industry spent millions of dollars and substantial resources in an attempt to influence the population of Lofoten and the rest of Northern Norway, making it difficult for a small organisation with limited finances like ours to be heard. But through close collaboration with Friends of the Earth Norway, we reached a far wider audience than we would have managed alone. We proved that petroleum activities on the narrow continental shelf would displace local fisheries with long traditions. We showed that through cooperation and a ‘can do attitude’, we can get our message out despite the scarce resources we have!”

 

Arne Hole, General Manager, the Norwegian Coastal Fishermen’s Union.

 

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