National and regional story (Norway) - Why should we care?
Norway has one of the longest coastlines in the world, stretching over 2 500 km, broken by fjords and thousands of islands, altogether 83 300 km or more than twice the distance around the Equator if the total coastline was stretched out.
Norwegian jurisdiction encompasses vast ocean areas, including the island of Jan Mayen and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. Norway’s coastal waters are rich in flora and fauna and the surrounding oceans are some of the most productive in the world. This makes the country’s marine and coastal areas an important part of the identity and livelihood for many Norwegians.
Norway is highly dependent on marine resources. The oil and gas industry is the country’s largest industry and amounts to 27 per cent of the GDP. Norway’s second largest export industry, fisheries, which includes fish farming and fish processing, employs 30 000 people and exports of fish and fish products amount to well over 30 billion kroner. Moreover, coastal waters and the coastline itself are important recreation areas for many people. Most people in Norway (about 80% of the population of 4.8 million) live less than 10 km from the coastline.
The state of Norway’s marine areas is generally good, but there is growing pressure from human activity. Aquaculture, extensive fishing and oil and gas production have increased the load on marine areas. In general, the pressure increases close to the archipelagos and fjords, and decreases the further north you go. However, climate change and marine acidification affects the whole territory, and will be two of the greatest challenges in the future. We can already see the effects of climate change on the Norwegian marine environment, and trends show that acidification could become a considerable problem. Sweet tangle - its condition a good indicator of the environmental state in the marine environment, is disappearing many places along the coast because of higher temperatures, euthropication and increased particulate matter load.