The Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs has been given the responsibility for setting up a new, full-spectrum monitoring and information system for the Northern sea and coastal areas (“BarentsWatch”).
The work will be headed up by the Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA). The Norwegian Mapping Authority, the Norwegian Meteorological Institute and many other specialist bodies will be involved in the work.
The plan is for BarentsWatch to be developed in several phases, the first of which will involve the creation of a public information portal for the sea areas. The operations centre for the portal will be located in Tromsø. In parallel with the establishment of this open system, a closed, operational system will be developed to combine information from various sources in order to facilitate dealing with special situations. The plan is for this closed system to be linked to the Vessel Traffic Service centre at Vardø.
BarentsWatch is envisaged as a vital tool for providing the Norwegian authorities with a coherent picture of what may be happening at any time in the very extensive sea areas in the North. This in turn will serve to strengthen Norway’s role as a responsible manager of the sea areas and thereby safeguard the substantial assets they represent.
The Government gave advance notice in its High North Strategy of 2006 that it aimed to develop a full-spectrum monitoring and warning system for the Northern sea areas. This system will provide constant access to quality-assured data on the Northern sea and coastal areas, and ensure clear, up-to-date status information in the event of accidents, for risk evaluation of activities at sea, and for national and international climate, resource and environmental assessments. The system will also be capable of supporting Norwegian foreign policy.