Bente Kristine Lorentzen, Lofoten Islands, Norway - “Lofoten is home to the world’s largest coldwater coral reef and marine mammals such as killer wales and sperm whales who feeds upon the squids and octopuses in the deep sea.”
Bente Kristine Lorentzen is 27 years old and lives in Kabelvåg, on the Lofoten Islands in northern Norway. She is the chairwoman of the People’s Campaign for an Oil-Free future in Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja, and has been involved in keeping the Norwegian Arctic free from oil and gas. We spoke to her about her experiences.
Our goal is to keep the offshore areas of Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja (LoVeSea) free from oil- and gas-activity, including seismic-surveys. Thanks to years of hard work by the campaign for an oil-free Lofoten and its supporters, LoVeSea remains protected from oil exploration and extraction, and we are proud to say we have accomplished our goal, for three government-periods from 2001 until today.
However, unfortunately, this is still only temporary. Following the parliamentary election in 2013 the ruling parties agreed to keep the area free from oil-activity, but only during the election-period from 2013 until 2017. So we are gathering support, and preparing for the next election in 2017 to ensure that LoVeSea remains free from oil- and gas activity after the next election as well.
The story behind the victory
The People’s campaign was born out of two local groups, protesting against the government plans to drill for oil in Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja.
In 2009 the two groups joined to form a national campaign for an oil-free future for these areas. Since then we have worked in local groups across the country, to share information, and to organise activities and gatherings to convince politicians to protect LoVeSea.
We experience great support for our cause. Both national and local polls made by media and others have shown that the people in Norway want these areas oil-free for the future.
Some of the most valuable and vulnerable areas in the world
The Islands of Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja are situated just above the arctic circle in Norway and are classified by the governmental environmental scientists as particularly valuable and vulnerable sea areas.
Oil and gas exploration and exploitation in these areas could do great damage to the local and international fisheries in the Barents-sea. Oil spills could damage the feeding areas for important animals such as sea-birds, marine mammals and damage important coral reefs. The CO2 emissions will contribute to global warming and acidification, increasing the threats to the valuable ecosystems in the arctic areas.
Worst case scenario, the change in the climate and increased temperature in the water will effect the spawning of the important fish-stocks of the north, which gives us food, money and jobs. In these areas you will find the world’s largest cold-water coral reef and marine mammals such as killer wales and sperm whales who feeds upon the squids and octopuses in the deep sea.
The very high biological productivity makes it ideal for fish to spawn and seabirds to nest in the steep mountains. The last big cod stock in the world spawns in the areas of Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja. The Norwegian institute of marine research recently presented a report, that states the areas as the main artery for Norwegian fish recruitment – an oil-accident in these areas will have major consequences for the ecosystems of the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea.
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