Hearing on temporary changes to the Motor Traffic Regulations
The Governor submits for consultation a proposal for a temporary amendment to Section 8 of the regulation on motor traffic in Svalbard. The proposed changes include traffic on the sea ice in the areas of Billefjorden and Tempelfjorden. The hearing deadline is 23 February.
Corresponding changes have been made in the regulations over the past five years to prevent disturbance of vulnerable wildlife, particularly polar bears, and ringed seals. The hearing deadline is 23 February 2023.
The Governor assumes that motor traffic in Tempelfjorden and Billefjorden will be at a high level if sea ice forms and we consider that the regulation is necessary to protect the habitats of the ice-dependent species. The Norwegian Polar Institute has provided a knowledge base which is used as a basis for our assessment of the need for traffic restrictions on sea ice.
The Governor emphasizes that the existing knowledge base is clear on that the extent of the ice and thus the habitats of polar bears and seal species has been greatly reduced. A good distance should be kept from areas where there may be throwing pits for ringed seals and that you must not drive towards and frighten ringed seals that are resting on the sea ice. In addition, polar bear females with young cubs are sensitive to disturbances.
In previous years, the Governor has assessed all consultation input received, and assumes that these are still representative. The Governor nevertheless wants input on the proposed changes, and particularly wants input on how the consultation parties use the areas, and how the parties will be affected by traffic restrictions in these areas.
See links to the consultation letter and consultation documents with maps (in Norwegian).