The seismic survey vessel Ocean Explorer started acquisition of seismic data north of Senja, on Troms II, at 2230 hours last night. There is little fishery activity in the area and the survey activity is proceeding as planned. Acquisition of seismic data in Vesteralen started two days ago, and is also going as planned so far. The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) has commissioned the acquisition of seismic data on behalf of the Storting (Norwegian Parliament).
The research project designed to study the startle response of seismic surveys on fish is also proceeding according to plan. The project aims to obtain new knowledge about the startle response and how long it takes for fishery activity to normalize after seismic data acquisition. The project is being carried out by the Institute of Marine Research (HI) on behalf of the NPD and has a total cost framework of NOK 25 million. HI designed the project with input from a reference group where both fishery organizations and local politicians are represented. HI has hired five local fishing vessels which started test fishing on June 17, 12 days before the seismic data acquisition activity started in Vesteralen. The fishing vessels will carry out fishing throughout the entire seismic survey period, which runs to August 9. Test fishing will continue after the acquisition activity is concluded, until the fishing has normalized. The research vessel Hakon Mosby is also participating along with the fishing vessels in the research project, which is the largest ever implemented worldwide.
There was extensive fishery activity in the summer of 2008 in the part of Vesteralen where seismic data is now being acquired. On this basis, the NPD offered interested fishers a buy-out agreement under which fishers can receive compensation based on historic catch data from the same period in the same area in Vesteralen. The agreement entails that the fishers refrain from fishing in a manner which impedes the seismic data acquisition. Apart from that, fishers are free to carry out fishing in the area throughout the entire buy-out period of is six weeks.
Approximately 110-115 fishers have signed buy-out agreements with the NPD.
The Storting has directed the NPD to survey the geology in Nordland VII and Troms II to map potential oil and gas deposits. The results of the survey will be incorporated in the material which will form the basis for the Storting's renewed consideration of the comprehensive management plan for the Barents Sea and the waters off Lofoten in 2010.
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