The measures are suggested for the Geirangerfjord, the Nærøyfjord and the Aurlandsfjord. These three fjords are on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites and shall be given particular protection in accordance with the requirements of the international World Heritage Convention. The background for this report is the ever-growing cruise traffic in these areas, bringing along increased pollution, in particular emissions to air.

"I commissioned the report last year, as Norway has an international responsibility to protect our world heritage sites. We want the preservation of the Norwegian world heritage sites to be beacon for best practice for conserving culture and nature. Climate- and environment-friendly shipping is also an important priority area. Reducing pollution from the cruise traffic in the world heritage fjords is significant for both goals. I would like to thank the Norwegian Maritime Authority for the thorough and solid work that has been carried out together with many actors. We will start the follow-up work immediately, working closely with the NMA and the interests involved," says the Minister of Climate and Environment, Vidar Helgesen.

Proposals from the NMA

The NMA has mapped out environmentally harmful issues in the areas. The survey concludes that discharges to the sea are low and meet the requirements, whereas the emissions to air occasionally exceed the limits for what could be detrimental to health. This is especially the case in the months of June, July and August, when the cruise traffic is the heaviest. Emissions from ship types other than cruise ships and local shipping represent a small part of the overall emissions.

In the report submitted to the Ministry of Climate and Environment on May 5h, the NMA proposes the following requirements for cruise ships and other ships visiting the fjords:

  • Requirement for ships to have NOx reducing technology installed on board
  • Only allowing fuels with low sulphur content
  • Visible smoke emissions from ships shall meet transparency requirements
  • Introducing reporting requirements for all ships entering world heritage fjords
  • Reducing the number of calls at port; total number or per day/week
  • Setting a maximum speed in defined zones in order to reduce fuel consumption and emissions
  • Prohibition to discharge scrubber water
  • Prohibition to discharge greywater
  • Prohibition to discharge sewage, uncleaned and cleaned

"These are specific measures that will protect the environment in these fjords, and at the same time make ships operating along large parts of the Norwegian coast more environmentally friendly. It is our impression that the cruise ship industry and their customers see environmental requirements as a natural and positive part of the business," says Director General of Shipping and Navigation, Olav Akselsen.

Many ships built before 2000

Most ships operating in the fjords were built before 2000 and have engines without modern technology for reducing pollution. This leads, among other things, to emissions of particulate matter, sulphur oxides (SOx) and nitrous oxides (NOx). Nevertheless, the emissions of SOx are not large enough to exceed the air quality criteria. This is due to the fact that the fuel used in the fjords has a low sulphur content or that scrubbers (exhaust gas cleaning systems) are being used.

Read the report and underlying documentation (in Norwegian)