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Hearing regarding temporary changes in the regulations relating to motor traffic in Svalbard

The Governor of Svalbard has sent out a hearing about temporary changes of § 8 in the regulations relating to motor traffic in Svalbard, for the ice-covered areas on Billefjorden, Tempelfjorden, Van Mijenfjorden and on Storfjorden between Wichebukta and Domen. The changes will be set into force if the Governor considers it necessary to prevent disturbance of vulnerable wildlife.

In addition to the measures already mentioned, the Governor will have an increased presence and supervision out in the field during the main season. The purpose for this is both to give information and to prevent unwanted incidents.

It is mentioned that this type of temporary changes in the regulations for motor traffic in Svalbard can be set into effect without a hearing. The Governor has still chosen to make a hearing to inform about this possibility and through the process be able to remedy unforeseen circumstances beforehand, if possible.

Naturally no one knows with certainty how this year's season will develop regarding ice cover, polar bear's use of these ice-covered areas, tourism traffic and quantity etc. The temporary changes described are based on existing experience and knowledge as per today. Changes in these premises might also give changes in the rules described in the hearing letter without a new hearing.

With this background the Governor would like to receive consultative input on the areas and delineations suggested. They would also like to receive input on how the various parties use these areas and how they would be affected by possible traffic restrictions.

The hearing documents are unfortunately only in Norwegian, but the maps show the limitations well: red-hatched areas are areas where motorized traffic will be forbidden, and blue hatched areas are areas where motorised traffic is allowed to cross in the shortest navigable route without stops. It is made clear that necessary safety stops to control ice thickness or stops due to technical problems etc are allowed. If researchers or research institutions need help with the Norwegian document they are welcome to contact Svalbard Science Forum at

Input should be sent to, and the deadline is 20 February 2019.

Written by:
Margrete Keyser
Last updated: