Norway launches maritime safety initiative

Extension of territorial limits planned to improve protection from oil, radioactive waste shipments

In the aftermath of three recent shipping accidents and pollution scares off the Norwegian coast, the government has drafted an action plan to improve maritime safety and preparedness.

The most striking proposal is an extension of offshore territorial limits from four to twelve nautical miles. This measure "will make it easier to monitor shipping traffic and direct it further out from land", the environment ministry said in a statement.

"Shipping traffic associated with increased oil activities in north-western Russia and the Barents Sea, and the transport of atomic waste along the Norwegian coast, pose a particular risk," the ministry continued. Pending any joint international regulations, the government will discuss with the Russian authorities new warning routines for the transport of crude oil and radioactive material and the establishment of special pilotage services for vessels carrying environmentally hazardous cargoes.

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