The Recreational Mariner's Guide

2. Norway

Environmental Concerns

Environment Norway


Norway generally has little current or tidal stream to carry away rubbish thrown over the side. Consequently the skjærgård would quickly be ruined were it not for the very high level of discipline displayed by users of these waters, which are spotlessly clean as are almost all harbours and quays. Please do your part to keep them that way. 

There are large containers for rubbish in almost all harbours and, if you are spending a few days in an anchorage, you should take your rubbish on to the next harbour.

It is against the law to throw refuse overboard within the skjærgård.

Holding Tanks

The EU and affiliated countries have agreed to a treaty prohibiting any release of black water overboard, known as the Helcom Convention. This agreement has been implemented in all the Nordic countries except Norway. 

In Norway there is no formal regulation requiring foreign-flagged vessels to have holding tanks installed; however, Norwegian law states that the discharge of sanitation devices is not allowed within 300 m of shore.  

There are, however, some harbours in south Norway that are zero-discharge zones and this rule should be followed in any small anchorage or harbour that doesn’t flush well. Also, two municipalities in Oslofjorden (Nesodden and Vestby) have introduced local legislation making it illegal to empty black water overboard within municipal boundaries.

There are virtually no pump out facilities in north Norway and they are few and far between even in south Norway.

Many of the anchorages described in the Guide have basic toilet facilities ashore and we encourage the use of these whenever possible; however, at sea, even in fairly confined areas, there is no restriction on using marine heads. 


Norwegian wildlife names

Annoying or Dangerous

  • Mosquitoes and flies can be a problem to the sensitive and in some places appear to grow to the size of sparrows!
  • Norway does have ticks, leading to concerns re Lyme Disease and encephalitis.
  • The only poisonous creature in Norway is the Black Adder.
  • Moose (elg) should be avoided during the fall rutting season. 


Norway is a country of seabirds, with several coastal islands internationally known for large colonies: Runde near Ålesund, Røst in Lofoten, Fuglnyken and Bleiksøya in Vesterålen, and Fugløya near Torsvåg. The area around Bodø is heavily populated with the magnificent havørn (sea eagle). 

Nature and Bird Reserves

Norway has nearly 3000 nature reserves, most of which are open to the public, but activities that damage local ecosystems are prohibited and some of the reserves have seasonal limitation of access (usually during the bird breeding season, which is April 15th to July 31st in most areas; April 15th to July 15th in the south).

If exploring the skjærgård off the main leads and away from villages, you should be sensitive to this high degree of seabird protection, though it is quite difficult to determine exactly where and when to be concerned! 

Some ways to find out about these reserves:

  • We have made a note in Harbours and Anchorages entries of the location and limitations of reserves where we are aware of them. 
  • The small craft charts (Båtsportkart series) show reserve boundaries but not limitations. 
  • Naturebase map (Google Translate will be helpful once you get to the detailed descriptions):
    • click on “Show Layer List” (top left) and choose layer from the dropdown menu (I used “Naturvernområder alle”)
    • zoom into area of interest
    • right click on the protected area of interest, shown as a bordered and coloured area
    • click on “Find data on the map” on the popup screen
    • click on right arrow next to “Naturvernområder alle”, which will appear on a dropdown menu on the left of the screen
    • click on the link below “faktaark”
    • translate information under “Generelt”
    • (yes, complicated, but fun!)
  • Many of the more stringently protected areas are signposted, though often without any description of the limitations. 
  • The best way to find out may be to enquire locally, if that’s an option. 

The Marine Mammal Harvest

The harvesting of marine mammals is a topic that provokes strong feelings in many people, including Norwegians. The harvesting of whales is especially divisive. Norway does have an annual minke whale harvest and whale and seal meat are available in many restaurants, primarily in North Norway and Svalbard.