Norway's government has extended a 30-year moratorium on oil production on its Arctic shelf until 2013 under pressure from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the environmental organization said on Monday.
"The moratorium for Lofoten and Vesteralen [islands] in Norway's northern arctic waters is part of an overall management plan for the Barents Sea that is aimed at protecting important areas for fish, sea birds, seals and whales," the WWF said on its website, adding that the ban would last until 2013.
The moratorium is part of WWF-supported campaigns already under way in Alaska and Russia to protect fisheries and communities.
The wildlife protection campaigns are based on studies showing that oil returns in the long term would be less than returns from well-protected biological resources.
"It is complete madness to trade in a sustainable fishery that could continue to accommodate the interests of both people and nature for generations for a few years of quick and dirty profits from oil," said Rasmus Hanssen, Secretary General of WWF Norway, according to the website.
The organization has long called for Russia to follow Norway's suit and protect its biological resources from oil company expansion. In particular, a recent Rosneft-BP deal to jointly extract oil from the Arctic shelf has raised serious concerns among environmentalists. The companies plan to start drilling in 2015.
MOSCOW, March 14 (RIA Novosti)