Minister of transportation Jon Georg Dale hung up a symbolic life buoy for the ocean during the official opening of the Norwegian Centre for Oil Spill Preparedness and Marine Environment on 10 December; pictured here with the CEO of the centre, Ann-Helen Ernstsen. Photo: Henrik Jonassen

“Oceans are a hot topic, both nationally and internationally. That’s a good thing. We must take care of the resources that feed us by reducing the amount of plastic in the ocean. Norway’s firm position is that use and protection of sea areas need not clash. That is why there is such a significant need to gather knowledge that will enable sound management of these resources. The Norwegian Centre for Oil Spill Preparedness and Marine Environment will play an important role, and they will make a difference.

“Another important role is to be a driving force in the development of cost-effective and environmentally-friendly technologies, methods and measures to protect against oil spills and to combat marine litter,” said the minister in his opening speech.

CEO Ann-Helen Ernstsen talked about the establishment of and plans for the Centre for Oil Spill Preparedness and Marine Environment. Photo: Henrik Jonassen

Lively tango rhythms from cellist Synnøve Volden and accordionist Terje Brun set the stage during the opening. During the actual opening ceremony, minister of transportation Dale laid down a symbolic life buoy, bearing the Centre’s vision.

CEO of the Centre Ann-Helen Ernstsen noted that the buoy symbolises a rescue mission for the ocean, but also that the shape of the buoy was a symbol of circular cleanup, and a unifying force where the Centre will be a hub and an initiator both in Norway and internationally. “We will get all these good forces to work together as a team. We will accomplish this by coordinating the efforts, gathering knowledge via portals and facilitating interaction and innovation,” said Ernstsen.

Presentation of a gift during the opening of the Centre. Mayors of the host municipalities Hadsel and Vågan hand over a picture of puffins from Røst to CEO Ann-Helen Ernstsen. Photo: Henrik Jonassen

There were also speeches by the mayors of the host municipalities Hadsel (Siv Dagny Aasvik) and Vågan (Eivind Holst), preparedness director in the Norwegian Coastal Administration Johan Marius Ly and acting section head in the Directorate of Fisheries, Region Nordland, Trond Blom, along with board representative Monika Kleffelgård Hartvigsen in Keep Norway Beautiful and general manager of Salt, Kjersti Tønnessen Busch.

The official opening of the Centre for Oil Spill Preparedness and Marine Environment marks the transition from work to recruit and build an organisation in the establishment phase to a centre ready to contribute to the government’s commitment to clean seas.

Important activities at the Centre this autumn included informing and making contacts with the involved agencies, research communities and professional bodies and industry organisations. “We see that the Centre has been very well received, and we are working on establishing more important cooperation projects,” says Centre CEO Ann-Helen Ernstsen. The ambition and the mission of the Centre is to build up a national and international centre of expertise within oil spill preparedness and marine plastic pollution.
The Centre has taken part in a number of events through the autumn, has visited various players and systematically gathered input to improve both a further development of tools for effective and targeted beach cleanup, and a knowledge portal within the centre’s two areas of work. The opening week will also feature the first on-site inspection in connection with a study of potential activities linked to a test facility at Fiskebøl.

Employees, from the left Ragnhild Nyland, Ann-Helen Ernstsen, Gaute Wahl, Line Fredriksen. Anja Meland Rød and Unn H. Holgersen. Photo: Henrik Jonassen

Five people are currently employed at the Centre, but this number is expected to double during the first quarter of 2019. The plan is that between 15 and 20 people will work at the Centre.

 

 

 

 

Media coverage of the opening:

Vesterålen Online

Lofotposten

Våganavisa

NRK Nordland

Videoinnslag NRK Nordland distriktssendingen 5min 51 sek

Radioreportasjer NRK Nordland Intervju med direktør Ernstsen