Restrictions imposed on motorised traffic in Tempelfjorden
The Governor is imposing restrictions on motor traffic on sea ice in Tempelfjorden in order to protect seals and polar bears in a particularly vulnerable phase.
- A female polar bear with cubs has been observed in Tempelfjorden during the last few weeks, in addition to several other bears residing in the area. At the same time, the snowmobile traffic is extensive, and several unfortunate episodes involving snowmobiles on the sea ice have been observed during the last couple of days. We are currently entering a particularly vulnerable phase for species dependent on sea ice, such as ringed seals and polar bears. The seals will birth their pups on the sea ice, and the bears have a narrow time window to eat and gain as much weight as possible to prepare for their many months of limited access to food, says head of environment protection Morten Wedege.
The restrictions are introduced with immediate effect, and will remain in effect until further notice, but no longer than until June 1. The Governor emphasises that anyone travelling on sea ice has an individual responsibility to ensure that the sea ice is safe and navigable.
The Governor refers to the consultation process earlier this year when possible restrictions were announced. In line with the input received in the process, the Governor has strengthened supervision and information efforts in the area during the last few weeks. However, incidents have been observed where polar bears have been disturbed by snowmobiles. Accordingly, the Governor's assessment is that it is necessary to limit motorised traffic on the sea ice in Tempelfjorden in order to prevent disturbance of polar bears and seals in a vulnerable phase.
In Tempelfjorden, the imposed restrictions will be in line with the proposal from earlier this year, illustrated by the map on the right. Motorised traffic will be prohibited in the inner parts of the fjord, within a line from Kapp Schoultz to the centre point of Kapp Murdoch. Outside this line, the fjord may be crossed using the shortest navigable route. When crossing areas covered by sea ice in accordance with this decision, it is prohibited to pause or to come to a complete stop, unless it is due to safety reasons or technical problems.
The Governor will uphold strengthened supervision in Tempelfjorden as well as other ice covered fjords in the time to come.