Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 522

522 Arctic Yearbook 2014 The empirical qualitative material used in this study is from the democratic decision-making in Norwegian society regarding the development and implementation of the management of the ecosystem in the Barents Sea (see Figure 2). Key areas at sea are at stake for lots of different stakeholders, local communities and interest groups in the Norwegian society. In regard to international collaboration between the national states in the Arctic region, petroleum and fish are treated as common resources divided between the national states of Russia, Denmark, Iceland and Norway. The national states’ sovereignty over sea areas and the property rights over natural resources depend on international and bilateral recognition of borders at sea between national states. The Norwegian state policy of gaining legitimacy in the international community consists of using international agreements regarding managing sea areas, ecosystem management and the world heritage in the Barents Sea. This political process of decision-making has resulted in a national controversy within local communities, the government and parliament regarding conflicts between the development of petroleum, the fisheries and the world heritage status (Kristoffersen, 2011, Andersen, 2011, Sande, 2013). This briefing report is an attempt to analyze the democratic decision-making regarding the use of the key areas for large scale ecosystem planning. The question then is as follows: Does government based ecosystem management planning provide an institutional framework for solving the conflicting interests between oil drilling and the conservation of large areas of the Arctic Ocean? National states govern large ecosystems, governing all human use of natural resources (Berkes, Colding & Folke, 2003: 75). The challenge for national governance is to integrate and coordinate international, national, regional and local interest groups in decision-making and implementing environmental policy (Jentoft, 1998, Carlsson, 2008). National governments have the political task of making decisions amongst conflicting human interests in regard to the exploitation of natural resources, creating a balance between different political goals, and finding solutions to social problems and conflicts of interests. The task of developing an environmental policy is a national obligation as a consequence of the ratification of international agreements, such as the Rio Declaration and UNESCO agreements (Ulstein, 2001; Hovi & Underdal, 2008; Sande, 2013). The methods used in this study are based on participant observation in national decisionmaking and a qualitative study of public documents (Sande, 2013). National Government and Holistic Ecosystem Management of the Barents Sea In 1980 the Norwegian Parliament opened the Barents Sea for oil drilling and exploitation. The sea area is south of 74 degrees north, which is now the limit of sea ice in wintertime. The Norwegian government has given 53 permits for oil drilling and exploitation in the Barents Sea. International oil companies have drilled 86 wells and discovered several fields for the production of oil and gas (Ministry of Oil and Energy, White Paper nr. 28, 2010-2011: 104). Accordi