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Lofoten and Vesteraalen

Storegg jr

"Storegg jr." docking at Ellingsøy.

Photo: Gunnar Sætra, HI

The sea and coastal area around Lofoten and Vesterålen is unique. The islands protrude far into the sea, breaking up the ocean currents. This is how the nutrient-rich water from the deep sea is pushed up to the surface. Strong winds mix the water well together. The midnight sun makes the production of phytoplankton occur around the clock. 

These factors mean that Lofoten and Vesterålen are an area rich in diverse marine life: it grows and grows at every stage of the food chain. Here is a great diversity of species.

The water from the deep sea is nutrient-rich, but if the ocean currents go deep, little light is released, and thus the biological production becomes small. But when this water is pushed up off Lofoten and Vesterålen, with sun around the clock, a huge biological production starts: phytoplankton bloom up and give the zooplankton a lot to eat. The zooplankton are again important food for the fish – which gives those at the top of the food chain dinner; seals, whales and us humans.

At the intersection of the Norwegian Sea in the south and the Barents Sea in the north, conditions are well placed for the fish to carry the species forward. Lofoten and Vesterålen are the area where our most important fish stocks migrate to spawn, like the cod (Northeast Arctic cod / skrei). The skrei is the basis for the traditional Lofoten fishery.

After spawning, fish eggs and larvae drift with the currents up to the Barents Sea, where they grow up.

What happens in the sea area around Lofoten and Vesterålen has major implications for ecosystems in the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea.