Regulations for Bouvetøya Nature Reserve

Bouvetøya (Bouvet Island) and its territorial waters were protected in 1971, making it the world’s most remote nature reserve. All activity on the island is strictly regulated.

seals and penguins

Furseals and penguins. Photo: Bjørn Frode Amundsen / Norwegian Polar Institute

The 1971 Regulation (forskrift av 17. desember 1971 nr. 9 om fredning av Bouvetøya og tilliggende territorialfarvann som naturreservat) states that the landscape is protected from all forms of physical disturbance such as road building, installation of buildings and constructions of any kind, or other activities that entail disturbance on the terrain or of the natural environment. However, installations required for management activities are allowed. Animal life, including birds’ nests and eggs, is protected throughout the year and it is forbidden to take dogs ashore. The plant life is to be protected from all damaging disturbance with exception of that caused by ordinary traffic. Off-road vehicles and the landing of aircrafts are prohibited without spesific permission.

Permission to land or stay on Bouvetøya is basically not required. However, in practice, helicopter is usually required to access Bouvetøya. The steep cliffs make landing by boat very difficult. There are few places where it is possible to go ashore, and the ocean swell will generally make it hazardous to land from a boat. The safest way of landing people and cargo is therefore by helicopter from a vessel. Since landing of helicopters on Bouvetøya is prohibited, a special permit from the Norwegian Polar Institute is required if use of helicopter nevertheless is deemed necessary for activity on the island.

Special regulations regarding the conduct of activities have also been introduced in the Nyrøysa area, where the CCAMLR monitoring takes place. Direct human disturbance must be avoided in this area to ensure the best possible monitoring results.

The spesific regulations relating to activity in the Nyrøysa area (Forskrift av 24. juni 2005 nr. 687 om ferdselsbegrensning i Nyrøysaområdet på Bouvetøya) states that from 1 November to 15 March it is only allowed to visit the Nyrøysa area in connection with environmental monitoring approved by the Norwegian Polar Institute. There are also special regulations regarding aircraft from 1 November to 1 May. The Norwegian Polar Institute can grant exemption from the stipulations laid down in the Regulation for research that cannot be performed elsewhere and does not come into conflict with the environmental monitoring. Visits to the Nyrøyse area for other purposes are not permitted in the period covered by the traffic ban.

The Norwegian Polar Institute can provide more details about the regulations and how to apply for exemption from them.

Apart from the field station in the Nyrøysa area, there is no infrastructure on the island, nor is there any local rescue service. All who wish to travel to Bouvetøya must therefore be self-sufficient with logistics and have the necessary state of preparedness to ensure their own safety. Bouvetøya is generally hidden in fog, so one must expect waiting before a helicopter can land there. Few places on the island are suitable for any form of activity and camping, and staying on the island will always be somewhat hazardous. The mountainsides are unstable and there is a considerable risk of landslides. The ice cap, which covers most of the island, has not been surveyed for crevasses.