Uncovering environmental pollution and mapping invasive species using ROVs

Thursday, June 30, 2022 / Blueye Office

All governments need to make sure the public follows their laws and regulations. The ocean space is no exception. In Norway, we have several institutes monitoring and performing continuous supervision below the surface to ensure businesses follow the decisions, objectives, and guidelines set out by the Storting and government.

We’ve previously written about The Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries and how they supervise the aquaculture- and fisheries industry in Norway (NO), but let’s look at how the County Governor and the Institute of Marine Research are monitoring the ocean space using underwater ROVs.

Tonnes of car tires found on the seabed – receives millions in fines

Ragn-Sells is a large Swedish corporation that primarily delivers waste management services. One of their services is recycling car tires which they in this case store outside at their location in Bamble, Norway. During an unannounced supervision, the County Governour in Vestfold municipality in Norway found over 30 tonnes of car tires cut into pieces and spread out on the seafloor.

This is one of the largest fines related to plastic pollution in Norway. It is an important message to other businesses and organizations to have control of their assets. - Per-Erik Schulze, Advisor in Naturvernforbudet. Quote originally from nrk.no.

The supervision with an ROV from Blueye led to a 1,5 million NOK fine to Ragn-Sells for environmental pollution.

The County Governor in Trøndelag has also aquired an ROV for supervision purposes and received their Blueye X3 ROV earlier this year. They've spent a day with our top ROV instructors, and now their team is fully equipped to monitor and supervise below the surface.

The County Governor in Trøndelag visiting Blueye Robotics
The County Governor in Trøndelag visiting Blueye Robotics.

We've used the Blueye ROV to check how far down pipes were located and if this matched with the information we received. We could easily confirm that they were not located where they were described to be. - Carina Ulsund, The County Governor in Trøndelag, Norway

Aquatic invasion of Marine Vomit discovered in Norwegian harbours

It’s not only businesses such as Ragn-Sells on our governmental institutes' radars. Invasive aquatic species such as Marine Vomit are also closely monitored along the Norwegian coastline.

Marine Vomit (Didemnum vexillum) was first discovered in Norwegian harbors by divers in 2020. It originates from Japan and is probably transported across international waters by clinging to ships, smaller boats, or other floating items such as ropes or jetties. Marine vomit is unwanted because it can take over more extensive parts of the seafloor, suffocating other local species and putting the environment at risk.

Both the Norwegian Environment Agency, the County Governor, the Institute of Marine Research, and others are working closely together to prevent the further invasion of Marine Vomit. Mapping of its extent along the Norwegian coastline is ongoing, and part of the mapping is completed with ROVs.

Marine Vomit mapped with a Blueye ROV by Børge Alfstad at the Institute of Marine Research in Norway.

The video above is captured by the Institute of Marine Research in Norway with a Blueye ROV. Having an ROV at hand enables anyone in their organization to head out to a location, drop the ROV in the water, and quickly get an overview of the seabed and uncover the reach of unwanted species.

If you should come across Marine Vomit during one of your dives, please take photos and report to the Institute of Marine Research.

Do you want to learn more about ROVs used for these types of missions? Feel free to get in touch with us by filling out the form below.

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