Marine habitats are important as the living space for the organisms that constitute the biodiversity and support the fisheries in Norway. These habitats are subject to a number of activities that can influence their quality and distribution. Foremost amon g these are the fishing and offshore petroleum industries with impacts from trawling, drilling, pipelines, and pollution. The long-term sustainability of Norwegian fisheries depends on the ecological functioning and integrity of the marine habitats. Furth er our national polity on environmental conservation recommends that a representative selection of Norwegian natural habitats should be given protection; marine biodiversity represents a huge resource for future use in new and innovative ways.
With few e xceptions, there are no habitat maps from the Norwegian Sea. Only course regional scale bathymetry exists for most areas, and detailed seabed sediment maps exist only for some small isolated regions. SUSHIMAP aims to develop a rapid, reliable and cost-eff icient procedure for the mapping and monitoring of seabed habitats, by integrating medium- and fine-scale data using visual and sediment-grab methods with large-scale bathymetric and backscatter data obtained by multibeam echosounding. SUSHIMAP shall defi ne a procedure for seabed habitat mapping on the Norwegian Shelf and a long-term plan for monitoring of marine habitats.