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State visit to Australia: Opening of a seminar on the Antarctic

Opening remarks by His Majesty The King at seminar on the Antarctic at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney during a state visit to Australia 23 - 27 February 2015.

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

The Queen and I greatly appreciate the warm welcome we have received in Australia – both the warmth of the Australian people and the heat of the Australian climate.

The climate is a striking contrast to my visit two weeks ago to the Norwegian research station "Troll" in Queen Maud Land, on the Antarctic continent. The research and related logistical activities here play a key role in knowledge development in line with Norway’s polar policy. There is an urgent need to build up knowledge as a basis for protecting the vulnerable environment, and research at "Troll" makes a valuable contribution to international cooperation under the Antarctic Treaty system.

Norway and Australia are major marine and maritime nations, and also share experience as polar nations.

Since the 19th century, seafarers, explorers and scientists from our two countries have been involved in mapping and exploring Antarctica and adjacent waters and archipelagos. In the 1930s, Norway and Australia both presented sovereignty claims in Antarctica. We were two of the seven claimant nations that in 1959 signed the Antarctic Treaty, thus establishing peace and international cooperation as the underlying principles for the continent.

Our identity as a polar nation has two dimensions, northern and southern. The names and accomplishments of Norwegian pioneers in the polar regions are an integral part of our history and national identity. Australia also features in that history: in 1912, when Roald Amundsen returned from his conquest of the South Pole, his first port of call was Hobart in Tasmania.

Norway is a maritime nation. For more than a thousand years, people along the coast have lived by harvesting the resources of the sea. Norway has thus been building up experience of managing marine resources over many generations.

Today, Norway is a leading exporter of seafood. We estimate that 33 million meals of Norwegian seafood are served globally every day. And for the last two hundred years or so, Norwegian ships have plied the world’s oceans, playing a key role in world trade. More recently, we have used our maritime expertise to become a world leader in high tech solutions for offshore natural resource extraction.

Norway still depends heavily on the oceans. Sustainable management of marine resources is therefore crucial, whether in our own coastal waters, in neighbouring seas, or globally. Respect for the Law of the Sea and international cooperation to promote stability and predictability are also vital.

I wish you success in your deliberations today and thank you for your attention.



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King Harald opens seminar on the Antarctic in Sydney during a state visit to Australia 23 - 27 February 2015. Photo and edititing: Lise Åserud, NTB scanpix.