NGU maps geology and seafloor conditions on Norway's coastal and marine areas. This data is used by decision makers to assess their value and demarcate the boundaries of the protected areas. The Røst Reef, as an example, is one of the world's largest cold water coral reefs. NGU was the first to map this in detail and demonstrate the correlation between the reef's geological characteristics and its unique natural features. As a result, Norwegian authorities introduced regulations to protect the reef.
The Røst Reef occurs on the shelf close to an ancient submarine slide, that has disrupted the landscape and split it up into numerous ridges. Countless corals grow on top of these ridges and on the continental shelf behind the edge of the slide. Another example, the Sula Reef, is also located on top of a rock ridge that rises up from the surrounding seafloor. A proposed conservation area at Bleikdsdjupet includes a large submarine canyon on the continental margin, where deep cold water currents are being channeled to a confined area and towards the ocean surface.
In the management plans for the Barents Sea and the ocean areas outside Lofoten (2005) and the Norwegian Sea (2009), some areas have been given the status of "extremely valuable" because of the biological uniqueness. One of these is the continental shelf break between the continental shelf and continental slope.