Practice and perspectives of estimation of the marine fields exploitation on avifauna Печать E-mail

Murmansk Marine Biological Institute RAS World Wildlife Fund/Russian Branch

The aim of this work is to discuss separate ecological monitoring aspects which accompany the oil-gas exploitation on the Arctic shelf including existing practice of environmental impact assessment (EIA) preparation and carrying out public hearings on EIA.

The major stress in this case is made on the estimation of impact to which the avifauna of the oil field exploration area is subjected. Some more general problems are also tackled.

Analysis of the normative base determining ecological accompany of gas and oil excavation on the Russia shelf revealed many gaps. Among major ones there should be pointed out lack of requirements to the grounding of the amount of the ecological investigations (used or planned for carrying out during the ecological accompany of the designs) at different stages of the exploration and exploitation of the field; lack of demands and recommendations to the amount of information necessary for the ecological accompany of such works (Dukhno. 2004). hi fact, the amount of the ecological investigations during carrying out of engineer-ecological research, investigations on EIA and at the organization of ecological monitoring in every concrete case is the result of compromise between the customer and executor, between the means allocated and the requirements of the sufficient fullness and quality of the material. As the result, the estimation of the background state of the environment in some cases is earned out based on the minimum of financial expenditures. It is manifested itself to the brightest degree at the information collection on the most vulnerable to different contamination forms link of marine ecosystems - on birds. There occur cases when the customer of engineer-ecological research. EIA or ecological monitoring refuses to finance the information collection on the part of investigations accounting refusal by high price of the works. Due to these reasons sea birds investigations in the off- sea areas are relatively frequently in the frames of given designs carried out by non-profile organizations and incompetent specialists. At the same time effective mechanism of the scientific reviewing of the collected data and written on their basis materials of the engineer- ecological research. EIA or ecological monitoring in our country is absent.

Legislative mechanisms of the public participation (including scientific community and competent specialists from non-engaged scientific organizations) in the plans discussion of shelf fields’ development and oil transportation are rather limited. One of such mechanisms are public hearings. Practice for their conduct is rather scarce in our country, hi spite of this. on the examples of the public hearings by 2 projects capable influence significantly the Barents and the White Sea avifauna it is quite possible to estimate effectiveness and subsequent perspectives of this mechanisms.

At the end of April and the start of May in the cities of Moscow and Nar'yan -Mar the public hearings on Pre EIA have been carried out - preliminary estimation of the environmental assessment at the Prirazlomnoe oil field exploration. During discussion the very important significance of marine shallow-water areas adjacent to the Prirazlomnoe oil field for the marine and aquatic birds was noted. Migration routes of hundreds of thousands of sea ducks from the West Siberian tundra to the wintering places near the Kola Peninsula, Northern Norway and in the coastal areas of the North Sea areas are laid through the oil field areas. The largest on the European North of Russia molting places of marine aquatic birds are located here.

Estimation of the background avifauna state of the Pechora Sea is earned out by the Ltd. «FRECOM» and is presented in the report «Exploration of the Prirazlomnoe oil field. Preliminary variant of the materials. Estimations of the environmental impact» - subsequently «Pre EIA» (Exploration ..., 2004). This estimate reflects far from the full degree the current state of the level of investigations the Pechora Sea avifauna. Moreover, the maps of ornithological fauna location in the Pechora Sea area presented in the report on the Public hearings and in the volume «Pre EIA» differ principally. In the report presented on the public hearings the map from the book «Atlas of the Pechora Sea birds: distribution, dynamics-protection problems» (Krasnov et al., 2002) was presented where as in the «Pre EIA volume» another one. causing doubts in the degree of professional competence of the authors preparing it, was given.

From the detailed and attentive analysis of the presented to the public volume of «Pre EIA» other not less important conclusions follow. In the given report the ornithological materials presented do not allow to get a full impression on the seasonal and inter-annual dynamics of the commonest birds species in the Pechora Sea. Thus, the background state description of this area made up on the basis of the limited data with minimal financial support does not meet the requirements of the problems raised. Investigations of the objects with such high dynamics like sea birds demand adequate observations methods, frequently remote sensing methods applying airplanes-laboratories (Krasnov et al., 2004).

Investigations of the background environmental state (independent on the degree of the investigations of the area) are to be earned out taking into consideration a possibility of the significant variability of climatic and oceanological conditions typical of the Arctic seas. This demands carrying out of the annual ecological surveys during several years, hi the Barents Sea area the background state of the Pechora Sea ornithological fauna is the most well investigated. It should be noted that the Pechora Sea avifauna investigations are earned out by the group of the enthusiasts, the greater part of these works has not been financed by the joint-stock company «Sevmomeftegaz» To carry out such amount of works during 1-2 ship surveys is simply impossible. It should be borne in mind that while conducting EIA of the Stockman gas-condensate field the situation will sharpen more. For the investigations of the Barents Sea eastern part aviation observations of the whole annual cycles for several years are of vital importance.

From the amendment of the «Pre EIA» materials (the list of the major scientific and research works) it follows that at the preparation of EIA 44 scientific reports will be used. Analysis of this list shows that ecological aspects are included only in 5 among them, moreover, engineering-ecological studies were earned out only once - by the Institute of Oceanology RAS in 2003. Although the Collection of rules 11-102-97 (p. 4.84) states: «Changes of abundance and other changes of the fauna connected with anthropogenic impact are to be estimated on the basis of long-term observations for the decade (10 years) period» (Collection of rules 11-102-97, 1997). In the report «Pre EIA» it is noted that starting since 1996 on the investigated area a complex of ecological-engineering studies (the last - in September 2003 by institute of Oceanology RAS) is carried out.

From the Appendix 1 it follows that ecological investigations in the Pechora Sea during winter period are limited by 1997 and 1999. One more report - «Estimation of the biota current state for the purposes of Technical-Economical Grounding for the Agreement of the Production Division of the Prirazlomnoe field; MMBI KSC RAS, 2001» contains voluminous data (since the middle 1980s) for the whole south-eastern part of the Barents Sea not always referring to the concrete areas of the planned economic activity. From everything enumerated above it follows that on the one hand the amount of special ecological investigations on which Pre EIA and subsequent EIA of the Prirazlomnoe field is based is somehow limited. On the other hand, the whole material devoted to the ecological investigations of the area of works, including that on the avifauna, is not used. In any case the grounding for the sufficiency of the amount of ecological information available used for EIA lacks.

Significant disadvantages are revealed during he preparation of another project. At the beginning of April 2003 there took place the discussion by the public of the Onega town the project of the anchor station of the tanker-accumulator in the town of Onega on the White Sea. Expert commission gave a positive conclusion on the working documentation for the «Anchor station of the tanker-accumulator on the own anchor in the town of Onega area on the White Sea». In the latter the completely non-corresponding to the reality characteristic of the ornithological fauna in the area under investigation is given. «On the Onega bay area from November till the middle of April large areas for wintering of eiders are observed. Autumnal and spring accumulations of aquatic and swamp birds are not observed.

The conclusions presented are referred to one of the best studied marine basins. Quite probably the author heard nothing on the existing of the White Sea-Baltic flying route by which hundreds of thousands of sea birds migrate and this testifies to the degree of his professional preparation. But the significant part of the transitional staying the birds-migrants carry out in July-October on the Onega Bay area. It is well-known that the major reproduction areas of sea and aquatic birds of the White Sea are located on the Kandalaksha and Onega bays area. Among nesting birds the most common is eider, which might be considered a peculiar visiting card of the White Sea. According to different expert estimates eider abundance might be approximately 40-60 thousand specimens. The White Sea eider population spends winter usually on the two Onega Bay areas: in the stationary polyn'ya to the south of the Solovets archipelago and in the polyn'yas system of the Soroka shallow-water area.

The reason for mentioning November-April period is quite clear. Oil products transportation will be earned out only from May up to September. But the author does not have any idea that molting of eider is not the least important period of life that wintering. In this period of time the majority of males of the whole White Sea population (and with a part of females) is going to molt in the Onega Bay. That is why an accidental situation connected with the oil-products spills (or chronic pollution) in the area under discussion might both: directly and indirectly affect the White Sea population of eider during the vulnerable for it period of time.

From the materials presented here concerning the impact of given projects on the marine ornithological fauna it is quite evident the common for both of them problem: professional incompetence of the authors preparing final reports.

In Russia environmental impact assessment is prepared only for a concrete technical design. Cumulative impact on the environment of several designs earned out either simultaneously or separately in the Barents Sea lacks. Neither there is a clear impression by whom, by which means and in what way will this work be earned out.

Thus, from the point of view of the ecological constituent of the designs the explorations plans for the shelf fields and oil transportation in our country are developed in spontaneously, strategic ecological and the unique integral approach to the planning of works lack. In this essence the public hearings are the only mechanism of impact to the departmental and corporate positions of the expert organs and excavation companies. The evident use of carrying out public hearings for the sides interested is necessary to mention as the part of the revealed during hearings short-comings might be at the wish eliminated, hi spite of this some profanation during their preparation is to be noted. Information on the place and time when the hearings take place is known to the limited number of persons, its accessibility for the public through Internet is evidently insufficient. In future it would be preferably for the initiators of holding such public hearings to distribute much wider the information on them in mass media and to invite much more actively competent specialists. The excavating companies will gain success in this case.

Normative-technical base on which EIA carrying out is based also demands polishing. In particular, for the most important and dangerous objects or/ and for the areas with a higher ecological vulnerability the obligatory to our opinion must be grounding of the completeness and sufficiency of the ecological information applied referring to the area of location of the designed object.

Dukhno G N. Some problems of the normative- legislative providing the ecological accompany of oil- gas development on Russia shelf // Materials of the XXII conference of young scientists of MMBI (Murmansk April 2004). Murmansk: MMBI KSC RAS. 2004. P. 30-36. (in Russian)
Krasnov Yu. V., Goiyaev Yu. I., Shavykin A. A., Nikolaeva N. G, Gavrilo M. V., Chernook V. I. Atlas of the Pechora Sea birds: distribution, abundance, dynamics, protection problems. Apatity: KSC RA.S. 2002. 164 pp. (in Russian)
Krasnov Yu. V., Chernook V. L, Gavrilo M. V., Shavykin A. A.,Tereshchenko V. A. Application of airplanes-laboratories for the marine birds and mammals monitoring on the Arctic seas areas // Zool. journal. V. 83, N 3. P. 330-341. (In Russian)
Exploration of the Prirazlomnoe oil field. Preliminary variant of materials of the environmental impact assessment. M.: "FRECOM" Ltd., 2004. 106 pp. (https://www.frecom.ru) (In Russian)
Collection of rules 11-102-97. Engineering- ecological studies for the construction/ Gosstroy of Russia. M.: PNIIIS Gosstroy of Russia. 1997. P. 47. (in Russian)



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