FRECOM LLC, Russia, Polar Research Institute of Marine Fisheries and Oceanography (PINRO), Russia

Investigations conducted by PINRO and FRECOM have included integrated environmental engineering survey (EES) of all areas, functionally linked to the planned development of Shtokman Gas and Condensate Field, i.e. ShGCF area, offshore pipeline route, outlet end of the pipeline route in the Opasova Bay, LNG plant sites with auxiliaries at the cost of the Teriberka Bay.

The EES aim was to assess baseline state of the environment and biota over the license area of ShGCF and its development infrastructure, and to collect necessary data for environmental substantiation of the planned business activity at the designing stage.

Coastal regions are especially vulnerable to any negative impact, these regions being usually the habitat of young (baby) fishes and invertebrates, their spawning and fattening. High species diversity, characteristic of the littoral zones, is another factor increasing the vulnerability of these areas.

In the course of environmental surveys of the littoral and sublittoral of the Opasova, Teriberka, Orlovka, Zavalishina, Dolgaya bays and adjacent water areas, 50 oceanographic stations were examined with water sampling for determination of hydrochemical parameters, over 60 samples of water, soil, fish and invertebrates were studied for pollution. Samples of bacterial, phyto- and zooplankton were taken repeatedly, in the two-fold seasonal sequence. Ichthyo-plankton survey of the water areas under study was performed in spring, in the period of mass hatching of main types of commercial fish. Line trawls and nets, angling stations were used to study the fish community. A grid of acoustic tacks was used in three-fold seasonal sequence to evaluate the number and biomass of fishes distributed in the area.

Communities of bottom invertebrates and algae were studied with participation of skin-divers. Bottom traps were set to study distribution of the king crab (Paralithodes camtschatica).

In field operations, it was necessary to take into consideration actual, sometimes unfavorable weather conditions, breakers, tidal-ebb currents and other factors which resulted in insignificant correction of the preliminary developed survey program.
As result of survey it was discovered that the study area is an area of distribution of bottom-dwelling fish – cod, haddock and pollack. Summer bringing of Atlantic herring babies and autumn bringing of big specimen of this fish was also recorded.

Survey results show the diversity of biota both in the littoral and sublittoral zones. In catches and collections from these waters considerable amount of hydrobionts were found with king crab, urchin, Iceland scallop, commercial types of algae being most numerous and significant among them.

Based on the analysis of the obtained materials, maps of spatial distribution of hydrological and hydrochemical parameters and living organisms were generated. Certain peculiarities of the migration behavior of fish and invertebrates were analyzed. It was determined that the level of the background pollution of the bottom sediments, fishes and invertebrates is relatively low.

In the course of the field operations performed in the summer and autumn of 2008, extensive material was collected, which makes it possible to assess the current status of the land and aquatic biota and its habitats in the area of the planned construction of the port complex, pipeline, LNG plant, and on the adjacent territory.

As result of the fauna studies, all species of land fauna of the environmental engineering survey (EES) objects were identified. The following was recorded: 1 species of amphibians, 1 species of reptiles, 38 species of birds and 7 species of mammals. Registered in the red Book of Murmansk Oblast common lizard, eider duck and great cormorant were found.

Seabirds in the region under study include mostly common species, which form small temporary groups in the areas adjacent to the EES objects. Two small rookeries are recorded as permanent groups. The most significant component of the tundra avifauna includes small perching birds (meadow pipit, willow warbler, redwing, blue-throated robin, chat, and redpoll) which find safe lees in the landscape elements. Anthropogenic disturbance and presence of stray dogs are the main factors limiting the species diversity and number of birds in the area of survey.

Due to high level of the disturbance factor and anthropogenic pressure, big mammals are very scanty in the area of survey. Carnivorous animals are represented by common fox, American mink; entry of reindeer and bear is possible. The main part of fauna includes small mammals, representatives of the rodent order, – lemmings and voles. Small amount of animal species on the territory of the EES objects is a standard phenomenon, characteristic of the Eastern Murman coast.

Study of the freshwater biota enabled to make a conclusion that the species diversity and quantitative indicators of benthos fauna, and consequently, of the drift, are low even in the periods of its highest seasonal development. This is quite normal for ultra-oligotrophic and oligotrophic water bodies of the tundra zone. In the zoobenthos and drift samples, representatives of the total amount of nine taxons of aquatic and amphibian organisms were found: dipteran, caddis flies, coleopteras (beetle), caddis flies, ephemeral flies, stoneflies, mosquito hawks, mollusks, oligochaetes and amphipods.

On the whole, the quantitative and qualitative composition of the benthos and, consequently, of the drift, is characteristic of watercourses located in the tundra zone. Average number of drift organisms in the Orlovka river amounted to 7600 specimens/m2/hour, biomass – 4.87 g/m2/hour. As it could be expected, the drift in the streams located in the area of survey was much poorer compared to the Orlovka river both in the quantitative and qualitative respect.

Ichthyofauna in water bodies and watercourses of the area under survey is characterized by low diversity, but at the same time by high value of species, and includes Atlantic salmon, various types of trout and stoneloach. Of less valuable species, eelpout, thornback and nine-spined stickleback can be found here.

Salmon is present in the Orlovka river and streams – its tributaries in the lower reach, and also in the channel lake Orlovskoye. It is also safe to say that salmon spawns in the channel connecting the First Titovskoye Lake and the Zavalishin Bay; it is possible that in the pre-spawning period, spawning salmon migrants stay in the Opasovskoye, Titovskiye and Granovityie lakes.

Trout and stoneloach populate the largest water reservoirs and watercourses – Opasovskoye, Titovskiye and Granovitye lakes. Their number is too low for commercial fishing; therefore these water bodies are just recreational ones. The only anthropogenic load on the population of these types of fish is fishing by sport fishermen. Fishing is most active in the Titovskiye lakes, as they are closest to the settlements of Teriberka and Lodeinoye. This is confirmed in full by the results of the test fishing: relative amount of fish is increasing with the distance of water bodies from the settlements.

Therefore, the remote lakes Opasovskoye and Titovskoye, and two small ones were selected as the model water bodies for assessment of the population parameters and potential amount of fish.

Majority of the water bodies of the Kola Peninsula are characterized by extremely low trophicity because of significant humification. For example, the lake stock includes mostly oligotrophic and dystrophic water bodies, fish capacity of which does not exceed 2-3 kg/hectare, and only in the south and south-east of the region there are insignificant amount of mesotrophic and eutrophic lakes, fish capacity of which is 10 kg/hectare and more. Based on the results of our studies, we suggest to set the initial level of fish capacity in the lakes equal to 3.5 kg/hectare.

Investigation of hydrochemical parameters, including determination of the levels of concentration of micro- and macro-elements, pesticides, hydrocarbons in the surface water sample from the mouth of the Orlovka river at the place of its inflow into the Orlovka Bay (taken in 2008), proves the complete compliance of the received results with the established fishery standards. Analysis of water from the Teriberka River made earlier, in 2006, also showed compliance of its quality with the effective fishery standards.

In the general environmental respect, existing aquatic bio-communities are stable. One can observe usual seasonal changes in the species and quantitative structure of the zoobenthos and drift, standard population parameters of the local reserves of salmon and stoneloach. No signs of digression or succession have been recorded. Anthropogenic impact is realized only by periodic fishing performed by the local sport fishermen, which does not cause any noticeable environmental damage.

55 complete geobotanical descriptions were prepared for the flora of the EES region. No unique plant associations were found on the territory under study, though certain rare species of plants can be met.

The environmental engineering survey in the framework of the integrated offshore engineering surveys performed for designing of the ShGCF development facilities at the feasibility study stage in 2008 include offshore and aerial operations, office processing of the survey data, comparison of the 2008 survey data with the archival and literary data, and preparation of the reporting materials.
Offshore surveys in the Barents Sea are performed by 6 expeditions on the ships belonging to PINRO equipped with the necessary devices and instruments in the period of January-November of 2008.

As of the end of October of 2008, all operations planned for the winter, spring and summer sub-stages in the Barents Sea over the license area of the Shtokman GCF and along the designed gas pipeline route were performed in full.

In accordance with the trip assignment and EES program, 23 stations along the route of the main gas pipeline were realized from the research ship Vilnius in the period from the July 26 to the August 4. They included 11 integrated stations and 12 stations for sampling of the bottom sediments. At these stations oceanographic surveys, sampling of water for determination of chemical composition and pollution, sampling for phytopigments, phytoplankton and zooplankton were performed. Theriological and ornithological observations were also performed during the ship move.

Studies of hydrobionts in the seven-mile zone in the area of the Teriberka and Opasova bays were performed from the board of the research ship “Professor Boiko” during the summer sub-stage of the offshore EES (1, 10-12 of July). They were aimed at evaluation of the peculiarities of distribution, length frequency and biological status of the king crab and commercial fish. 6 short trap orders, one skin-diver cession and 6 angling stations were realized during the survey.

In the period of August 8–12, 2008, aerial observations were performed from the board of the laboratory airplane L-410 over the water area adjacent to the main gas pipeline route, 100 km wide from the ShGCF (including the license area) to the boundary of the territorial waters in the area of the Opasova bay, and also the water area in the coastal 100 km zone close to the Kola Peninsula and 200km zone at the western coast of Novaya Zemlya from the Matochkin Strait to the island of Kolguev. The total extent of the continuous observations amounted to 6,650 km, the area of actually surveyed water area including the swath – 3,990 km2.

At present, the materials of the survey are under preliminary processing. The autumn sub-stage of the offshore EES including the survey package similar to the above described and performed on the research ship “Vilnius”, will be realized from the research ship “Nansen” over the designed gas pipeline route and ShGCF license area during the last ten-day period of November.



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