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Главная THE CHANGING BARENTS SEA: ENVIRONMENTAL STATUS AND DEVELOPING TRENDS
THE CHANGING BARENTS SEA: ENVIRONMENTAL STATUS AND DEVELOPING TRENDS Печать E-mail

DAHLE, S., MATISHOV, G., CARROLL, J.
Akvaplan-niva, Norway, Southern Scientific Centre RAS, Russia

The Barents Sea is the most productive of the Arctic shelf seas. Based on both phytoplankton and ice algae, the food webs of the Barents Sea sustain one of the world’s leading and largest fisheries, as well as a rich fauna of marine mammals and sea birds. Like most of the North Atlantic fisheries, the annual yields experienced considerable changes for the last decades (in the 1970s – 3-4 mln tons, in the early 1990s – less than 0.5 mln tons, in the recent years – around 1 mln tons). The warming of the recent years has resulted in species’ range extensions and an increase in salmon aquaculture along the Barents Sea coast while petroleum and gas activities are expanding both in the Norwegian and Russian sectors – rigs and underwater pipelines on the shelf, oil terminals and roadstead reloading complexes in the coastal zone, as well as new tanker transportation routes.

The recent 20 years there have been a warming tendency, mostly due to stronger influence of the North Atlantic current. As a consequence, several temperate species have become common, and the volume of aquaculture on salmon is strongly expanding along the Barents Sea coast. In recent decades petroleum industry activities have expanded northward both in the Norwegian and Russian sector of the Barents Sea in conjunction with the concomitant influences of high world energy demand and a warming climate with less sea ice, with further expansion projected for the foreseeable future.

This diversification of resource demands has intensified the global political and scientific discussion on how to balance environmental interests (preservation, protection, etc.) with the often conflicting needs of industries. The current regulatory framework in place to protect the Barents Sea ecosystem from adverse harm dictates that the fisheries industry adhere to traditional quotas or catch limits while petroleum operators both in Norwegian and Russian waters must comply with a ‘Zero Discharge Policy,’ which prohibit discharges of drilling wastes, produced water and other wastes related to the oil and gas activities. Other issues of relevance include correlation of natural and anthropogenic factors impacting the fisheries ecosystem; interaction between artificially cultivated and indigenous populations of salmon fish species in the coastal areas; the spread of alien species (Red King crab in particular); sensitivity/vulnerability to chemical contamination of arctic organisms; and the adequacy of current regulations for the protection of the Barents Sea ecosystem.

It is within this context that in recent years, research on the biology, physiology, ecology, and ecotoxicology of the Arctic has been reinvigorated. The overall aim of this presentation is to synthesize recent results from complimentary biological research fields that relate to assessing the vulnerability of marine ecosystems. We will attempt to clarify what is known today and the most pressing issues to be examined in the coming years. The presentation emphasizes issues affecting the trans-boundary coastal waters of both Russia and Norway. The research supports the necessity for joint environmental monitoring measures and legislative regulation of marine activities and the further development of a joint coastal zone management system for Norway and Russia.

OIL AND GAS OF ARCTIC SHELF 2008 

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