Summary of Working Paper No. 123-1998

II.4.2 The Distribution, Population Status and Ecology of Marine Birds selected as Valued Ecosystem Components in the Northern Sea Route Area

By Maria Gavrilo, Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, St.Petersburg, Russia; Vidar Bakken and Kjell Isaksen, Norwegian Polar Institute, Tromsø, Norway (eds) et al.

This report is a contribution within the framework of the INSROP Project II.4. Environmental Atlas. 2. Marine Birds. It contains a review of available data on waterbirds concerning their seasonal distribution, numbers, migration, biological peculiarities and vulnerability in relation to different kinds of human impacts related to the navigation along the Northern Sea Route. Other papers issued within the project II.4.2. (see Working Paper No. 60 1996 and Working Paper No. 97 1997) made a considerable contribution to this work. This report is also closely connected to the INSROP Project II.5 Environment Impact Assessment. The data are presented as a series of articles and distribution maps. All the distribution data are implemented into the INSROP GIS system to be used as a basis for the Environmental Impact Assessment.

INSROP Project II.4. Environmental Atlas. 2. Marine Birds, deals with birds that have been found to be highly vulnerable to human impacts connected to the NSR activity. Species and groups of species to be considered as Valued Ecosystem Components (VECs) were selected during previous work according to the AEAM process (see INSROP WP 60). The NSR related impacts to be considered in this work are as follows: pollution including waste, disturbance, and social and cultural factors. The assessment of vulnerability of waterbirds inhabiting the NSR area in relation to oil pollution has been conducted (INSROP WP 97), whilst the possible influence of other potential factors has not been evaluated yet. The latter impact depends on scenarios of the NSR activities, and on development of land-based infrastructure in particular. However, these scenarios are not clear yet.

The presented information about distribution, numbers, phenology, food habits and breeding biology of the marine birds inhabiting the NSR area can be used as a basis for the Environmental Impact Assessment. However we should stress that there is an obvious lack of data on the non-breeding period of the birds lives, especially at sea. It is the period spent in marine areas that is suggested to be the most vulnerable during the annual cycle. The quantitative data are also not good enough to make accurate modelling and assessment at the local sites considered to be important areas within the NSR region.