The environmental risks of oil and gas development in the region have been evaluated several times, and is a key environmental question facing the region. The focus of the debate is the risk of an accidental oil-spill during exploration or production. The consequences of such a spill depend on the activity, the location, time and potential exposure of environmental valuable species and areas. One of the environmental risks from future oil production can be associated with potential activities, which might influence near-shore areas, especially in ecologically valuable areas like the Lofoten-Islands and Pechora Sea. In addition, the Polar Oceanographic Front and the Ice Edge zone are particular sensitive areas.
Human activity - data from 2013
Vessel collisions or ship strikes may result in death or serious injury of marine mammals, i.e., massive trauma, hemorrhaging, broken bones, and propeller wounds. Collisions occur mainly with large whale species, small cetaceans (i.e., dolphins, narwhal, beluga), marine turtles, and sirenians (i.e., manatees, dugongs (Arctic Council, 2009).
Tourism is one of three focus areas for business in Svalbard, and has been so since the last White Paper Number 50 (1990-91) Næringstiltak på Svalbard (Measures for Economic development of Svalbard) was presented. Cruise tourism is a major part with high numbers of operators, vessels, and ships; the cruise tourism industry in Svalbard has increased considerably over the last 10-15 years transporting a large number of passengers. There are two types of vessels:
Transport of crude oil and other petroleum products from ports and terminals in Northwest Russia through the Barents Sea has been increasing over the last decade. In 2002, about 5 million tons of Russian oil was exported along the North-Norwegian coastline, in 2004, the volume reached almost 12 million tons, but dropped the following year; during 2005 to 2013, levels of export ranged between 9 and 12 million tons per year. In a five-ten year perspective, the total
Aquaculture is a growing industry along the coasts of northern Norway and Russia; there are several commercial fish farms producing salmonids (salmon, and trout), white fish (mainly cod), and shellfish. Aquaculture is dominated by salmon and trout. Norwegian farmed Atlantic salmon accounts for over half of the world’s salmon supply. While landed catch has in general shown a declining trend, aquaculture production has increased steadily (FAO, 2013).
In December 2013, the Murmansk regional government decreed that the role of tourism in economic and socio-cultural development of the region should be increased. Cruise tourism is recognized as a key area for further development. To develop the infrastructure to ensure regular marine passenger transport, the “Arctic Harbor” investment project will be implemented. Within the project’s framework, a range of improvements are planned, including: reconstruction of
Future shipping activities depend considerably on the expansion rate of the oil-and-gas related industry in the northern areas, which in turn depends on both regional and global economic developments. Global warming and a subsequent increase of ice-free shipping routes through Arctic waters could also significantly contribute to increase of shipping traffic.