Historically, management by sector and uncoordinated plans for development have lowered effectiveness of some types of ocean use activities; this has led to latent conflicts and negative ecological consequences for marine resources in Russia. Hence, a Strategy for the Development of maritime activities of the Russian Federation for the period up to 2030 was approved by the Federal Government in December, 2010 (№ 2205-p); this Strategy guides the development of
various marine use activities under an "integrated management of marine resources" umbrella. This Strategy incorporates a number of tools to better utilize and develop marine resources, including:
- Government directives specifying tasks to develop a pilot project for the integrated management of natural resources in the Arctic seas and to implement it in the Russian zone of the Barents Sea
- Research and development for a pilot project on marine spatial planning to support optimal utilization of marine resources in the Russian zone of the Barents Sea, while maintaining a safe level of biodiversity in the ecosystem. This project was completed in May 2015, and involved Joint Stock Company Sevmorgeo, PINRO, MMBI, AARI, VNII Ecology, and WWF-Russia; it was based on 2 key documents:
- Norwegian integrated marine management plan for the Barents Sea (2006) https://www.regjeringen.no/globalassets/upload/md/vedlegg/stm200520060008en_pdf.pdf
- Guidelines for Marine Spatial Planning of International Oceanographic Commission UNESCO (2009). http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001865/186559e.pdf.
Implementation of the above-mentioned documents has led to a process for creation of an Integrated Marine Management Plan for the Russian Zone of the Barents Sea. Key components of the plan include:
- Evaluating goals and tasks of the Plan
- Estimating temporal (2020-2030) and spatial limits for the Plan
- Determining current and predicted state of the ecosystem — abiotic (air, water and sediment) and biotic (from zooplankton to marine mammals and seabirds) components
- Estimating current and future development of anthropogenic maritime activity (ports, shipping, fishery, aquaculture, oil and gas development, municipal waste water treatment plants, navy activity, protected areas, tourism, recreation, pollution)
- Mapping ecosystem parameters and anthropogenic activity in ArcGIS with subsequent evaluation of the conflicts between sectors as well as between the anthropogenic activities and integrated seasonal levels of biodiversity of two trophic levels (plankton-benthos and fish-seabirds-marine mammals)
- Suggestions and recommendations to;
- Improve the Russian environmental legal framework
- Implement ecological boundaries for fishing, shipping, and oil and gas related activities
- Develop protected areas, including measures for protection of rare and vulnerable species
- Integrate monitoring of Plan implementation, including the comprehensive monitoring of the Barents Sea ecosystem state and monitoring of industry compliance to ecological boundaries.
Analyses of sector-related strategic documents for current and future (2020-2030) economic development indicate that the main impacts on the Barents Sea ecosystem in the Russian zone will be through the rapidly increasing maritime shipping industry. There are plans to increase annual shipping along the Northern Sea Route up to 63,700 thousand tons by 2020. Given that freight traffic was only 1,160 thousand tons in 2013, this projects an increase of more than 54 times (+ 5,391.38%). A substantial increase in cargo turnover is planned for existing ports (Murmansk, Arkhangelsk, and Vitino) in addition to the construction of new ports at: Teriberka; Indiga; Amderma; Linahamari; MSLP "Prirazlomnaja"; Varandey oil terminal in the Barents Sea; as well as Sabetta, New Port, and Arctic oil terminals in Ob Bay of the Kara Sea. These plans are expected to result in overall increased shipping activity in Russian waters of the Barents Sea: up to 4 times more by 2020; and up to 6.5 times more by 2030.
Development of oil and gas activity is estimated according to operator’s license agreements up to 2024 for the relevant license areas. Under these license agreements, there are no plans to introduce new oil and gas wells in the area during the period up to 2024. The main activity in licensed areas will be seismic: 2D – 48,200 linear km; 3D - 21,650 square km, prospecting (drilling 27 wells); and exploratory (drilling 7 wells).
In coming years, a significant increase in production of commercial aquaculture in the coastal zone of Kola Peninsula is anticipated. Thus, according to the Strategy for the Development of the Murmansk region, production volume is expected to increase from 16.3 thousand tons in 2012 to 98.9 thousand tons in 2025, i.e., 6 times.
An important component of the management plan was to define areas with spatial conflicts between anthropogenic activities and integrated seasonal biodiversity levels. It was determined that the biodiversity maxima are typically observed during the 3rd quarter (July - September) and localized along the coast of Kola Peninsula, in the Pechora Sea, and along the Novaya Zemlya archipelago (Figures 6.3.1 and 6.3.2).
Based on studies conducted, a number of regulatory suggestions and recommendations have been developed for integrated ecosystem-based management in the Russian zone of the Barents Sea.
1. For marine protected areas, situated:
- In the territorial sea; it is necessary to introduce a unilateral ban on free navigation of ships through a binding document for navigators "Notice to Mariners";b. In the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) areas where sea ice is present "for most of the year", a unilateral ban on free navigation of ships should be introduced
- In other EEZ areas, a request to IMO should be prepared to impose the same ban
2. Considering the anticipated sharp increase in the volume of shipping in EEZ, the following transport routes are recommended:
- Main shipping along the Northern Marine Route should be conducted via northern option (above Novaya Zemlya archipelago)
- In the Pechora Sea above Kolguev Island navigation routes should be – along 70 N latitude
- Shipping through Yugorskiy Shar should be forbidden, at least during the 2nd and 3rd quarters
Oil and gas
- Seismic investigations should be conducted during the 1st and 2nd quarters and at the end of the 4th quarter in areas with biodiversity maxima
- Prospecting and exploratory drilling should only be conducted with a 0 discharge policy
- hydrocarbon extraction should only be conducted with a 0 discharge policy
- Oil offloading on marine trans-shipment terminals should be carried out with mandatory recovery of hydrocarbon emissions from the tanks of tankers (both large and small "breathing")
- It is necessary to improve short-term forecasting of fish stock abundance;
- Provide fishing vessels with modern search equipment to select optimal fishing strategies for specific areas to minimize the impact on non-target species, juveniles, and benthic habitats;
- Develop new technologies for bottom trawling;
- Further develop the Russian long-line fishery;
- Reduce IUU fishing, and recycle residual IUU catch;
- Introduce specific regulations for snow crab fisheries in the Russian zone;
- Create a “Responsible Fisheries Fund” as a tool to facilitate interactions between the State, fishermen’s associations, and nongovernmental organizations.
- Preserve existing biodiversity in marine ecosystems by establishing new protected areas: marine reserves of West and East Murman; Gusinaya Banka; Czechskaya Guba; Ostrov Kolguev; Bolshezemelskiy Zapovednik; and Biosphere Reserve of Nenets zapovednik;
- Change the status of "Vaigach" from regional reserve to a federal reserve through the accession of Yugorskiy Shar straight.
To implement regulations for marine spatial planning and execute its strategic environmental assessment into Russian legislative practice, detailed proposals for the following federal laws are currently under review:
- "On the governance of maritime activity in the Russian Federation"
- "On the marine planning in the Russian Federation"
- "On Amendments to the Federal Law”
- "On Environmental Protection" and other legislative acts of the Russian Federation" to implement provisions of the Strategic Environmental Assessment.
To implement the project “Integrated ecosystem-based management” in Russia, the following steps are necessary:
- Introduce Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) procedures or Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for plans to develop different branches of the economy in specific marine areas;
- Implement provisions of the Federal Law "On the strategic planning in Russia" to develop cross-sectoral strategies for specific marine areas;
- Develop national regulatory and methodological documents regulating the implementation of marine spatial planning (MSP);
- The use of state Unified Information System on World Ocean (ESIMO) as a basis for marine spatial planning (MSP) mapping projects.