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  • 1.
    Bergström, Lena
    et al.
    Perfomers of environmental monitoring, Universities, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SLU, Aquatic Resources.
    Lagenfelt, Ingvar
    Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management.
    Sundqvist, Frida
    Perfomers of environmental monitoring, Universities, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SLU, Aquatic Resources.
    Andersson, Ingemar
    Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management.
    Andersson, Mathias H.
    Perfomers of environmental monitoring, Universities, Stockholm University, SU, Department of Zoology. Perfomers of environmental monitoring, Institutes, Swedish Defence Research Agency, FOI.
    Sigray, Peter
    Perfomers of environmental monitoring, Institutes, Swedish Defence Research Agency, FOI.
    Study of the Fish Communities at Lillgrund Wind Farm: Final Report from the Monitoring Programme for Fish and Fisheries 2002–20102013Report (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    In 2001, the Swedish Government authorised the construction of an offshore wind farm at Lillgrund in the Öresund Strait between Denmark and Sweden. In 2002, the Environmental Court defined the final terms and conditions for the wind farm development and the extent of the monitoring programme required.  Lillgrund wind farm came into full operation in 2008, and is currently the largest offshore wind farm in operation in Sweden.  The Swedish National Board of Fisheries conducted a monitoring programme, in the area, in the years before (2002–2005) and after (2008– 2010) the construction of the wind farm; a base line study and a study when the wind farm was operational, respectively. No investigation was conducted during the construction phase. The aim was to investigate the impact of the wind farm during the operational phase on the benthic and pelagic fish as well as on fish migration. These studies have partly been integrated into work conducted as a part of the Vindval Research Programme, funded by the Swedish Energy Agency.

    Acoustics (sound) 

    • The overall sound energy from the wind farm under water is mainly generated by vibration from the gearbox.

    • An analysis of the sound pressure level for the wind farm area, showed a correlation between noise level and the number of turbines in the wind farm (the so called park effect), where each individual turbine helps to increase the overall noise level in the area. 

    • Sound measurements from Lillgrund wind farm showed that noise levels within a distance of 100 metres from a turbine at high wind speeds are high enough to be a risk for some species of fish to be negatively affected, e.g. in the form of direct escape behaviour, or masking of vocal communication between individuals. 

    • Stress reactions can also occur at distances of more than 100 metres from a turbine. This is due to the fact that the noise from the turbines is continuous and louder than the ambient noise levels within some frequencies.   

    Measurements of the underwater noise levels were carried out at varying distances from individual turbines, from longer distances away from the entire wind farm as well as within a reference site (Sjollen) 10 km north of the wind farm. The results show that the wind farm produces a broadband noise below 1 kHz as well as one or two tones where the 127 Hz tone is the most powerful (vibrations from the first stage in the gear box). The majority of the overall underwater sound energy from the wind farm lies around the tone of 127 Hz.  The maximum noise levels, generated by the wind turbine, working at full production (12 m/s), at 1 m were 136 dB re 1µPa(RMS) for the dominant tone of the turbine which was 127 Hz (integrated across 123–132 Hz) and 138 dB re 1µPa(RMS) at the full spectrum (integrated across 52–343 Hz). At a distance of 100 m from the turbine, the noise levels are reduced to 104–106 dB re 1µPa(RMS) across the full spectrum, which is close to the locally measured ambient noise in the Öresund Strait, but the noise level was still around 23 dB above the background level for the 127 Hz tone.

    An analysis of the sound pressure level for the wind farm area showed a correlation between noise level and the number of turbines in the wind farm (called the park effect). Close to the wind farm (<80 m), the noise environment was dominated by the individual wind turbine with a calculated sound propagation loss of 17•log (distance). At greater distances (80 m to 7000 m) the sound propagation loss was non-linear and less than 17•log (distance). This is explained by the fact that the other turbines in the wind farm contributed to the total noise level. At even greater distances (>7 km) the entire wind farm functioned as a point source and the sound propagation loss was once again measured as 17•log (distance). The noise levels equivalent to those recorded and calculated from Lillgrund wind farm have not been shown to cause any physical injury to fish according to the current published scientific literature. It was only within some 100 metres from a turbine at high wind speeds that the noise levels were high enough to result in the risk of negative effects on some species of fish in the form of direct escape behaviour or possible masking of communication. The response depends upon the individual species’ sensitivity to sound. Fish have been shown to become stressed when they find themselves in a consistently noisy environment, which in turn can result in for example, lower growth rates or can have an impact on reproduction. Stress in general can also, in combination with other negative factors, make them more susceptible to disease etc., due to an impaired immune system. Animals can choose however, to remain in an area despite the disturbance, if the area is sufficiently important for their survival or reproduction.  Based on the calculated sound propagation around the wind farm, salmon and eel could theoretically detect the 127 Hz tone at 250 m and 1 km distances respectively at a productivity rate of 60 and 100 %, which is equivalent to a wind speed of approximately 6 and 12 m/s. The calculated distances would be limited by the hearing ability of both fish species and not the background noise levels in the Öresund Strait. For herring and cod, the theoretical detection distance was calculated to be between 13 and 16 km respectively for a production rate of 60 and 100 %. This distance should have been greater, but is limited for these species due to the ambient noise levels in the area. These calculations indicate that fish can potentially detect sound from the wind farm at relatively long distances. Local variations with regard to depth and physical barriers such as peninsulas, e.g. Falsterbonäset in the southern end of the Öresund Strait, can however, have a large impact on the actual sound propagation. 

    Benthic Fish

    • The temporal development of the fish community in Lillgrund was similar to that observed in the reference areas during the study period. For the wind farm as a whole, no effect was observed on species richness, species composition or on the abundance of fish. 

    • Several species of fish however, showed an increase in abundance close to the wind turbines compared with further away, especially eel (yellow eel) (Anguilla anguilla), cod (Gadus morhua), goldsinny wrasse (Ctenolabrus rupestris) and shorthorn sculpin (Myoxocephalus scorpius). The results reflect a redistribution of fish within the wind farm, rather than a change in productivity or migration from surrounding areas. The increase in abundance is probably due to the wind turbine foundations providing an opportunity for protection and improved foraging. The distance within which an increased abundance could be observed was estimated, for different species, to be between 50– 160 metres from a wind turbine. 

    • Fish distribution may to some extent have been influenced by the local acoustic environment, as a lower degree of aggregation close to the wind turbines at higher noise levels. The effect was most obvious for eelpout and eel (yellow eel). No response was seen for cod in relation to sound levels.   

    Changes in the species composition of the fish communities over time were studied in comparison with two reference areas. Of these, the northerly reference area (Sjollen) had a larger marine component than the southern reference area (Bredgrund). The species composition at Lillgrund had similarities with both of the reference areas.  The results from fish sampling with fyke nets and gill net series indicate that there have been no significant changes in the number of species, the species composition or the fish abundance after the wind farm was built, looking at the wind farm as a whole. Some changes have however been noted in relation to individual species. An increased catch of shore crab and eel (yellow eel) was observed during the first two years of production, but not in the third year. The catch of eelpout increased in all areas during the period studied, but to a slightly lesser extent at Lillgrund when compared to the reference areas. For the other species, the changes observed at Lillgrund were similar to at least one of the reference areas. These results suggest that the fish communities within the wind farm were primarily affected by the same general environmental conditions as the fish communities within the reference areas, rather than by the effects of the wind farm.  An analysis of the distribution patterns of fish close to the turbines showed an increased abundance in the immediate vicinity of the wind turbines in four of the eight species of fish studied: specifically shorthorn sculpin, goldsinny wrasse, cod and eel (yellow eel). The effects were seen already after the first year and were similar over all three years studied. An effect was also identified for eelpout, but only in 2010. The aggregation effect was seen within a distance of 50–160 metres from the wind turbines, different for the different species.  A comparison of the relative effect of different factors, based on the data from an extended survey in 2010, showed that the observed distribution pattern could be explained to a larger extent by the presence of the turbines rather than the underwater topography of the area. The analysis also indicated weak effects of the local acoustic environment on fish distribution patterns, with a reduced presence of fish at higher noise levels. The response was strongest for eelpout and eel. No response in relation to noise level was seen for cod. For shorthorn scuplin and common shore crab a response was seen only 11 Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management Report 2013:19  during the autumn. The magnitude of the effect of noise was, however, lower than the aggregation effect. Hence, fish aggregated close to the wind turbines in all conditions, but the effect was weaker when the noise levels were higher. It is recommended that the the wind farm area is reinvestigated after a number of years to follow the long-term development of the fish populations, and to see if the aggregation effect observed continues and potentially also increases over time. A prerequisite for a long term positive development of fish abundance is that the removal of fish, such as from fishing or predation by marine mammals and fish-eating birds, does not increase in the area. 

    Pelagic Fish

    • There was a dramatic increase in commercial fishing for herring north of the Öresund Link (close to the north of the wind farm) in the first years of operation of the wind farm, in contrast to south of the bridge that forms a part of the Öresund Link, where it virtually completely stopped. This change may imply that the Rügen herring migration was affected by the Lillgrund Wind Farm. Due to the fact that there were other factors in addition to the wind farm contributing to the herring movements, it proved difficult to identify any correlation.   

    The evaluation was based on catch statistics from the commercial fisheries in the Öresund Strait (ICEs subdivision SD 23) and fisheries independent statistics from ICES for adult herring (Rügen herring) (ICES subdivision SD 21–23, western Baltic Sea and southern Kattegatt) and density of juvenile fish (ICES subdivision SD 24). There was a dramatic increase in commercial fishing for herring north of the Öresund Link in the first years of operation of the wind farm, in contrast to south of the bridge where it virtually completely stopped. The reason may be largely explained by the regulations banning drift-net fishing and a favourable market for herring, but potentially also because of the Öresund Link which was completed in 2000.The potential impacts of the wind farm are therefore difficult to distinguish from the impacts of these other factors because detailed resolution in the catch statistics are missing from the years before 1995 prior to the start of the building work on the Öresund Link. The statistics independent of commercial fishing from ICES showed no significant correlation between the density of herring juveniles in the western Baltic Sea and the number of adult herring (3 years old or more) in the following years in the Öresund Strait (ICES SD 21–24). There was however a weak tendency towards a negative development of the fish population over the period 1993 – 2010. The presence of Rügen herring and their migration through the Öresund Strait is likely strongly influenced by the fact that the population shows large fluctuations between the years. In addition, there is a possible overlapping effect on the soundscape from the wind farm and the Öresund Link, which has been in use since 2000.  Overall, the variety of factors together mean that it is difficult to identify any clear results with regard to if the migration of Rűgen herring is influenced by Lillgrund wind farm.

    Fish Migration 

    • According to the results from this work, the wind farm at Lillgrund is not a barrier for the migration of the eels that come into contact with it. An equally large proportion of the tagged and released silver eels (approximately one third) passed the transect line with receivers, at Lillgrund both before the wind farm was constructed (baseline study) and after it was in operation. 

    • There was no statistically significant difference indicating any alteration in the migration speed of eels, but there were occasional longer migration times when the wind farm was working at higher levels of production (>20 % of maximum) which may indicate that some eels are affected by the wind farm. The fact that the eels also showed a tendency towards being noted on fewer occasions than expected within the wind farm at low productivity (<20 %) and on slightly more occasions than expected at higher productivity (>20 %), could indicate that they have greater difficulty in navigating past the wind farm at higher levels of productivity than lower. 

    The impact of the wind farm on migration was studied via tagging of migrating silver eels. In total, 300 acoustically individually tagged eels were included in the study and of these, 100 contributed with useable information. The baseline study period started on a small scale in 2001 and ended in 2005. The majority of the eels were tagged and monitored during the production period (2008– 2010). All tagged silver eels were released south of the wind farm. 

    The results showed that an equally large proportion of the tagged and released silver eels; approximately one third, passed a transect with receivers at Lillgrund wind farm, both during the baseline period 2001–2005, and when it was in production 2008–2009. The greatest proportion of eels passed through the deeper part of the transect by the navigation channel Flintrännan close to the Danish border at Drogden during the production phase (31 %) and baseline period (43 %). A somewhat larger proportion of the eels were registered passing the most easterly part of the transect, close to Klagshamn, during the production phase (14 %) compared with the baseline period (5 %). A behaviour which occurred during the production phase, was that some individuals moved back to the release site, after being in the vicinity of wind farm. The most commonly observed behaviour during the study in 2010 was that an eel was registered moving south of the wind farm in a more or less northerly direction, but without being registered to the north of the wind farm.  The range in the time taken for the movement of the eels from the release site to the transect running through the wind farm was very great, from four to more than 1000 hours. There was no statistically significant difference in the time taken to travel, between periods with low production (<20 % of maximum) and periods with high production (>20 %) or for individuals which passed through or outside of the wind farm.  Even if the eels did not show any statistically significant behaviour, changes in movement patterns may occur for some individuals. The fact that there was a tendency towards longer periods of time taken for movement at higher production levels (not statistically significant) (>20 %) could indicate that some individual eels are influenced by the wind farm. The proportion of eels that took more than a week (168 hours) to make the journey was 48 % during the period with higher production (>20 %) compared with 28 % at lower production. No significant difference in the proportion of passes within or outside of the wind farm respectively could be shown. The eels showed however, – a tendency of being recorded on fewer occasions than expected inside the wind farm at low production levels (<20 %) and on more occasions than expected at higher production levels (>20 %). The irregularities in the proportions, compared with the expected result, could indicate that individual eels stayed longer in the wind farm when it was functioning at higher productivity. If the eels discover the wind turbine only when they are very close and do not change course, then other factors such as the speed of the current across the shallow marine areas become significant and can mean that the time spent in the area is shorter and records fewer. At high productivity, the eels may hesitate and/or divert their course and be recorded from close to or within the area, to then be recorded on the transect outside of the wind farm.  The mechanisms that lie behind the possible impact from the electromagnetic field or the noise pattern are difficult to distinguish, as both can have an impact on the same areas. Travelling speed showed no linear relationship with the level of production in the wind farm. 

    Conclusions

    The study at Lillgrund has resulted in an increase in the understanding of how offshore wind farms can affect fish, which is very valuable. Even within an international context, there are currently very few experience-based studies of offshore wind farms in operation.  The results from three years of monitoring during the operational phase show that the effects of the wind farm on fish populations and fishing were limited. One of the clearest results showed that some benthic fish species were attracted to the foundations of the wind turbines with their associated scour protection (reef effect). In addition, the effect on the local noise environment in the form of increased noise in the Öresund Strait was documented. The results of the eel tracking study may indicate that some eels are influenced by the wind farm on their migration. Some care should be taken however, when applying the results of these studies in other offshore environments and on a larger scale. The monitoring has only been carried out for three years and thus reflects only a short-term perspective. Lillgrund wind farm is also one of the first large-scale wind farms and is situated in an area with regular and noisy shipping traffic and both frequent and large variations in environmental factors such as salinity and currents.  A key knowledge gap that remains after the completion of this work is the lack of studies over a longer period of time, to help identify the long term ecological effects of, for example, the reef effect. Ideally, the wind farm should be re-visited after a number of years to see how the fish populations have developed over the longer term, and see if the observed aggregation of certain fish species close to the wind turbines continues, and to possibly see if any quantitative effects have taken place. Studies are also required in relation to how stress may affect fish species/individuals which choose the reef-like foundations and their noisier environment. Additional studies, primarily for the Baltic Sea, are also required to establish if there are any cumulative effects on migratory fish such as silver eels.

  • 2.
    Hogdin, Susanna
    et al.
    Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management.
    Dahlberg, Ann
    Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management.
    Jansson, Emil
    Perfomers of environmental monitoring, Government Agencies, Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.
    Karlsson, Magnus
    Perfomers of environmental monitoring, Government Agencies, Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.
    Thews, Björn
    Perfomers of environmental monitoring, Government Agencies, Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.
    Tillstånd till användning av bekämpningsmedel inom  vattenskyddsområden: Vägledning för prövningen2016Report (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    These guidelines can be used by both supervisory authorities and operators with regard to applications for the use of pesticides in water protection areas The guidelines deal with both the permit authorisation procedure in accordance with the water protection regulations established pursuant to Chapter 7, Section 22 of the Environmental Code and in accordance with Chapter 6 of Swedish Environmental Protection Agency regulations (NFS 2015:2) on application and certain other handling of plant protection products.  The guidelines have been defined so that they relate to the permit authorisation procedure for chemical plant protection products with emphasis on the queries arising with regard to agricultural handling of plant protection products. However, use of chemical plant protection products in other fields is also discussed in the guidelines to a certain extent.  The overall purpose of these guidelines is to maintain good raw water quality in our water catchments, free of pesticide residues. The guidelines also aim to pave the way for simpler, more consistent handling of permit applications for the use of pesticides in water protection areas.  The guidelines begin with general information on the regulations with regard to water protection areas and regulations for the use of pesticides. Guidelines on the handling of permit cases, from the receipt of an application to a decision being made, are then provided. The information that should be included in the processing of permit cases, the risk assessment that has to be carried out by the authority, what decisions on permit cases should include and how they should be formulated are all important elements in the handling of permit cases described in these guidelines.

  • 3.
    Andreasson, Arne (Editor)
    Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management.
    Funegård, Peter (Editor)
    Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management.
    Bjerner, Karin (Editor)
    Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management.
    Hermansson, Annie (Editor)
    Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management.
    Management of Large Rivers to Secure Functions of  Coastal Ecosystems: Seminar organized by the Swedish Agency  for Marine and Water Management at  World Water Week 2015 in Stockholm2015Report (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Human activities upstream in rivers have negative environmental impact on coastal aquatic ecosystems of which millions of people in the developing world are dependent on for their livelihoods. Some of the main problems have been identified as hydropower development, sediment extraction and pollution with impacts on ecosystem functions and services. In order to address the environmental challenges it is important to identify critical flows in the source to sea continuum. The degradation of ecosystems in the continuum illustrates the lack of understanding of these flows that are connecting the systems. In addition the linkages in existing management systems on land, in the coastal zone and in the oceans, which are often handled separately, needs to be further understood. Hence it is crucial that existing management tools are developed into integrated management approaches, such as management based on a source to sea approach to address these linkages and to resolve the environmental challenges in aquatic ecosystems. The land-river-coasts linkages are also important in order to enable the realization of the implementation of several of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Availability of clean freshwater and protection of aquatic ecosystems will be two of the most important issues to improve living conditions for the poor riverine and coastal communities. Linking goal 6 and 14 and their targets and indicators is therefore essential to ensure livelihoods of poor communities that depend on the natural resources from the aquatic ecosystems. Furthermore, the implementation of the Global Goals for Sustainable  Development and targets will require concerted and coordinated actions at all levels and between all sectors. Active engagement of all stakeholders, effective dialogue, including poor communities, civil society and the private sector are also important conditions. The integration between the management systems of large rivers with their estuarine and coastal areas is a challenge and the future development will require new methodologies and innovative institutional arrangements. Hence, the application of a source to sea management approach is essential in order to secure a sustainable development.

  • 4.
    Marine Spatial Planning - Current Status 2014: National planning in Sweden's territorial waters and exclusive economic zone (EEZ)2015Report (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This report is a current status description, prior to the forthcoming national marine spatial planning. This report aims to provide an easily understandable picture of conditions as regards the utilisation of marine resources and the actors and claims on the sea, and is a starting point for the coming marine spatial planning process.

  • 5.
    Report: Global Trends in Fisheries Governance: Improving sustainability. Conference organized by the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management. Rosenbad Conference Centre, Stockholm 29-30 January 20142014Report (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) of the European Union was adopted on 11 December 2013. Not only does it reform the fisheries policy governing the European waters, but for the first time in its thirty-year history, international aspects of fisheries management are included in the Basic Regulation. Until now these aspects have been covered by non-legally binding Council Conclusions.

    The conference Global Trends in Fisheries Governance – Improving Sustainability was organized by the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management, in Rosenbad Conference Centre, Stockholm 29-30 January 2014, with the aim of analysing the external dimension of the new CFP, and increasing the understanding and interpretation of the policy and its implementation at all different management levels for improved sustainability.

    The Conference explored possible tools, options, responsibilities and challenges for the implementation of the external dimension of the new CFP. It was funded by the Swedish Ministry of Rural Affairs. It focused on the European Union’s bilateral relations with third countries, and the EU as a member of regional fisheries bodies and other relevant international organizations in light of the reformed CFP.

    The CFP exists in a context of other policies, both within the EU and at a global level. The conference examined various connections with the fisheries policy and recent developments in the UN Convention of the Law of the sea, UNCLOS, the UN Convention of Biodiversity, CBD, and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

    The conference highlighted the challenges of protecting biodiversity, both within Exclusive Economic Zones and in international waters. Necessary measures that must be taken to safeguard the potential of fish stocks to contribute to long-term food security were also discussed.

    The sessions followed a keynote adress by Mr Eskil Erlandsson, the Swedish Minister of Rural Affairs. Each session ended with a panel discussion. The sessions adressed the following issues:

    • What political and management changes can the new External Dimension lead to and what can EU decision makers and managers do to steer developments to meet the objectives?
    • Which global opportunities and challenges do fisheries and aquaculture face? These include the future role of the fisheries sector for food security and economic development in a growing blue economy.
    • Global developments within regional fisheries management organizations, UNCLOS developments, how biodiversity in the protection of national and international waters relates to fisheries management an how fisheries can contribute to global food security.

    There were 20 presentations and 110 participants from all continents. The conference was fascilitated by Anna Jöborn, Director, the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management, and Axel Wenblad, former Director-General of the Swedish Board of Fisheries. Mr Björn Risinger, Director General, the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management, gave the concluding remarks and closed the conference.

    A set of major issues and themes emerged from the presentations and discussions. The European Union is a major producer of fish and fish products, and it is also the largest importer of fish in the world. This gives reinforced impetus to the notion that all EU Member States, and not only the producing Member States, must pay more attention to the long-term sustainability of fish stocks in and beyond EU waters. The demand for fish will continue to rise in the Union, although the supply may not increase simultaneously. This will raise questions about the European Union’s fair share of the world market of fish and fish products. The question about the substitution of feed fish for consumption was also raised.

    The need for globally responsible governance and cooperation becomes imperative in light of the increasing competition between major producers and major markets in the world.

    The conference stressed the need for transparency in the allocation of resources and in the governance of the sector. The need for transparency was also raised in connection with sharing information about subsidies. In order to improve commitment and adherence to global, regional or local government measures, meaningful consultations with all relevant stakeholders is important. The potential of Advisory Councils (AC) to foster stakeholder participation was discussed.

    The legal and biological defintions of the concept of surplus, which is the basic issue for agreements pertaining to fishin rights according to UNCLOS and now embedded in the CFP, are essential for good governance. The defintion of surplus and, in relation to that, how to calculate and assess Maximum Sustainable Yield, will become increasingly important. The conference discussed the different roles of politicians, managers and scientists in this process.

    Consumers are becoming more vocal about their demands, which can alter the behaviour of producers of goods and services. Consumers, who demand supplies of fish and fish products from sustainable fish stocks, may have a positive influence on fisheries management and may improve sustainabilty in the long run.

    The conference highlighted the importance of continuing the battle against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fisheries. That battle has not been won as yet, and all potential means to attain this goal are required to reduce and prevent IUU fisheries. The European Commition plays a vital role in attaining this goal on a global level.

    The conference discussed the issue of sectoral integration, for example for the implementation of UNCLOS and the Biodiversity Convention, but no consensus was reached. While some participants emphasized the need for increased sectoral integration, others questioned if there are any successful examples of such integration.

    Regional fisheries management organizations play a key role for the management of resources in the high seas. The performance of these organizations has, however, varied, and some have been largely ineffective in promoting sustainable fisheries. The conference explored the performance of RFMOs and ways to improve their efficiency.

  • 6.
    Nilsson, Jessica (Editor)
    Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management.
    Snoeijs-Leijonmalm, Pauline (Editor)
    Perfomers of environmental monitoring, Universities, Stockholm University, SU.
    Havenhand, Jon (Editor)
    Perfomers of environmental monitoring, Universities, University of Gothenburg, GU.
    Nilsson, Per (Editor)
    Perfomers of environmental monitoring, Universities, University of Gothenburg, GU.
    Scientific considerations of  how Arctic Marine Protected Area (MPA) networks may reduce  negative effects of climate change and ocean acidification: Report from the Third Expert Workshop on Marine Protected Area networks in  the Arctic, organised by Sweden and Finland under the auspices of the PAME  working group of the Arctic Council in Helsinki, Finland, 21-22 September 20172017Report (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Rapid environmental changes in the Arctic

    During the last two decades, the Arctic region has become an area of international strategic importance for states, businesses, NGOs and other stakeholders. The rapid environmental changes in the Arctic create new opportunities for different actors that may impact negatively on ecological and social values. Global climate change and ocean acidification change the habitats of the cold-adapted organisms living in the Arctic, with the risk of exterminating unique biodiversity. Human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases (primarily carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) affect the balance between energy entering and leaving the Earth’s system resulting in global warming, melting of sea-ice (which increases heat absorption by the Arctic Ocean), and associated climate change. Approximately 27 % of the carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere every year is absorbed by the oceans. This keeps the atmosphere from warming as much as it otherwise would, but creates ocean acidification. In the Arctic region climate change and ocean acidification take place 10-100 times faster than at any time in the last 65 million years.

    Intention of the workshop

    This third expert workshop on Marine Protected Area (MPA) networks in the Arctic, organised by Sweden and Finland, was held in Helsinki (Finland) and its outcome is a contribution to the ‘‘PAME MPA-network toolbox’’ project. An MPA, as defined by PAME, is ‘‘a clearly defined geographical space recognized, dedicated, and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values’. An MPA network is a collection of individual MPAs or reserves operating cooperatively and synergistically, at various spatial scales, and with a range of protection levels that are designed to meet objectives that a single reserve cannot achieve. During this third expert workshop the scientific basis of how MPA networks may reduce negative effects of climate change and ocean acidification in the Arctic region was discussed. Workshop participants were mainly scientists with expertise on Arctic marine ecosystems, climate change, ocean acidification and/or MPAs. The intention of the workshop was not to reach consensus and provide a fixed list of recommendations, but rather to summarize: (1) the best available knowledge that can already be applied to the planning of a pan-Arctic MPA network, and (2) the primary uncertainties and, hence, what necessary scientific knowledge is still lacking. As such, the six main outcomes from the workshop below contribute to the scientific basis for the potential of MPAs as a tool to meet the threats posed by climate change and ocean acidification to Arctic ecosystems and livelihoods.

    A paradigm shift for establishing MPAs is necessary

    Given the rapid environmental changes and unprecedented rate of loss of Arctic sea ice there is an urgency to protect habitats that are essential for ecosystem functioning and to link MPAs in an international network. Humanity has now the opportunity of a pro-active and precautionary approach vis-à-vis the largely intact, highly sensitive and unique cold-adapted Arctic marine ecosystems. The current paradigm for the creation of MPAs seems to be that a direct regional or local threat needs to be proven before an MPA can be designated. However, climate change and ocean acidification are global processes that operate across the whole Arctic, and therefore this paradigm should be shifted towards one that establishes MPA networks to protect what is valued and cherished before it is harmed. This calls for applying the precautionary principle and creating Arctic MPA networks that will support resilience of biodiversity and ecosystem services to climate change and ocean acidification. Scientists are aware that not all desired knowledge for planning such networks is available at this time. This includes uncertainty associated with projecting the consequences of climate change across the physical (e.g. climate models), ecological (e.g. species diversity, ecosystem processes) to the human domain (e.g. ecosystem services, human well-being). Uncertainty about the effects of climate change and ocean acidification grows when moving from physical processes to ecology and finally to human well-being. Nonetheless, general ecological principles and additional experience from other regions (e.g. Antarctica, Baltic Sea) provide sufficient basic understanding to start designing a robust pan-Arctic MPA network already now and to develop and implement the necessary connected management measures.

    Existing MPA criteria need to be adapted to Arctic conditions

    Creating an MPA network for the Arctic will require adaptation of established criteria to the unique, and rapidly changing, character of the region. For example, optimal MPA locations for some MPAs in the Arctic Ocean may not be stationary in space and time; e.g. high-biodiversity marginal ice zone (MIZ) ecosystems will become more dynamic in time and space, contracting in winter and expanding in summer, with climate change. In order to account for the migration of species with moving physico-chemical conditions (so-called ‘climate tracking’) creating dynamic MPAs along oceanographic and climatic gradients may be a feasible and effective approach. Such focus on ocean features, the integration of other effective area-based measures next to MPAs, as well as the systematic integration of traditional and local knowledge (TLK), will be essential in the process of designating MPA networks. In so doing, the vulnerability and status of Arctic ecosystems to cumulative drivers and pressures from not only regional and local scales (fishing, tourism, pollution, etc.) but also global scales (climate change and ocean acidification) should be monitored and reviewed on a regular basis.

    Arctic MPAs should be located in areas that are expected to become refugia

    Climate change and ocean acidificationdo not operate in isolation but combine with regional and local environmental stressors to affect Arctic species, habitats, and ecosystems. It is possible to lessen the total stress burden and increase the resilience of biodiversity to the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification by mitigating stresses from direct anthropogenic pressures, such as habitat destruction, fishing, shipping, discharges of hazardous substances, etc., through establishing MPA networks. This will not ‘solve’ the underlying problems of climate change and ocean acidification, which can only be done by reducing atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions, but it will ‘buy time’ during which the underlying problems are addressed globally.

    Additional stresses should be targeted

    A key aspect is how to identify the location of prospective MPAs within a network. Since the effects of climate change and ocean acidification are unevenly distributed across the Arctic Ocean, it would be recommended to protect habitats that will act as refugia for Arctic biodiversity. For example, protecting the areas north of Greenland, where summer sea ice is projected to be most long-lasting, or parts of the Arctic Ocean where the supply of organic matter through permafrost melt, glacier melt, higher precipitation and higher river runoff (with increasing coastal CO2 concentrations through microbial activity) will be lowest. The 18 Arctic large marine ecosystems (LMEs) reflect the marine ecosystem variability in the region, and should be used to draft plans for MPA networks to more effectively consider representativeness.

    The scientific knowledge basis must be improved

    The workshop highlighted the need for a dedicated group to compile relevant geophysical and biological data for the purpose of MPA network planning. These data should include the changing environment, ‘spatial adaptation planning’, biochemical gradients, and identification of areas of high and low impact of climate change and ocean acidification. There is a wealth of information available (both reviews and analyses of knowledge gaps from CAFF, AMAP and others), that can be used for MPA planning but this information is highly scattered and needs to be collated and made spatially explicit, when possible. While the planning for MPA networks can start already now, there remains a large need for monitoring and relevant scientific research. This would require not only improved scientific cooperation between countries but also truly integrated international monitoring and research to decrease fragmentation and duplication of research.

    Identification of research priorities

    Gaps in knowledge identified by the workshop participants mainly concern the winter season, the vulnerability and resilience of the Arctic marine ecosystems and the need to support sustainable development. With respect to climate change much more is known about species higher up in the food web (seabirds, marine mammals, some fish) than about species lower in food web. For ocean acidification, most of the experimental work has been done on lower trophic levels. Much uncertainty surrounds the fate of Arctic ecosystems in a future world and how to deal with uncertainties is an issue that should be addressed in scientific studies. For example, the disappearance of strongly ice-associated species in many places will likely lead to a state-change in the associated ecosystem, yet the timing and nature of that change is currently unpredictable. While the basic drivers of the Arctic shelf-sea ecosystems are quite well understood, there is a massive lack of information at all trophic levels for the Central Arctic Ocean  LME, i.e. the deep central basin, and key species are difficult to identify. Presently, this high-latitude ecosystem is ice-bound, but climate projections indicate that it will become ice-free during summer within decades; the projected spatial and temporal variability is however very large and is likely not predictable. It is not known if native species will be able to adapt to the very rapid rates of change. It is also not known if more southern species that may migrate into the new ice-free areas will be able to adapt to certain local conditions that are not likely to change, e.g. the low nutrient availability in the Central Arctic Ocean . While many coastal areas may become more productive as melting terrestrial ice and snow transports nutrients to the sea, the Central Arctic Ocean is expected to remain nutrient-poor since no new nutrients are projected to reach this remote area with climate change. Clear is that the ecosystems of the Arctic Ocean, and especially the Central Arctic Ocean, face critical changes, which will be large and unprecedented, and that there is an urgent need for food-web studies and ecosystem modelling to inform the establishment of marine protection regimes in the Arctic.

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