Commercial shipping has no significant impact on Arctic marine ecosystems: Study  

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A comprehensive study based on data from 50 monitoring stations in the waters of the Northern Sea Route (NSR) has concluded that commercial shipping currently has no significant impact on marine ecosystems in the Arctic. 

The study was undertaken by the Marine Research Center of Lomonosov Moscow State University in collaboration with international experts, according to Vladimir Panov who is the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom’s Special Representative for the Development of the Arctic. 

The Northern Sea Route via the Arctic is the shortest route between East Asian and Western European ports. As the NSR infrastructure operator, Rosatom is working on mission mode to make year-round navigation a reality along the entire stretch of the NSR by December 2024. Arctic shipping has been steadily developing over the past 5 years, which has already made possible year-round navigation in the NSR’s western sector.  Rosatom operates nuclear powered icebreakers that help keep open the NSR for navigation. 

“Thanks to the efforts of the Marine Research Center of Lomonosov Moscow State University and the international expert community, in 2021-2022 it was possible to carry out unique comprehensive studies at 50 monitoring stations in the waters of the Northern Sea Route. The key conclusion that can be drawn based on the results of the work is that commercial shipping currently has no significant impact on marine ecosystems in the Arctic”, Panov said in a statement. 

At the 1st All-Russian Maritime Congress held in Moscow earlier this week, a cooperation agreement was signed between Rosatom and the Marine Research Center of Lomonosov Moscow State University to continue comprehensive research and monitoring of above-water and underwater environmental safety in the waters of Russia’s Arctic zone in 2022-2023, a Rosatom statement said.  

“The ongoing research of this year is designed to form a comprehensive program of environmental monitoring of the NSR, which, as we expect, will form the basis of a separate subsystem of national environmental monitoring”, Panov added. 

The agreement envisages continued work on identifying and closing gaps in the study of marine ecosystems, assessing the impact of shipping on them, as well as developing digital services that will allow learning about the environmental situation in the Arctic in real time. Besides, field work continues in the waters of the NSR, the statement said.