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NINA – Norsk institutt for naturforskning

Year: 2019
Project manager: Arnaud Tarroux
Project code: 712018

Sustainable use of marine resources requires that areas of high vulnerability of marine ecosystems to human activities are adequately identified so that relevant resource-management policies can be developed. With the retreating Arctic sea ice human activities will expand northward, parallel to many marine species, including seabirds. Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) and Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) are often proposed as tools that can help achieve sustainable use of marine resources. However, sound MSP and EBM require adequate scientific data about the distribution of marine species at spatiotemporal scales matching the high environmental variability inherent in northern marine ecosystems.
Our project will provide stakeholders involved in MSP with a high-resolution spatially-explicit assessment of the vulnerability of seabirds to industrial and commercial activities. We will utilize novel datasets on seabirds and industrial activities to deliver baseline data on the current and future spatial conflict between seabird populations and industrial activities on a North-East Atlantic scale. Data on seabird’s monthly distribution and abundance will be obtained from a parallel project, SEATRACK (http://www.seapop.no/en/seatrack). First, we will determine the current spatial conflict between North-East Atlantic seabirds and fisheries, oil and gas activities and shipping. Second, we will project the probable shifts in seabirds’ distribution and abundance following predicted changes in climate over the next decades and compare these shifts to the planned fishing activities and their potential northward expansion following the retreating Arctic sea ice. This project will result in the mapping of the current and future high-vulnerability areas of pelagic Arctic-breeding seabirds throughout their annual cycle.

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