Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

No. 187: Baseline studies for assessing ecotoxicological effects of oil activities in Baffin Bay

Gustavson, K., Tairova, Z, Wegeberg, S. and Mosbech, A. 2016. Baseline studies for assessing ecotoxicological effects of oil activities in Baffin Bay. Aarhus University, DCE – Danish Centre for Environment and Energy, 42 pp. Scientific Report from DCE – Danish Centre for Environment and Energy No. 187. http://dce2.au.dk/pub/SR187.pdf 

Summary

The aim of the present study was to supplement the Arctic Oil and Gas Assessment 2007 report by AMAP (AMAP 2007) including 1) to give a better understanding of short- and long-term effects of oil pollution on the Arctic marine ecosystem, 2) to evaluate Arctic species sensitivity to oil pollution compared to counterpart temperate species and 3) to assure integration of environmental monitoring and toxicological studies.

The report includes:

  • A review of current practices of using biological indicators for environmental monitoring of offshore oil exploration and exploitation
  • A review of the sensitivity of Arctic species versus temperate species
  • A review of suitable organisms for biomonitoring and biomarker responses for oil pollution in Baffin Bay
  • A summary of experimental studies on high Arctic copepods performed as part of the project
  • Recommendations for ecotoxicological monitoring and assessment of oil-related activities in Baffin Bay. 

The risk assessments for polar marine species or ecosystems are in most cases based on toxicity data obtained for temperate species although it remains unclear whether toxicity data for temperate organisms are representative for polar organisms. In this report, various parameters that may have significance for differences in sensitivity are discussed. The report concludes that studies that specifically compare the sensitivity of arctic and temperate analogous species are not entirely conclusive.

The results from the experimental ecotoxicological studies in the project conclude, that for high arctic copepods (Calanus Hyperbous), a key species in the Arctic, larger oil spills have the potential to cause serious damage to the function of the Arctic pelagic food web, either at the surface water or chemically dispersed into deeper waters.

In the report it is recommended that assessment and monitoring follow an integrated approach, where biological and chemical analyses are performed within the same framework, e.g. time and space. It is recommended that the monitoring includes baseline surveys (before exploration and exploitation activities are started) and impact monitoring after the activities are started. It is recommended that the monitoring includes measurements in both “wild” biotas as well as caged. The report includes a review of suitable organisms for biomonitoring and biomarker responses for oil pollution in Baffin Bay

In the report it is recommended that assessment and monitoring follow an integrated approach, where biological and chemical analyses are performed within the same framework, e.g. time and space. It is recommended that the monitoring includes baseline surveys (before exploration and exploitation activities are started) and impact monitoring after the activities are started. It is recommended that the monitoring includes measurements in both “wild” biotas as well as caged. The report includes a review of suitable organisms for biomonitoring and biomarker responses for oil pollution in Baffin Bay.