Russia, Norway to count polar bears

Russia, Norway to count polar bears

3 March 2015

Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and Norway’s Ministry of Climate and Environment have signed a memorandum of cooperation on monitoring polar bears in the Barents Sea region.


The purpose of the memorandum is to carry out a joint effort to count polar bears beginning in 2015. Aerial surveillance will be used to gather new data on the Barents Sea polar bear population and its developmental trends.


The parties plan to exchange data on the number of Barents Sea polar bears and their migrations on Russian and Norwegian territory. The memorandum is also aimed at strengthening bilateral cooperation with respect to managing, monitoring, and studying the Barents Sea polar bear population. These joint efforts will contribute to the Circumpolar Action Plan, which is being implemented as part of the 1973 Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears.


In August 2015, the Lance icebreaker will leave on an international research expedition to the Franz Josef Land Natural Reserve, which is part of the Russian Arctic National Park.


On the Russian side, the programme is co-sponsored by the Russian Geographical Society, while Norway is represented by the Norwegian Polar Institute, a leading state-run institution specialising in polar research and Russia’s long-time partner (since 1989) of environmental and nature protection initiatives in the Barents Sea.


This is not the first time that Russian and Norwegian researches have worked together, having conducted aerial surveillance of Barents Sea polar bears near the Franz Josef Land archipelago in 2004. Back then, the combined sub-population of Barents Sea polar bears was estimated at about 2,644 (from 1,899 to 3,592). It has taken researchers the last five years to prepare for this latest counting effort for the polar bear monitoring programme.