“Canada-Russia-Norway: Dialogue and Cooperation in the Arctic” conference held in Canada

“Canada-Russia-Norway: Dialogue and Cooperation in the Arctic” conference held in Canada

16 June 2011

Dr Vyacheslav Rozhnov, deputy director of the Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Science and head of a permanent Arctic expedition, was invited by his Canadian colleagues to participate in a two-day conference on May 26-27, 2011.


Dr Rozhnov reported on Russia's White Whale Programme, which monitors white (or beluga) whale populations and their seasonal migration patterns with the support of the Russian Geographical Society. Programme researchers study the distribution and population numbers of white whales with the help of aerial and marine surveys. Argos satellite tracking devices are also used to monitor these Arctic mammals and their migration patterns, while genetic testing is used to study the distribution structure of white whales and other Arctic mammals. As part of the programme, researchers evaluate the health of white whales as well as the influence of human factors, which includes studying the whales' hormone levels, diseases and the impact of man-made noise. White whales are considered to be a good indicator of the state of Arctic land and marine ecosystems in general.


The audience was most interested in the measures taken to preserve biological diversity in the Arctic, including the ecosystem approach to the expert evaluation of industrial project implemented in the Arctic, the assessment of possible environmental damage, plans to harvest bioresources in the Arctic and the monitoring of climate and ecosystem changes during industrial activity and harvesting bioresources in the Arctic.


Dr Rozhnov also spoke about how data on biological diversity are widely collected in all but the Russian sector of the Arctic. Therefore, creating a system that monitors biological diversity on Russian territory is a more pressing objective today. The whale monitoring programme includes research of the white whale's distribution, numbers, migration patterns and thickness of ice cover. The need to build a data storage and analysis center was also discussed. Various federal bodies in Russia, such as the FSB border service, the weather stations of the Federal Service of Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring, ships and nature reserves in the Arctic have been invited to assist in the collection of biological diversity data under the supervision of the Russian Geographical Society.