Impacts of offshore oil spill accidents on island bird communities: A test run study around Orkney and Svalbard archipelagos

Victor Pavlov, Neil a. James, Elizabeth a. Masden, Victor cesar martins De aguiar, Lars robert Hole, Henrikki Liimatainen, Eva Pongrácz

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The sea area around the Orkney archipelago, Scotland is subjected to substantial maritime shipping activities. By contract, the Svalbard archipelago, Norway currently has a rather low marine traffic profile. Future projections, however, indicate that the Trans-Arctic route might change the whole transportation picture and Svalbard may be at the centre of maritime activities. Both archipelagos have sensitive environmental resources at sea and inland, including bird communities. There are, for instance, 13 Red Listed species present in Orkney and 2 in Svalbard. In this regard, it is important to address oil spill risks along existing and projected shipping routes. Hypothetical spills were simulated in twelve scenarios for both the Orkney and Svalbard archipelagos with the OpenDrift open-source software. The results indicate risks to seabird communities. For Orkney, the spills resulted in the most extensive contamination of the sea and land environments in autumn. For Svalbard, autumn spills on the contrary presented the lowest risk to seabirds. Based on the simulations, we recommend increased caution for shipping activities in the problematic seasons, improved local readiness for ship accidents and sufficient pre-incident planning.
Original languageEnglish
Article number122193
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2023

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