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Akvaplan-niva - 25 years of collaboration with Russian research institutions

Akvaplan-niva - 25 years of collaboration with Russian research institutions

30. mai 2016 nyhet

Akvaplan-niva to visit St. Petersburg

In June, Akvaplan-niva is bringing all its employees to visit St. Petersburg. This is part of a strategy to build on and strengthen our collaboration with Russian research institutes and to introduce Russia to Akvaplan-niva employees who have not yet worked directly with our Russian partners.


Akvaplan-niva has over 25 years of experience cooperating with Russian leading environmental research institutes – academic, governmental/departmental, regional, private and non-governmental. We have been implementing joint projects under inter-governmental agreements, international programmes, and industry assignments; carrying out desk and field studies, educational courses; making joint reports and scientific papers. Throughout our collaboration history, we have been also following changes in Russian research organisation on different levels, evaluated quality and continuous processes in research studies. Akvaplan-niva has been keeping and developing networks on both institutional and expert levels in international contents. Significant attention in our practical exercises has been paid to harmonisation and inter-calibration of methods and results, as well as elaboration of joint protocols with the lead institutes and laboratories. Akvaplan-niva has reached strategic cooperation agreements with our long-term partners in Russia, such as Murmansk Marine Biological Institute of the Kola Science Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences (MMBI), Knipovich Polar Research Institute of Marine Fisheries and Oceanography (PINRO), Gramberg All-Russian Scientific Research Institute for Geology and Mineral Resources of the Ocean (VNIIOkeangeologia) and others. In 2006, Akvaplan-niva has established the position of the country manager Russia in the headoffice in Tromsø, and the same year, opened a daughter company in Murmansk – Akvaplan-niva Barents Ltd.

The geography of our projects in Russia has been from the Pasvik river in the west and Franz Josef Land in the North, to Rostov-on-Don in the south and Vladivostok in the east, having the Barents Region and Kara Sea in focus for joint activities with our Russian colleagues.

The areas of cooperation are in research of marine and freshwater ecosystems, environmental monitoring and impact assessment, aquaculture research and development, shipping analyses, training and education of young scientists, organisation of discussion platforms.

Joint research of marine and freshwater environment and aquaculture

The first joint expedition to the Barents Sea, including landing on the islands of Kolguyev, Novaya Zemlya and Vaygach, was arranged by Akvaplan-niva and MMBI back in 1992. The researchers from two institutes studied radiation pollution at the nuclear polygons and in bays of Novaya Zemlya and the bays and harbours of the Murmansk region, as well as studies of oil pollution, POPs and heavy metals. Those joint studies were continued during the following 25 years, Akvaplan-niva and partners carried out short- and long-term environmental research projects in the Norwegian and Russian sectors of the Barents Sea, the White and Kara seas, and along the Northern Sea Route. We have studied biodiversity, state of the environment and pollution, carried out inter-calibration and harmonisation of methods with key Russian laboratories, and discussed joint guidelines for environmental monitoring of offshore installations. Our lead Russian partners in marine environment research have been for many years: MMBI and PINRO from Murmansk; Petrozavodsk State University (PetrSU), Institute of Biology and Northern Water Problems Institute (NWPI) from Petrozavodsk; SevPINRO from Arkhangelsk; Nenets Information-Analytical Centre (NIAC) from Naryan-Mar; Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI), Zoological Institute (ZIN), VNIIOkeangeologia, Sevmorgeo, St Petersburg State University (SPSU), Centre for Ecological Safety and North-West branch of Typhoon from St Petersburg; Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Zubov State Institute of Oceanography, Lomonosov Moscow State University from Moscow. The results of our joint expeditions were reported to the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), and the expeditions were carried out in close contact with AMAP and Norwegian Environmental authorities.

In 2002, Akvaplan-niva suggested to the Norwegian Russian Environmental Cooperation to establish Coordinated Environmental Monitoring Programme (CEMP) on harmonising Russian methods on marine environment control and monitoring with OSPAR guidelines; and Akvaplan-niva led the programme from 2002 to 2011, initiating CEMP in Murmansk, Karelia, Archangelsk and Nenets. During 2006-2010, Akvaplan-niva in cooperation with Russian partners elaborated and tested the Joint Norwegian-Russian Guidelines for coastal post oil-spill damage assessment. Now, further step is taken in harmonising methods through the project, called Environmental management of petroleum activities in the Barents Sea: Harmonizing monitoring standards and methodologies (EMAP) financed through the NORRUSS programme.

Since 1990s, we have been studying environmental status and pollution of coastal marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems of Arctic archipelagos – Svalbard, Franz Josef Land, Novaya Zemlya. Svalbard has been a key area for our joint research and education projects with Russian institutes and universities, including AARI, Typhoon, MMBI, SPSU.

Institute of North Industrial Ecological Problems (INEP) KSC RAS based in Apatity has been our lead partner for many years of studies of freshwater ecosystems in Pasvik – a border area between Norway, Russia and Finland. We have carried out joint research projects in rivers and lakes of Northern Russia, including the Pechora river system in the Republic of Komi and the Nenets Autonomous District; the Northern Dvina river and the Kholmovskoye lake in the Arkhangelsk region; the Onega lake in the Republic of Karelia; the Imandra lake and the Kola river in the Murmansk region; and big Siberian rivers – Ob and Yenisey. In 1994-1995, Akvaplan-niva analysed environmental status in the Pechora river after the big oil spill happened in the Republic of Komi. In 2006-2007, we together with Akvaplan-niva Barents, the Institute of Biology of Komi SC RAS, PINRO/SevPINRO and NIAC carried out a joint project to learn long-term effects of the Komi oil spill on the Pechora river ecosystem.

Aquaculture development is another important area of Akvaplan-niva's activities in and cooperation with Russia. In 1993, Akvaplan-niva carried out the first feasibility assessment in Northwest Russia, and in 1996, in cooperation with PetrSU established the pilot trout farm in the White Sea in Karelia. During 20 following years, we ran aquaculture research and development projects of diverse scales in the regions of Northwest Russia, and also worked in the south and Far-East of the country. We assessed fish farming possibilities in lakes and seas, elaborated regional plans for sustainable aquaculture, developed technologies for farming new species, assisted local businesses. Our main partners are lead research institutes of the Fishery Agency of Russia – VNIRO in Moscow, GosNIORH in St Petersburg, PINRO in Murmansk and Arkhangelsk.

The results of our joint research in marine and freshwater environment and aquaculture have been published in scientific journals, books and reports, presented in international conferences.

Research, education and discussion platforms

ARCTOS - the Arctic Marine Ecosystem Research network was established in 2002 after the initiative of researchers from UiT, NPI, UNIS and Akvaplan-niva. ARCTOS is a pan-Arctic research network that unite scientists and students from different countries. It support cooperation between researchers and their institutes from Norway, Russia and other countries through elaboration of joint projects and arrangement of PhD courses. One of these courses is held within the Arctic Frontiers conference.

The first international conference Arctic Frontiers was held in Tromsø in January 2007, and since then it has developed to be the annual pan-arctic forum that brings politicians, scientists and businesses from different countries together. Traditionally, researchers from Russia have formed the major foreign group of participants and presenters at the Arctic Frontiers Science part, and PhD students – at the Young Scientist Forum. In 2014, Akvaplan-niva signed the Collaboration Agreement with the Russian Geographical Society (RGS), and in 2016, we together with RGS and UiT arranged the first Arctic Student Forum within the Arctic Frontiers.

Akvaplan-niva has been leading and co-organising Norwegian-Russian and international workshops and conferences in Norway and Russia within the programmes of the Norwegian Research Council (PETROMAKS, NORRUSS), Arctic Council (AMAP, PAME, CAFF), Barents Euro-Arctic Council, INTSOK, NEFCO, Joint Norwegian-Russian Commission on Environmental Cooperation.

Picture: Akvaplan-niva research partners in Russia