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Preliminary results of Baltic seal telemetry studies obtained

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World Pipelines,

Nord Stream 2 AG, the developer of a new pipeline to supply Russian natural gas to the EU market through the Baltic Sea, is supporting a programme of telemetry studies of the Baltic ringed seal in the Gulf of Finland.

Launched in summer 2017, the scientific research is being carried out by an international group of experts in agreement with Rosprirodnadzor, the Russian environmental oversight body. In 2Q17 - 3Q17, telemetry GPS/GSM tags were attached to nine ringed seals in the north of the Kurgalsky peninsula and Moshchny Island. Because the population of ringed seals in the Gulf of Finland is around 100, the research covered approximately 9% of the population. A representative body of data will be collected, making it possible to draw reliable conclusions on seal behaviour in the marine environment. Expanding scientific knowledge is vital for developing an effective strategy to preserve the population of this protected species.

On 23 January 2018, Mikhail Verevkin, a researcher at SPbSC RAS and the project’s research lead from the Russian side, and Mart Jussi, Director of the non-profit consultancy Pro Mare and the project’s research lead from the Estonian side, presented the preliminary results obtained over six months of research. Their presentation took place at a meeting of the Ecology and Natural Resources joint scientific council of the St. Petersburg Scientific Center under the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS SPbSC) and Nord Stream 2 AG. Participants in the meeting, which was chaired by S.G. Inge-Vechtomov, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, included members of the RAS SPbSC, Nord Stream 2 experts, specialists on marine mammals and representatives of state bodies, environmental organisations and the public.

SPbSC RAS’ Chief Scientific Secretary G.V. Dvas commented: “Effective resolution of such transboundary environmental issues as the preservation of the Baltic ringed seal population in the Gulf of Finland is only possible through international co-operation and by engaging not just the scientific community but also the private sector.”

Verevkin said: “Lack of knowledge about the ecology of the Baltic ringed seal is the main problem in developing effective measures to preserve the population of these pinnipeds in the Gulf of Finland. This research is of great scientific and practical interest in view of its scale and duration.”

Supporting telemetry studies of the ringed seal is part of the comprehensive programme of environmental and social initiatives for implementation in Russia developed by Nord Stream 2 AG in line with international standards. The programem’s priorities include preservation of biodiversity in the Baltic region and support of scientific research.

Data collection this season will continue until May. By September, experts will prepare the final report, analysing the body of data collected during the nine month project. With preliminary results indicating that the 2017 campaign was implemented successfully, Nord Stream 2 AG has decided to extend the research into 2018 - 2019.

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