Anatoliy Kochnev commented on the meeting with Rosneft
“The organization of the hearing itself was not convenient for the clear evaluation of that program and its impact to the environment. Instead of bringing all interested people together at one time, explain the action plan, answer the questions, the Rosneft representatives chose such format when people in small group (or just in person) came to the library all day long and asked the same questions. I think that those representatives were exhausted from the chosen activity. Many Chukotka residents, those who came to the hearing at the beginning (when there were many people) left without clear picture in mind about the details of the proposed project. It gladdened me that the huge volume with description of the project impact on the Chukotka environment was in the hall and people could have a look at it. I did it. I could figure out that in order to make an evaluation of the seismology impact on the biota, the Rosneft representatives used the data of the similar research in the Sea of Okhotsk. However, the Chukchi Sea condition is different from the Sea of Okhotsk, and, for instance, the reaction to the seismology of such important species as pacific walrus and the polar bear was left beyond the environment impact statement. The majority of answers of the Rosneft representatives were oriented and worked out through the Sakhalin offshore project. For instance, they said more than once, that seismology did not harm marine mammal such as whales, just because animals left the area of work . maybe it is true, but it might not be important in the Sea of Okhotsk, where marine mammals are value as the nature objects. The situation is completely different for the Chukchi Sea. The walrus and whales could change their migration routes by avoiding the area of the proposed seismology – it can be crucial and destructive for the life of the Chukotka indigenous peoples. If the change of the migration routes will make animals to pass coastal communities then it could cause famine.
How to avoid it and what kind of compensation could get the indigenous peoples for the change of their livelihood? It left unclear after the meeting.
The Rosneft’ representatives emphasized all the time that according to the law the offshore area of the Chukchi Sea was the property of the whole Russian Federation and not the indigenous peoples. It is important that if serious changes in migration of animals occur then it will not affect the whole Russia but exactly those coastal villages whose livelihood depends on the marine mammal harvest…
I think that there are some imperfections in the legislation, which lets Rosneft gets round of such delicate questions. The proposed works include the presence of the observers on the boats, which will do the seismology. However, such observations will not give us clue of how the number of animals and their migration change. We need aerial photography, satellite tagging, the haul-outs (and other places) monitoring. Such works were not foreseen.
Some representatives showed their interest in conducting such kind of investigation and this gave us hope. It is good that the borders of the site “North Wrangel-1” were moved behind the boundaries of the Nature Reserve “Wrangel Island,” though the project documents in spring had it within the borders. It means that our critique reached the Rosneft managers and they made the changes.
In general, I think that it is necessary to continue the dialogue with Rosneft and, without fail, keep on insisting of bringing Chukotka residents as observers to the research boats, those people, who are indifferent their fate and environment.”
The Head of the laboratory on marine mammals study,