Preservation Bureau of Hokkaido Corporation :
Letter to Exxon Neftegas Ltd. regarding the impact of Sakhalin I development on individual breeding groups of Steller's Sea Eagles
27 August, 2003
Mr. Steve Terni, President
Mr. Larry Smith, Vice-president
Exxon Neftegas Ltd.
80 St., Pushkina, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk 693000, Russia
Regarding the impact of Sakhalin I development on individual breeding groups of Steller's Sea Eagles in northeastern Sakhalin (provision of information and warning to the company).
Every summer since 2000, the Wildlife Preservation Bureau of Hokkaido Corporation in partnership with Moscow State University, has conducted on-the-spot surveys of the breeding situation and behavior of Steller's sea eagles in northeastern Sakhalin. This year, from 16 July to 6 August, we conducted the fourth survey and the information from this survey is attached.
We hereby inform you of various situations of Sakhalin-1, which we identified through the survey as highly potential to impose serious impacts on the survival of Steller's sea eagles in the area.
We also believe that these acts of development violate the Japan-Russia Migratory Birds Act, whose aim is to protect endangered spices such as Steller's sea eagles. With these reasons, we warn Exxon Neftegas Ltd. to do the followings immediately: a) disclose the current version of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA); b) reinvestigate the natural environment of the entire development area; c) develop another EIA based on the renewed investigations of the natural environment; and d) improve the situations of areas where harmful effects are expected.
We await your response explaining how you will address the situation.
Wildlife Preservation Bureau of Hokkaido Corporation
Norio Gomi, Director
(Person in Charge: Mr. Keisuke Saito, research manager & veterinarian)
Contact: 2-2101 Hokuto, Kushiro-shi, Hokkaido 084-0922, Japan
||The Fourth Japan-Russia Steller's Sea Eagle Survey Report
Mr. Keisuke Saito, research manager and veterinarian at the Wildlife Preservation Bureau of Hokkaido Corporation (Japanese representative).
Professor Vladimir Masterov, Moscow State University (Russian representative).
Ms. Yukiko Watanabe, researcher and veterinarian at the Wildlife Preservation Bureau of Hokkaido Corporation.
Mr. Masateru Umemoto, Japanese Bird Banding Association.
(Other: HTB [Hokkaido Television Broadcasting Co., Ltd.] crew - 3 members; Yomiuri newspaper reporter - 1 member; NHK [Japan Broadcasting Corporation] crew - 3 members)
Every bay and river on the coast of northeastern Sakhalin, Russian Federation
Every bay of Piltun, Chaivo, and Dagi (Nyisky)
Every bay of Nabilsky, Lunskoye
16 July 2003 ~ 6 August 2003
Results (main points related to the conditions around Chaivo Bay):
・ During the survey period, we fitted 14 nestlings from treetop nests with transmitters and tags (Russian leg rings).
・ At Chaivo Bay, we confirmed that at least 15 pairs have bred
this year. Due to time and access constraints, we could not
survey the entire bay area, so we suppose that in fact there
are even more breeding eagles living there. Further, there are many
young non-breeding eagles living in the area.
・ We visited the Sakhalin I development site in the Chaivo Bay
(entered by permission at checkpoint). We recorded current
situations of development, including large-scale infrastructure
constructions such as facilities, roads, a big iron bridge over Chaivo
Bay an enormous oil rig, and so on. The development work was
going on around the clock. The site was lit up with massive lights
at night, and large noises rang through the area constantly. It was
also confirmed that numbers of workers and large vehicles have been
going in and out of the area being very close to the Steller's
sea eagles' breeding ground.
・ Sakhalin-I has a plan to build a pipeline connecting the iron
bridge and the oilrig, which both are currently under construction
on the sand spit of Chaivo Bay. Trees were already cut down,
forming a path of two meters width, for the pipeline route. We discovered
a nest of a Steller's sea eagle that bred on top of a tree located
only 6.5 meters away from the center of the route. We tagged
the nestling in the nest. The nest was situated in the distance of
400 to 500 meters from the oilrig under construction. (Lat. 52°
28' 50'' N. and long. 143° 16' 26" E.; nesting tree: larch, 44cm,
9m.) We learned that the plan is to remove the surface soil of
the area within 20 meters both ends from the center of the pipeline
route. It means that the nesting tree is doomed to be cut down
for sure. (A man in charge of the environmental matters in
ABB, a development firm, witnessed during our survey.)
・ We also surveyed another breeding nest situated at (lat. 52°
30' 35'' N. and long. 143° 13' 19" E.) about 200 meters away
from the construction sites for the buildings, roads and the
bridge under construction in the Chaivo Bay area. A nestling was identified
in the nest, while three female officers in charge of environmental
conservation at ABB were present.
・ Even another breeding nest was located at lat. 52° 29' 53'' N.
and long. 143° 13' 10" E., about 600 meters away from the construction
site. Besides these, we could identify many breeding nests
of the Steller's sea eagles on and around the development site.
We understand from surveys completed until now, that there are about eighty pairs breeding in the bay areas of northeastern Sakhalin, and we have found more than 200 nests. Also, including mature birds not involved in breeding, subadult birds and juvenile birds, it is estimated that in summer, at least 250 Steller's sea eagles are living the coastal area of the bays (including the river mouth areas of inflowing rivers). We infer from survey results up until now that there are about 30 pairs of Steller's sea eagles living in Chaivo Bay, and we have confirmed even more subadult and juvenile birds.
These eagles rely mainly on the fish in the bays and rivers for food. This is a very important food source, particularly for breeding eagles raising nestlings, and so it is clear that environmental damage caused by development and accidents involving discharge of oil, etc. will have a huge impact on the survival of the species.
It is thought that the following will influence the eagles; direct damage to nesting environment and food sources' environment by development, noise, nighttime illumination, disturbance of breeding by people and vehicles, impact of oil spill accidents on food sources, and so on. Also, it is essential to consider the same concerns with regard to non-breeding pairs, subadult and juvenile birds, etc.
About 80% of the eagles which we fitted with transmitters in northeastern Sakhalin have been identified in Hokkaido, proving that the very same birds which are fully protected under Japanese law are threatened by a serious crisis in Sakhalin.
Steller's sea eagles are one of the species covered by the Japan-Russia Migratory Birds Act. It is possible that the oil field development in Sakhalin will have a serious impact on their existence (particularly on breeding). There are many acts of current development that already have contravened the Japan-Russia Migratory Bird Treaty.
The Wildlife Preservation Bureau of Hokkaido Corporation strongly urge your company the to do the following: 1) disclose Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA); 2) improve the current situation immediately; 3) conduct another detailed survey of rare species, such as the Steller's sea eagle; and 4) establish a general conservation framework (proposal) based on the survey results.
(Attachments: Maps of the development area of northeastern Chaivo Bay and Steller's sea eagle's nesting places; Photographs of survey environment).