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Wildlife 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
TEL:+81-154-56-2051 FAX:+81-154-56-2052      

The Fourth Japan-Russia Steller's Sea Eagle Survey Report
(Summary Report)

Survey members:
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)

Survey area:
Every bay and river on the coast of northeastern Sakhalin, Russian Federation

Tagging survey:
Every bay of Piltun, Chaivo, and Dagi (Nyisky)

Every bay of Nabilsky, Lunskoye

Survey date:
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).

(c) 2002 FoE Japan.  All RIghts Reserved.

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