SOME URGENT ACTIVITIES AND PRESENT SITUATION AT THE BERINGIA ECOSYSTEM

For the time being, we can see a really catastrophical situation with population of sea otters near Alaska and Aleutian Islands.They almost just disappear for unknown reasons.

sea otters are once again vanishing from Alaska's 1,000-mile Aleutian chain and other parts of southwestern Alaska. This time, there is no obvious explanation. Alaska's sea otter population numbered 100,000 to 137,000 in the 1980s, with its core in the Aleutians and western Alaska. But numbers fell 70 percent from 1992 to 2000, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Some Aleutian populations are down to just a few thousand, about 5 percent of 1980s' levels, the agency said. (Alaska sea otters' disappearance a mystery Alaska sea otters' disappearance a mystery Thursday, February 05, 2004, By Yereth Rosen ANCHORAGE, Alaska ). And that the trend is continuing

After all and once again, the Fish and Wildlife Service, which shares responsibility for protecting endangered species with the Commerce Department's National Marine Fisheries Service had to move the sea otters to the list of endangered species at the USA.

Almost the same situation is occurring with Steller Sea Lions and some other species which are in the top level of the feeding chain.

All these facts clearly display that something is drastically wrong with the natural functions in the whole ecosystem of the Bering Sea.

Around the Commander Islands we can found of most biologically productive and diverse marine environments.The main reason are in unique combination some geological and hydrological factors around this small area. Also, near Commander Islands there are a few huge and active under water volcanoes. All together its form the most favorable conditions for phito and zoo plankton which formed the base of living for the other high range organisms at the Ecosystem. Its the main factors of the huge biodiversity of the seaweeds near the coastal line of the Islands too. Actually, its one of the richest area of seaweeds by species and biomass in the World.

So, I can establish beyond doubt that for many natural, historical, economic and other reasons the Commander Islands is an essential focal point for field expedition work and finally for conservation projects in the unique ecosystem of the North Pacific.

The urgency of the initiatives to be funded have been confirmed many times over by UNESCO.

Already in 1993 the Commander Islands received the status of Nature Reserve under Russian Federal Law.

In 2002 the Commander Islands received Biosphere Status under UNESCO guidelines.

We are hopeful (with all of documents ready and with UNESCO approval) that in 2003 the Commander Islands will obtain the highest status of World Nature Heritage Site under UNESCO.

Everybody acknowledges that the Commander Islands can serve as a wonderful model and preserve for the study of the Bering Sea ecosystems natural processes, which is now starting to suffer stagnation and collapse. But even for now we dont have real financial support for practical actions on the Commander Islands.

According to the role under UNESCO, the Biosphere Status of the Commander Islands Reserve and the Nature Heritage Status supposed and must to do close work with native people ( their population around 300- mainly Aleut ). First - they are going to work at the Reserve like a staff; the second - they can use some natural resources at the some special zones at the Reserve; third - they will accept some training programs at the Reserve and do all kind of native activity outside and inside at the Reserve and finally some of the territory on the Commander has been leaved for native people for fishing, hunting and harvesting.

Actually its only one problem up there. During a long social breaking stile of life of the native people on the Commander in mean time most of them lost their ability to work with Nature. Thats why one of the goal of the Biosphere Reserve will be restoring and safing some unique part of social and economics culture the native people on the Commander Islands. On the other hand, especially for Aleuts, extremely important to feel that their Islands will be safe with Nature forever!

And the last things

In August, 2003, on the Bering Island (largest Island from the Commander archipelago) from the ocean was throw out the container (around nineteen cubic miters capacity). The container was full in with some kind of polymeric liquid, which use in the building industry and produce at the USA.

With big efforts the locals can manage to move more far the container from the ocean and putted it in the safe position on the beach. Unfortunately, most of the aggressive liquid was flow away to the ocean. Luckily the storm weather and direction of the wind to finish the poison split away from the breeding colony of fur seals, sea otters, sea lions, seals and marine birds, but just towards to the another unique Island, calls Ariy, where the natural habitat full of life.

It means, like an additional reminder, that will be so necessarily to think urgently points about organizing on the Commander Islands some kind of International Monitoring Observation Center, which can based at the Commander Biosphere Reserve.

The local administration also highly support this idea, indeed.


Dr. Vladimir Sevostianov
President of the Commander Islands & BC Nature Protection and Conservation Association, ( Canada Russia )

Web Site: http://home.comcast.net/~mishkabear/island/
E-Mail: seaotter3@hotmail.com, seaotter@ratrunner.com
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