Svalbard fjord with glacier

Flagship Fjord and Coast

29. January 2016

Fjords and Coastal areas are not just the literal boundary between fresh water, terrestrial and open sea ecosystems, they are also the practical interface whereby humans have been interacting with, and adapting to, their natural surroundings for thousands of years. This makes coupled natural and social science studies critical for assessing ecosystem status, and provides the foundation for understanding the future of the primary biological and socio-economic drivers of development in the northern regions.

In order to support a sustainable use of the resources and maintain ecosystem integrity, the management of fjords and coastal areas must be based on 1) a compre­hensive, integrated management of human activities, and 2) the best available scientific and traditional knowledge about the ecosys­tem and its dynamics (Arctic Council 2013). Such a strategy requires both an improved understanding of what a fully-functioning ecosystem means, and the identification of threats to system integrity. Only through a multidisciplinary approach can we identify the biological and physical characteristics of nearshore systems; the processes that determine ecosystem functioning; and the ecological, economic, and cultural services the ecosystem bestows.