(3) Identifying relevant impact factors in the NSR
As all impact factors are assumed to be linked to either normal operations and/or accidental events, probability of impact in the NSR relates to one or more of the following three factors.
* Operations of individual ships, including supporting icebreakers
* Port/harbor facilities (cargo storage, cargo handling equipment, support of fuel and crew, and waste reception facilities)
* Infrastructure for cargo and crew support
The first element listed above is considered entirely marine in nature, while the last component is considered land-based, The second element represents the intermediate link between land and sea. The main activities above can be broken down into sub-activities - the specific activities in situ, used to identify the corresponding impact factors, which can be grouped into the following five categories.
* Emission to air
* Physical disturbance
* Discharge to sea, ice and/or land
* Changes of development pattern
The above categories are used as a reference for classifying the impact factors for ships; for environmental factors related to port facilities and infrastructures, please refer to Thomassen et al. (WP-162). Operational and accidental ship factors are summarized in Table 4.5-4. Using these factors, it is possible to carry out an environmental impact assessment, as described in Section 4.5.4.
4.5.4 Environmental Impact Assessments
The term "environmental impact assessment" is often surrounded by much confusion, as a wide divergence of opinions exists as to its definition and objectives. This discrepancy is often the cause of many hours of debate between developers and environmentalists concerning the severity of an activity's environmental impact. The definition of terminologies in environmental impact assessment is inconsistent and evaluation procedures often lack transparency and reliability. Moreover, data on which a reliable conclusion can be based are frequently in short supply; doubts about evaluation procedures are often rooted in a lack of adequate data. Therefore, it is crucial the principles of environmental impact assessment applied and the actual methods used be clearly laid out. Environmental impact assessment in the NSR consists of the following three key elements. Elements (1) and (2) have already been discussed, in Sections 4.5.3 and 4.5.2 respectively. Element (3) will be an approach to evaluate the effects of the element (1) on the element (2), both qualitatively and quantitatively.
1) Selection of impact factors from the operation of ships in the NSR
2) Assessment through quantitative distribution of valued ecosystem components
3) Environmental impact assessment
(1) Biological impact
Impact factors incur direct biological effects through either chemical toxicity and/or mechanical stress, when the habitat of organisms is disturbed either chemically or physically so that important functions of the creatures, such as photosynthesis, enzyme, nervous system, thermal regulation, food consumption, reproduction and other behaviors are inhibited. Organisms that are not affected directly may be indirectly affected by changes in co-existence dynamics such as the interactions between prey and predator.