R/V Sikuliaq Community and Environmental Compliance Standard Operating Procedure


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Jan 25 2017

Community and Environmental Compliance Standard Operating Procedures (CECSOP) for R/V Sikuliaq Research Operations

The R/V Sikuliaq is owned by the National Science Foundation and operated through a Cooperative Agreement by the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences (CFOS) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). The vessel is designed to support a wide variety of research activities and operate in arctic and sub-arctic regions where Alaska Native marine mammal harvest activities for subsistence use may simultaneously occur. In light of the importance of maritime subsistence activities to coastal communities in these regions (Figure 1), this document is intended to provide guidance and explain standard operating procedures (SOPs) to Principal Investigators (PIs) that intend to use the R/V Sikuliaq to conduct research activities.

Specifically, this document, the Community and Environmental Compliance Standard Operating Procedures (CECSOP), states the standard operating practices aboard the Sikuliaq; provides guidance to  identify/communicate/mitigate potential impacts on, or time/area conflicts with, maritime subsistence harvest areas, activities, and resources; explains environmental compliance procedures; and describes the various roles and responsibilities of individuals involved in these processes. These SOPs are intended to support best practices while facilitating use of this unique vessel, enhance cruise success, encourage appropriate and necessary outreach to potentially interested coastal communities (e.g., Tribal leadership, Alaskan Native organizations, co-management entities that participate in management of marine mammals, and other community and regional organizations), and ensure compliance with applicable federal environmental regulations (e.g., National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), and Endangered Species Act (ESA). To the extent possible, the CECSOP was prepared to take into consideration the Arctic Waterways Safety Committee (AWSC) Standard of Care for Research Cruise Operations (SOC)1 document, which was also being developed at the time of this document preparation. The AWSC is a coordination group comprised of Arctic waterway stakeholders (e.g., individuals and representatives from Alaska Native Organizations, industry, local government, and others) that is meant to provide a unified forum for local marine interests in the Alaskan Arctic, and to act collectively on behalf of those interests to ensure a safe, efficient, and predictable operating environment for all current and future users of arctic waterways. The CECSOP provided here is a living document and may be adjusted in the future based on new guidance, such as a revised AWSC SOC or other best practices that are identified.

The R/V Sikuliaq general guidance for research activities is described in Section I, while the SOPs are described and organized in Section II of this document as pre-cruise, cruise, and postcruise activities. Section III explains personnel roles and responsibilities. While the SOPs reflect current best practices, each research activity is unique and may require additional, or modified, procedures to successfully conduct research activities on the R/V Sikuliaq to achieve research goals. UAF and CFOS personnel that manage the R/V Sikuliaq are dedicated to assist R/V Sikuliaq Community and Environmental Compliance SOP and support PIs in complying with these or modified SOPs.

Continue to read the CECSOP document as a PDF.
For more context on this document, read Development of best practices for scientific research vessel operations in a changing Arctic: A case study for R/V Sikuliaq.