The REGIMES project answers the required research needs of the Research Council of Norway POLARPROG program plan by contributing to the knowledge base about trade-offs between different ecosystem services given the expected changes to the marine environment and management needs in light of this on the archipelago of Svalbard at 78oN, arguably vulnerable environmentally, socially as well as politically to a changing climate. People depend on ecosystem goods and services for their livelihoods, and ecosystem that are indispensable to human health and well-being. Climate change is anticipated to have a variety of effects on the provision of marine ecosystem services, which may have profound impacts on the people, and provides for life’s basic need (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005). Climate change affects marine ecosystems and their services directly through marine resources (e.g., species) distributions and interactions (Cheung, Dunne et al. 2011). By assessing ES and the natural marine system and the effects of value of the services that the natural system provides, we can assess the potential impacts when climate changes.
We chose Svalbard as our study site also is because change is happening in the North Atlantic. Never before have pelagic stocks such as Northeast Atlantic mackerel been seen as far north as now. Because of this change, a cold front has stymied international agreements on how to share the widely distributed stocks. A new era has therefore reached the Arctic; an era instigated by climate change on ES. A case study of Svalbard will provide a better understanding of provision and values of multiple ES and potential trade-offs in marine resource uses and management decisions in the Arctic ecosystem. We argue that Svalbard is in a critical phase of institutionalization of a contested area to become a Norwegian property regime, and it is important to make allowances to this most powerful ally with regards to the ecosystem services of fish stocks, though it is a trade-off. Russia has much to gain by Norway being de jure owners of the Svalbard zone, especially with the hopes of oil and gas discoveries within the zone. And it is no secret that the hopes of Russian politicians lie in being strong leaders in the Arctic: “Our interests are concentrated in the Arctic,” the Russian president Vladimir Putin said, according to Reuters. “And of course we should pay more attention to issues of development of the Arctic and the strengthening of our position [there].”
Finally, the link from Arctic ecosystems services to Arctic society is crucial. It is time for science to meaningfully engage with society: both with current actors and stakeholders and also with the next generation of young citizens through current teachers and students. REGIMES delivers a cohesive, interdisciplinary and inter-societal project that maximizes impact around the theme of ecosystem services and society.