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7. Risk assessment

The risk assessment, as carried out in the regional workshop, is forward-looking (50 years timescale).  Its purpose is to provide statements of the situation that the marine environment is likely to be in if current management of human activities is not changed.  It is designed to provide policy- and decision-makers with feedback on the long-term (50 years) consequences of current management and to highlight specific risks that are deemed by the workshop experts to warrant the greatest attention. 

It is emphasized that the experts are instructed to only consider what is likely to occur if there are no changes to current policies; experts are not allowed to second-guess what decisions governments may or may not take in the future.

The risk assessment is a two-step process.  Experts first assess the likelihood that an event will occur in the next 50 years.  The experts are then asked to judge the consequences of an event occurring in terms of its overall impact on the marine environment. 

A total of 9 risks have been assessed for the region of the assessment (table below).

  • The risk that fish stocks will collapse due to overfishing is assessed to be a significant environmental and socio-economic risk. Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fisheries also remains a significant risk, if no further control and supervision is installed.
  • The environmental risk of pollution during oil and gas exploration and production is assessed to be moderate, contrary to the risk of major oil spills due to disasters, which poses a significant risk, as there is little capacity in the region to deal with this. The experts at the workshop assessed that this is a significant environmental risk in the region.
  • Risks due to sea level rise itself are assessed to be a significant environmental risk.
  • The risk of economic losses (impact on the national economies) due to sea level rise is assessed to be significant.
  • The risk of coastal erosion will remain significant for the environment.
  • Displacement of coastal populations due to sea level rise is a significant risk.
  • The risks for economic losses due to coastal erosion is significant and the economic consequences are high.

Group Risk factor Risk in 5 years Risk in 50 years
High Signi- ficant Mod- erate Low High Signi- ficant Mod- erate Low
Fishing Risk: Illegal fishing continues unchecked Significant risk
Fishing Risk: Major crash in fisheries Significant risk
Oil & gas Risk: Pollution during oil and gas exploration and production
Oil & gas Risk: Major oil spills Significant risk
Climate change Risk: Sea level rise Significant risk
Climate change Risk: Economic impacts of sea level rise Significant risk
Coastal erosion Risk: Coastal erosion will continue Significant risk
Coastal erosion Risk: Displacement of coastal populations Significant risk
Coastal erosion Risk: Economic loss High risk
Legend
Risk value  
Risk grades
 High
 Significant
 Moderate
 Low