Environmental Monitoring of Sikuki Nuuk Harbour

Development of Monitoring Methods 

The development, operation and maintenance of coastal infrastructure has the potential to impact the marine environment through potential pollution of water and sediment quality. Managing and monitoring programs are thus an important factor when building a new harbour infrastructure. 

Sikuki Nuuk Harbour is one of the largest infrastructure projects in Greenland and home to significant shipping traffic. In collaboration with the Ministry of Nature and Environment we have developed a 5 year environmental monitoring program.  

The program include sampling and analysis of blue mussels and sediment samples, as they are both good indicators of habitat quality and pollution exposure. The samples were taken from five different areas, including three stations nearby and two reference stations away from the new harbour. The levels of contaminants measured from the reference sites were compared to established environmental quality thresholds.

An Indicator Species

Indicator species are animals, plants, or microorganism used to monitor changes in the environment. A species can tell us about the impact of pollution on an ecosystem, or how well a damaged environment is being managed or restored. Indicator species can also provide warning signals for upcoming changes or shifts to an ecosystem, such as climate change.

In the monitoring of the Sikuki Nuuk Harbour we used blue mussels (Mytilus spp.) as a bioindicater in order to indicate the impact of potential coastal water pollution like toxic chemicals, including trace metals, PAHs and PCBs, in the areas.

The monitoring program started in 2017 where baseline studies where conducted. For the next five years, we will determine whether the new Sikuki Nuuk Harbour has the potential to pollute the marine environment in the area.

A species can tell us about the impact of pollution on an ecosystem, or how well a damaged environment is being managed or restored.