Suspended matter, phytoplankton and light attenuation were investigated in various North East Greenland, Svalbard and Siberian river mouths in 1992-1994. The amount of mineral suspensions well correlated with freshwater discharge in the case of tidal glacier bays, while such correlation in Siberian rivers and pack ice meltwater was not found. Freshwater phytoplankton species were found in Siberian estuaries only and in two other ecosystems marine and ice phytoplankton species prevailed. The light attenuation connected with freshwater discharge seems to be a key factor limiting primary production in coastal Actic waters in the summer. The amount of glacial suspensions well correlated with the salinity drop in the case of Svalbard, while Siberian river estuaries produced very turbid waters with the suspension loads not correlated to freshwater or depth.