Since 2006, NIFES have conducted a series of baseline studies to map the levels of contaminants in the most important commercial fish species. So far, comprehensive baseline studies have been completed for Norwegian Spring-spawning herring (NSS-herring), North Sea herring, Greenland halibut, mackerel, Atlantic cod and saithe. These baseline studies form the basis for further knowledge-based and targeted monitoring of these species.
In this project, a follow-up monitoring is conducted for all the species where baseline studies have been completed. For Atlantic cod and saithe, monitoring is conducted every year in the Barents Sea, the Norwegian Sea and the North Sea. NSS-herring from the Norwegian Sea and North Sea herring from the North Sea is monitored only every third year, since results from the baseline study showed that annual monitoring was not necessary. Mackerel is monitored annually in Skagerrak and every third year in the North Sea. The baseline study for Greenland halibut showed that the levels of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs were high in this species in some geographical areas. As a result, two defined areas off the coast of Nordland were closed for fishing of Greenland halibut by the Norwegian authorities in the period 2012-2015. In this period, annual monitoring of Greenland halibut was conducted with main focus on the areas in and around the closed areas. This annual monitoring showed lower levels of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs, and as a result, these areas were reopened for fishing of Greenland halibut in 2016. In 2017, monitoring of Greenland halibut will be conducted in other important areas for commercial fishing of this species,
The purpose of this study is to ensure reliable and updated information on the levels of contaminants in the most important commercial fish species in Norway. The monitoring aims to document the contaminant levels over time, and to ensure that levels above the maximum limits are detected. Levels exceeding the maximum levels are reported to the authorities as a basis for possible action.