Mapping of environmental toxins in haddock of the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea
Start date: 1. September 2014
In cooperation with: Institute of Marine Research
The project is lead by: NIFES


NIFES is leading in promoting and performing larger baseline studies for the major commercial species in Norwegian fisheries. The aim is to generate basic knowledge on the concentration of contaminants, in variation with geography, season, tissue, size and sex.

Haddock is one of the five most caught fish in weight in Norwegian fisheries with an annual catch volume exceeding 100 000 tons, constituting around 1/13th of the total Norwegian fishery profits in 2013.

Haddock is the main ingredient in a traditional children’s dish, fiskeboller, i.e. fish dumplings. Considering the vulnerability of developing children, combined with their relatively high food intake per weight, adds to the importance of good assessment of contaminants in haddock.

In addition to food-related considerations, haddock could be an adequate environmental indicator because its main prey are animals living in the sediment. Contaminants enriched in sediment, e.g. pesticides, might therefore bioaccumulate in haddock liver. Investigations of pesticides gained public interest recently, and many pesticides have been prioritized in the Water Framework Directive 2013. Additionally, the ministry of fisheries has commented that environmental toxins in sediments should be linked to seafood safety.


We planned this project in the scope of the recent investment of the Norwegian state in seafood surveillance. The aim is to conduct a full baseline study of haddock over 3 years in close collaboration with the Institute of Marine Research, strengthened by regular meetings. The purpose of the project is to provide a comprehensive representation of the situation of contaminations with toxic elements and persistent organic pollutants/pesticides in haddock filet and liver in the Barents Sea, the Norwegian Sea and the North Sea. Together, this will provide a scientific basis for assessing seafood safety.

25 fishes from 33 areas will be collected within a short period in order to analyze the geographical distribution of named contaminations, and another 25 fishes in each of two further periods within the same year in 10 of the most interesting of the aforementioned areas, in order to assess the seasonal variation. We will compare the results with former baseline studies in different species, and with sediment analysis data, which is available on

The results shall be accessible for the public through the seafood database, scientific publications and a popular scientific publication. We will provide reports for the Norwegian Food Safety Authority.

Tip a friend


Email has been sent