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Photo: Trine Lise Sviggum Helgerud, NPI.

Highlights

Since the 1980s, the Barents Sea has gone from a situation with high fishing pressure, cold conditions and low demersal fish stock levels, to the current situation with relatively high demersal fish stock sizes, reduced fishing pressure and warm conditions. The current situation is unprecedented, and the Barents Sea appears to be changing rapidly. The main points for 2020 are:

Photo: Thor S. Larsen, Norwegian Polar Institute

Highlights

Since the 1980s, the Barents Sea has gone from a situation with high fishing pressure, cold conditions and low demersal fish stock levels, to the current situation with high levels of demersal fish stocks, reduced fishing pressure and warm conditions.

Snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio). Photo: Lidunn M. Boge © Nofima

Highlights

Summary Since the 1980s, the Barents Sea has gone from a situation with high fishing pressure, cold conditions and low demersal fish stock levels, to the current situation with high levels of demersal fish stocks, and warm conditions.

Photo: Ann Kristin Balto, Norwegian Polar Institute

Highlights

Since the 1980s, the Barents Sea has gone from a situation with high fishing pressure, cold conditions and low demersal fish stock levels, to the current situation with high levels of demersal fish stocks, reduced fishing pressure and warm conditions. The cur-rent situation is unprecedented, and the Barents Sea appears to be changing rapidly. 

Photo: Jon Aars, Norwegian Polar Institute

Highlights

Since the 1980s the Barents Sea has gone from a situation with high fishing pressure, cold conditions and low demersal fish stock levels, to the current situation with high levels of demersal fish stocks, reduced fishing pressure and warm conditions. The current situation is unprecedented and the Barents Sea appears to be changing rapidly. The main points for 2016 are listed below:

Narwhal (Monodon monoceros). Photo: Kit Kovacs & Christian Lydersen, Norwegian Polar Institute

Highlights

The Norwegian-Russian environmental status report on the Barents Sea ecosystem is a project under the Joint Norwegian-Russian Commission on Environmental Cooperation, and is part of the Commission's work programme for 2013-2015. This work is carried out within the Marine working group and represents an update of the common environment status first published in 2009, at www.barentsportal.com. More than 130 experts from a total of nine Russian and 22 Norwegian management and research institutions have participated in the preparation of the report, and the work has been organized in 13 expert groups. The project has been led by institutions in Russia (SEVMORGEO and PINRO) and Norway (NPI and IMR). Expert groups began their work in March 2015, and the report is based on data collected in 2013-2014 and earlier.

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Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are carbon-based persistent chemicals found in all compartments of the Arctic ecosystem. They mainly originate from industrialized areas further south and are transported to the Arctic by air and ocean currents, rivers and sea ice. In the environment, organisms can accumulate POPs in their tissues that further get transferred and biomagnified through the food web. Due to their toxicity, exposure to high concentrations of POPs is of concern for wildlife’s health.

Polar bear in pack ice. Photo: Norwegian Polar Institute

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The extent, thickness and age of Arctic sea ice has dramatically declined since the late 1990s, and these trends are predicted to continue. Polar bears rely on sea ice for hunting, resting, travelling and in some parts of the Arctic also reproduction. Hence, exploring the habitat use of this sea-ice-dependent species can help us understand which resources they use and how their distribution responds to a changing environment.

Photo: Rudi Jozef Maria Caeyers, Norwegian Polar Institute

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The polar front is defined as the boundary in the Barents Sea which divides relatively warm, saline water masses of Atlantic origin and colder, fresher water masses of Arctic origin. This front is particularly distinct not only around Spitsbergen Bank and the Hopen Deep, but also around Central Bank and to some extent eastwards in the Barents Sea. Due to the physical characteristics and implications for biological activity, this area is identified as a particularly valuable and vulnerable area. This report summarises the physical characteristics of the front, and its variation in time and space. A summary is also presented of the biological activity in the polar front region and its value and vulnerability.

Polar bear in pack ice. Photo: Norwegian Polar Institute

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The Arctic is warming, and Arctic sea ice has shown a rapid decrease in sea ice extent, ice thickness, and ice age in the last decades. Polar bears rely on sea ice for hunting, resting, travelling and in some parts of the Arctic also reproduction. However, in the European Arctic, polar bears rely on snow drifts on land to den and get their young. Consequently, the timing of sea ice arrival around different land masses in the Barents Sea is important for the reproductive success of individuals spending most of the year on the sea ice. If pregnant females are unable to reach denning habitat by the end of the year (November/ December) they will most likely not be able to reproduce (Derocher et al. 2011).

Photo: Tor I. Karlsen, Norwegian Polar Institute.

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The report on the marginal ice zone covers the part of the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea where the marginal ice zone is present throughout all or part of the year. A brief summary is presented below based on findings and conclusions in the report. Production conditions, the prevalence of species, vulnerability to different types of impacts and how this varies both through the year and between years have implications as regards the extent to which the marginal ice zone is valuable and vulnerable.