The actual area is inhabited by 28 fish species which are either on the Global Red List (8 species), or on the Norwegian Red List (25 species). Among these 13 are DD species, i.e. no scaled evaluation can be done because of lack of knowledge, but the species would probably be on the red list if adequate information had been available. When considering the marine fish species on red lists and threats, there seems to be three main groups of impact factors to be considered: (i) fisheries (catch and by-catch), (ii) environmental deterioration (pollution, habitat destruction), and (iii) climatic changes.
Fisheries are by far the most important impact on the red listed species today, but climatic changes can be equally or more important – and less controllable – in the future.
Among the fish species on the Norwegian Red List that inhabit the actual area, 8 species are classified as threatened species (CR, EN, VU). Of these, two species are classified as CR, critically endangered:
- Squalus acanthias. ICES considers spurdog in the entire area from the Barents Sea in the north of Biscay in the south belonging to the same population. ICES catch statistics show a steady and marked decline since 1973 (about 33 000 tonnes) to 2003 (in 5000 tonnes) (ICES 2006a. ICES 2006b. Jones and Ugland, 2001). Due to late maturity and low fecundity this species is very vulnerable to overfishing
- The other critically endangered species on the Norwegian red list is eel (Anguilla anguilla). This species is not considered further here because it is anadromous and of marginal importance in the Barents Sea.
And five species are classified as VU, vulnerable:
- Lamna nasus, Porbeagles have a long life expectancy and low reproductive ability. It is very vulnerable to overfishing. Reported catches have fallen from over 1000 tons in the 1960s, to about 20 tons in 2002. ICES recommends no fishing of this species and it is assumed that it will take at least 25 years rebuild the stock, even with a minimum capture. (Kohler, Turner, Hoey, Natanson and Briggs, 2002. ICES 2006b)
- Molva dypterygia exists in the entire area and are fished commercially (ICES 2006f). The Norwegian catches have been reduced from more than 2000 tons in 1960 to less than 500 tons in 2004. Fisheries directed for blue ling is now stopped and it is only taken as a by catch in the ling fishery. The closely related ling (Molva molva) is listed as NT. After a severe decline in the past, this species now seem to be stabilizing or even increasing again in the northern part of its distribution area
- Sebastes marinus and Sebastes mentella exists in the entire area and are fished commercially ICES (2006d). Both species has decreased considerably, probably due to overfishing. ICES consider both species to have reduced reproductive capacity, and they therefore need protection to allow the stocks to rebuild
- Ammodytes marinus This species is most important in the North Sea, but are also found along the coast of northern Norway and in the Barents Sea (Holland, et al. 2005. ICES 2006e). This species is classified as VU on the red list mainly due to overfishing in the North Sea
- Gadus morhua, cod, and Melanogrammus aeglefinus, haddock, are on the international red list, but none of them are considered threatened in the Barents Sea. The populations of coastal cod along the northern Norwegian coast is, however, rated as critical (CR) because of ongoing population reduction, poor recruitment and lack of effective regulation (ICES 2006d).
In addition to Molva molva, mentioned above, Hippoglossus hippoglossus, Somniosus microcephalus, Theragra finnmarchica and Trisopterus esmarkii are listed as NT, near threatened, on the Norwegian red list, and Chimaera monstrosa is listed in the same category on the international red list.
Among these species Trisopterus esmarkii and Chimera monstrosa is of minor importance in the Barents Sea.
The assessment of Hippoglossus hippoglossus as NT on the red list is based on the development of the Norwegian catch statistics over the last 3 generations (45 years). North of 62oN population has increased again during the last 10-year period, and there the recruitment seems to be good. Still halibut is considered threatened by overfishing because of long generation time.
According ICES the population of the once common Greenland shark, Somniosus microcephalus, in the Northeast Atlantic is now very low, and are rarely caught and registered. The species is widespread in the cold ocean in the northern hemisphere, but its biology poorly known. For reasons of its slow growth, late maturity and low fecundity this species is listed as NT in Norway in accordance to the precautionary principle (ICES 2006b).
Fewer than 60 individuals of Theragra finnmarchica, which according to resent studies may be a stock of T. chalcogramma, are known from 16 localities, all (with one exception) in the Norwegian sector, particularly outside the Tana fjord. All individuals have so far only been large specimens, most of them ready for spawning or spawned.