The following themes can be classified in this category:
- Long range transboundary pollution (chapter Issues of importance for ecosystem based management - Pollution)
- Risk of radioactive pollution (chapter Issues of importance for ecosystem based management - Pollution)
Presently, the main source of pollutants in the Barents Sea is long range transboundary pollution. Of particular concern are POPs, because they bioaccumulate in the food chain and may be found in high concentrations in top predators. The levels of most substances have declined during the last decade due to reduced use and emission. However, the last few years, there has been an increasing trend for some of the legacy POPs. This is believed to be related to climate change. Another concern is the accumulation of new hazardous substances, not regulated by international agreements, in the Arctic.
POPs can inhibit immune-system functions and cause developmental problems in fetuses or young individuals. Such effects have been proven in top predators in the Barents Sea (polar bears, glaucous gulls). However, it is not clear whether populations are significantly affected. The theme is therefore listed here under the category “Deviations from goals without impact on the ecosystem”. If further studies should indicate that significant population effects do occur, the theme may more appropriately be listed in under the category of “Demonstrated or likely impact on the ecosystem” (chapter Summary and concluding remarks about ecosystem based management - Summary of themes relevant for ecosystem based management above).
There are a number of nuclear installations and accumulations of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel in Northwest Russia. This represents a potential risk of radioactive pollution in the region, including the Barents Sea. Although significant national and international measures have been implemented to reduce the probability of radioactive contamination, a risk still remains in the Barents Sea. If such pollution would pass without significant effects on population dynamics of affected species, the theme is correctly classified here in the category “Deviations from goals without impact on the ecosystem”. If potential spills are indeed possible on a scale that can result in impacts on populations, the theme should be listed in the category “Risk of impact in the future” (chapter Summary and concluding remarks about ecosystem based management - Summary of themes relevant for ecosystem based management above).