Notice. Good environmental cooperation between Russia and Norway is important for taking care of the environment and managing the resources in the north. Due to Russia's war of attacks on Ukraine, government cooperation between the Norway and Russia has been reduced to a minimum and bilateral environmental cooperation has been put on hold until further notice. Hence, update of the Barentsportal concerning the environmental status for the Barents Sea has been put on hold.

4.9 Benthic habitat integrity and benthos vulnerability

Benthic trawling. Photo: Norwegian Polar Institute

Interactions, drivers and pressures 2017
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With retreating sea ice, new areas in the northern Barents Sea become available for fisheries, including bottom trawlers. Of special interest to WGIBAR is therefore the vulnerability analysis. Current knowledge on the response of benthic communities to the impact of trawling is still rudimentary. The benthos data from the ecosystem survey in 2011 has been used to assess the vulnerability of benthic species to trawling, based on the risk of being caught or damaged by a bottom trawl (see WGIBAR report 2016).

A clear decline in biomass was noted for all three categories when comparing trawled vs. untrawled areas. This suggests that trawling significantly affects the biomass of all species, but predominantly the “high-risk” taxa. Some Barents Sea regions were particularly susceptible to trawling (see the 2016 WGIBAR Report).