As part of the follow-up of the government's management plan for the Barents Sea, NIFES has investigated the levels of a number of undesirable substances in cod, capelin and shrimp in these waters. Most of the results from the analyses showed values well below the EU's limits for seafood, with the exception of cod liver.
Low levels in fish fillets
In 2007, samples of cod, capelin and shrimp were taken from the Barents Sea. These were analysed for heavy metals, various pesticides, brominated flame retardants, PCBs, dioxins, and dioxin-like PCBs. The results from the analyses showed that most of the values were low, and below the EU's upper limits for seafood for substances that have EU upper limits, with the exception of cod liver.
The average concentrations of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs in cod liver is close to the new limit which the EU is in the process of introducing for fish liver of 25 ng TE/kg wet weight. The individual values were in the range of 1,8 -110 ng TE/kg. Out of 25 livers analysed, seven samples had levels of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs which exceeded 25 ng TE/kg wet weight. The average value was 22.8 ng TE/kg. The data has been published in the database seafood data.
Previously, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority has given dietary advice concerning the consumption of fish liver, which advises, among other things, that children, women of childbearing age, and pregnant women should not eat fish liver, and that other segments of the population should limit their intake of fish liver. There are traces of dioxins in the environment, and exposure to these chemicals can lead to changes in the immune system, reproductive organs and increase the risk of cancer.
Cod liver is also used to produce cod liver oil for human consumption. Environmental toxins are cleaned from the oil during production.
Barents Sea management plan
In 2006, the government laid out a comprehensive management plan for the marine environment of the Barents Sea and the sea areas off the Lofoten islands. As part of the follow-up of this a monitoring group was established in which NIFES plays a key role with respect to seafood safety. The monitoring group coordinates all monitoring activities in the Barents Sea. This includes the pollution situation, which in turn includes the field of seafood safety for which NIFES has a national responsibility.