Ecosystem overviews

Barents Sea ecoregion

Potential pressures arising from increased anthropogenic activity

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Barents Sea ecosystem has been strongly influenced by fishing and the hunting of marine mammals. More recently, human activities include transportation of goods, oil and gas, tourism, and aquaculture. In recent years interest has focused on the likely response of the Barents Sea ecosystem to future climate change and ocean acidification. Retreating ice edges are opening new grounds for trawling and for transport routes. Activities in some of these newly-opened grounds may affect benthic communities that were previously protected by ice cover.

There are plans to develop oil and gas production, aquaculture, and shipping in the Barents Sea. All of these can lead to increases in pressures, including substrate loss, nutrient and organic enrichment, and introduction of non-indigenous species.

Aquaculture is increasing along the coasts and in the fjords of northern Norway and Russia, with several commercial fish farms producing salmonids (salmon Salmo salar, trout Oncorhynchus mykiss) and shellfish. Red king crabs were released in the past to provide a resource for fishing, but these releases are now regarded as the introduction of an invasive species and the long-term effects on the ecosystem are unknown.

The environmental risks of known future developments have been evaluated several times and most pressures can be managed. ​
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Barents Sea ecoregion

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