Fish and oil in the Lofoten–Barents Sea system: synoptic review of the effect of oil spills on fish populations
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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The Lofoten-Barents Sea area, which contains some of the most valuable fish stocks of the Atlantic Ocean, is being considered for offshore oil production. We review the effects of a hypothetical oil spill on fishes in this area, with a focus on effects on the egg and larval stage of the 3 dominating fish stocks: NE Arctic cod Gadus morhua, Barents Sea capelin Mallotus villosus, and Norwegian spring-spawning herring Clupea harengus. In particular, we emphasise that the long-term population impact of an oil spill depends on ecological and oceanographic factors, some of which have been poorly explored. Among these are (1) effects of the physical state of the ocean, especially mesoscale circulation features, on the advection of oil and fish larvae, (2) effects of the spatial distribution of spawners, (3) effects of harvesting on stock structure and length of the spawning season, (4) effects of natural mortality and species interactions subsequent to an oil spill, and (5) chronic sublethal effects from persistent oil residues.