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IMR and UN collaborate on Special Journal Issue dedicated to Climate Change and Seafood Safety

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Sampling of Greenland halibut.

Photo: Erlend A. Lorentzen / IMR

Seafood safety in a changing environment is the focus of the recent special issue of Environmental Pollution, a joint effort by IMR and UN-IAEA. Two out of eleven papers were written by IMR scientists.

Climate change is a global phenomenon with important consequences for environmental pollution, seafood safety and global food security. The changing climate will likely influence the distribution and abundance of seafood species as well as global ocean circulation patterns and biogeochemical cycles that govern environmental pollutant pathways.

“Although issues related to future seafood safety and security are relatively well documented, many aspects of this topic remain poorly understood, especially in the context of rapid climate and environmental change,” said Michael Bank, scientist at Norway’s Institute of Marine Research (IMR).

Special journal issue presents state of science

Recently researchers at IMR and the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (UN-IAEA) have collaborated on a Special Issue in the journal Environmental Pollution which covers a wide array of topics and connects seafood safety within the larger framework of environmental pollution, global environmental change, environmental toxicology, public health and within the context of the relevant UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“The papers published here represent the state of the science and we were pleased to get contributions from all over the world highlighting the global nature of this important food security issue,” Bank said.

A dedicated meeting on this topic was hosted in December 2020 by the IAEA Marine Environment Laboratories in Monaco and served as the creative springboard for this effort. Several contaminants including mercury, arsenic, essential trace metals, rare earth elements, pesticide residues, chemical additives associated with plastics and other consumer products were investigated. The selected seafood studies were also conducted in geographic regions that are often understudied and on species occurring at different trophic levels providing a useful basis to define and direct management action about the usage and occurrence of these contaminants.

Several IMR contributions

Collectively the Special Issue highlights the need for growth in seafood surveillance, production technologies, rigorous and reproducible science, and the importance of scale on investigating trends in seafood safety.

In addition to the newly written preface by Bank and his co-editors, the special issue included two previously published studies done by IMR scientists. These studies cover the temporal decline of mercury in Greenland Halibut and the mercury bioaccumulation pathways in tusk, respectively.


Bank, M.S., P.W. Swarzenski, and I. Tolosa. 2022. Seafood safety and environmental pollution in a changing environment. Environmental Pollution 306, 119475.

Bank, M.S., S. Frantzen, A. Duinker, D. Amouroux, E. Tessier, K. Needras, A. Maage, and B. Nilsen. 2021. Rapid temporal decline of mercury in Greenland Halibut. Environmental Pollution 289, 117843. 

Azad, A.M., S. Frantzen, M.S. Bank, L. Madsen, and A. Maage. 2021. Mercury bioaccumulation pathways in tusk: insights from C and N isotopes. Environmental Pollution 269, 115997.