The Barents Sea contains considerable marine resources that forms a basis for considerable commercial activities. Further, there are areas of considerable ecological value that should be kept intact for future generations. Looking ahead, there are signs that there will probably take place increased commercial activities (for instance oil, gas industry and shipping) in the area . Further, the temperature prognoses indicate a increased temperatures and decreasing occurrence of sea ice in the area.
The main aim of the Barents Sea Ecosystem Program is, within an ecosystem context, to provide the managing authorities with scientific based advice in order to allow the authorities to make optimal management decisions regarding the long term utilization of the resources in the Barents Sea area. Advice is given to several management structures :
- Department of Fisheries and coastal affaires
- Integrated management plan for the Barents Sea (Norwegian government)
- Joint Norwegian Russian Environmental Commission
- Joint Norwegian Russian Fisheries Commission
- Arctic Council
The resources of the Barents Sea are shared by Norway and Russia. In order to obtain relevant data and to see the ecosystem as a unity, a cooperation between Norwegian and Russian scientists is necessary. The Barents Sea Ecosystem Programme gives high priority to this cooperation. This cooperation has existed for more than 50 years, and consists of joint surveys, annual scientific meeting, symposia, exchange of personnel and joint publications.
Tasks and sub-goals:
- Resources monitoring and management advice regarding fish stocks.
- Barents Sea management plan.
- Cooperation with Russia.
- Environmental monitoring and management advice, including environmental toxins and radioactivity.
- Contribute to the development of ecosystem-based management.
- Seabed and benthic habitat surveys.
- Dissemination and implementation of research results.