Aquaculture for all

Mercury Analysis: Fedje Seafood Tainted by Sub?

NORWAY - A new investigation has been carried out analysing mercury in seafood caught from the area around the submarine U864 outside Fedje, Norway.

Photo of Crab caught near U864 in 2008 (Photo: NIFES)

Results show somewhat higher levels of mercury in tusk compared to analyses previous years. The levels of mercury in crab, cod, and ling in the most recent analyses were similar to those found during the period from 2004 to 2007.

The German submarine U864 was torpedoed and sank west of Fedje in 1945. The submarine may have had a cargo of 60-70 tons of mercury when it sank. The wreck lies at a depth of 150 meters and there is a concern that mercury from the cargo, probably spread during the explosion, may contaminate fish in this area. The National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research (NIFES) has determined the mercury levels of several species of fish and crab at and around the wreck annually from 2004-2008 in order to assess seafood safety and to monitor year-to-year changes of mercury.

- The new data shows that the mercury levels of tusk captured near U864 in 2008 are somewhat higher than previous years, but we can’t find that the levels are directly linked to the wreck, says senior scientist Amund Måge at NIFES.

- It is difficult to determine whether the mercury levels in fish caught near the wreck is elevated compared to background levels for this area, since there are hardly any data of the background levels of mercury from this region. The variation of mercury in seafood from the area over time may be random and cannot be taken as a proof of increased mercury levels nearby, although this may be the reason.

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority has previously given dietary advice concerning seafood from the region, where pregnant and breastfeeding women are recommended to avoid eating seafood from the area around the submarine.

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