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Dioxin concentration in Baltic herring decreases

08 Nov 2019, 02:13 ( 14 days ago) | updated: 08 Nov 2019, 10:12 ( 14 days ago)

DF Report
Source: Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

New measurements indicate that herring caught in the Baltic now contain smaller amounts of environmental toxins — dioxin and PCB compounds — than in the past, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

Concentrations have reduced by up to 80 per cent over the last 40 years, said a press release.

Dioxin and PCB emissions have been greatly cut down with international agreements and restrictions, which are now having a delayed impact on measurements.

It is important to monitor the situation also in the future, as Baltic herring is the most important fish species for Finland’s commercial fishing sector.

Though Baltic herring still contain small amounts of dioxins, they are nevertheless a healthy food source. Small and young herring contain smaller amounts of environmental toxins than larger and older herring. Today, larger herring fall below the maximum limit values for these toxins set by the EU for fish and fish products.

“It is safe to eat domestic fish when complying with the Finnish Food Authority’s recommendations. Fish contains beneficial fatty acids, numerous vitamins and minerals as well as a large amount of protein. Eating fish will prevent ailments such as cardiovascular disease,” said THL Research Professor Hannu Kiviranta.

The measurement results are part of the Kalakas and Tukala projects, which examined dioxin and PCB concentrations in the Bothnian Sea’s Baltic herring from 2016 to 2019.

“Currently, Baltic herring measuring less than 19 cm in length are below the EU’s maximum limit values and it seems likely that in a few years so will herring measuring less than 21 cm.  This is a significant change, as according to EU legislation, herring measuring more than 17 cm in length are currently unit for export due to dioxins. This is more than 30 per cent of the herring caught in the Bothnian Sea,” explained researcher Panu Rantakokko.

Participants in the Kalakas research project included the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), and Ab Salmonfarm Oy, a fishmeal company located on Kimito Island. The project was financed by the Finnish Operational Programme for the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).