The environmental effects of petroleum activities and, in particular, the consequences of larger oil spills for fish stocks and fisheries, have been central issues in Norway since the 1970s. One of the fundamental and enduring challenges for ecosystem management is to understand how exposure to petroleum related compounds affects different life stages of fish and the consequences for individual survival and fitness. Decades of research have identified early life stages (ELS) as the most sensitive phase of life in fish. However, the transfer of contaminants from parental exposure to ova and the impact on gamete quality and embryo development constitutes a major knowledge gap. This project aims at quantifying the effect of parental exposure to petroleum compounds on the fertilization success and embryo development of the generation F1 and experimentally discriminating between ova and sperm induced effects. A characterization of the accumulation of petroleum related compounds in eggs will be conducted as well as sperm motility analyses. Fertilization success, biotransformation capacity and apical endpoints including behavioral analyses will be determined in embryos and larvae until the onset of exogenous feeding in larvae. This work addresses critical and highly ecologically relevant research questions and uses advanced analytical methodologies to characterize the bioaccumulated fraction, beyond the standard polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. This study has a high and immediate relevance for ongoing debates on the drilling for oil in the Lofoten-Vesterålen area. It will also provide important additional knowledge for the improvement of current modelling efforts to determine the effects at the population level.
Project manager: Jasmine Nahrgang
Project code: 462019