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Contaminants are another source of pressure on the Arctic marine environment. The annual spring influx of meltwater carries contaminants which accumulate in the estuaries and deltas and also enter the mixed layer where they are transported to the North American coast. Airborne contaminants from industrial and agricultural activities at lower latitudes are also deposited in the ocean where they can accumulate in sea ice. These contaminants are bioaccumulated in sea mammals and in turn are taken up by Arctic peoples (AMAP 1997, Crane and Galasso 1999).

Stocks of Arctic fisheries (thousands of adults)

Stocks of commercially important species such as the cod, Atlantic salmon and herring have declined in many of the Arctic fisheries; despite strict conservation measures, recovery has been slow and uncertain

Source: CAFF 2001

Radioactive contamination is a further threat, sources including former nuclear weapons testing, the Chernobyl accident, and ocean dumping of radioactive solid wastes which was common until the London Dumping Convention came into effect.