Data and updating

Access and use

The data and resulting data products (tables, figures and maps) available on the indicator web pages can be used freely given that the source is cited. The indicator should be cited as following: 

HELCOM (2018) Abundance of key coastal fish species. HELCOM core indicator report. Online. [Date Viewed], [Web link].

ISSN 2343-2543



Result: Abundance of key coastal fish species

Data polygon: Abundance of key coastal fish species data poly

Data point: Abundance of key coastal fish species data point

Data are typically collected annually in August by national and regional monitoring programmes. Catch per unit effort from commercial catch statistics in Finland represent total annual catches. See HELCOM (2015a) for details. For future updates of this evaluation, data should be collected in each location on an annual basis. 

A few time series of coastal fish began in the 1970s (Olsson et al. 2012), whereas others were started in the 1980s (HELCOM 2015a). The majority of the available time series of coastal fish community structure was initiated in the mid-1990s. In Finland and Sweden a new coastal fish monitoring programme with a higher spatial resolution was established in the early 2000s. For more information, see HELCOM 2012.

Data from 1998 and onwards have been included in the current assessment to cater for shifting baselines, while including as much data as possible.

The raw data on which this assessment is based, are stored in national databases. Each country has its own routines for quality assurance of the stored data. From 2017, each country calculates indicator values for their monitoring locations from the raw data from fish monitoring. The indicator data and values are then during the first half of the year uploaded to the HELCOM database for coastal fish core indicators, COOL ( as hosted by the HELCOM secretariat. Indicator data for status assessments are extracted from the COOL database, and the assessment undertaken by the lead country (Sweden) according to the assessment protocol outlined in this report.


Data source

Coastal fish monitoring is coordinated within the HELCOM FISH PRO II expert network. The network compiles data from fisheries independent monitoring in Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Denmark and Sweden. Coastal fish communities in the Baltic Sea areas of Russia are to some extent monitored as well. In Poland, a fishery independent coastal fish monitoring programme was established in 2014, while earlier investigations have also been performed. Data series cover period 2011-2016 for different coastal areas, therefore there is no continuous 5-year data series for coastal areas as required by method and they are not included in the assessment. In Germany, data are derived from coastal fish monitoring within national projects such as the artificial reef programme outside Rostock/Warnemünde off the summer resort Nienhagen (since 2002), the eel monitoring programme along the coastline of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (since 2008), and the coastal trawl survey in the Pomeranian Bay by the University of Rostock (since 2003). None of these three projects has long-term secured funding, and due to lack of national support and approval, data from German coastal waters are not included in the current assessment. In Denmark, there is no coastal fish monitoring programme and the data provided relies on voluntary catch registration by recreational fishermen through the "key-fishermen" project, which has no long-term secured funding (initiated in 2005). Due to lack of geographical coverage, the state of coastal fish communities in Finland is monitored using estimates of catch per unit effort (CPUE) from the small-scaled coastal commercial fishery. There are some additional monitoring locations (see HELCOM 2015a), which were not included in this assessment due to lack of funding in some countries for carrying out status assessments.

The institutes responsible for sampling are: Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) (Finland), Provincial Government of Åland Islands (Finland), Estonian Marine Institute (Estonia), University of Tartu (Estonia), Institute of Food Safety, Animal Health and Environment "BIOR" (Latvia), Nature Research Center (Lithuania), National Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Gdynia (Poland), Association Fish and Environment Mecklenburg-Vorpommern e.V. (Germany), University of Rostock (Germany), National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Technical University of Denmark (Denmark), Department of Aquatic Resources, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Sweden).