HELCOM recently published a report assessing coastal fish in the Baltic, the Status of coastal fish communities in the Baltic Sea during 2011-2016 – the third thematic assessment. According to the report, only about half of the assessed areas obtain a good status.

In general, the overall status of varies between geographical areas, with the north of the Baltic faring slightly better than the south. Key species and piscivores show a better status in more northern areas of the Baltic, compared to the south of the sea. For cyprinids, the status is often insufficient due to overabundance, especially in the north-eastern part of the Baltic.  

"The report summarizes the current status of coastal fish communities in the Baltic Sea as derived from official monitoring programs of the HELCOM contracting parties," said Jens Olsson from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and who led the report. "It also contains short reviews on the factors regulating the communities and potential measures for the restoration and protection of coastal fish in the Baltic Sea."

To date, measures to restore and support coastal fish communities have barely been evaluated. As highlighted in the report, fishing regulations including permanent or temporary no-take areas, gear regulations, and habitat protection and restoration are measures that have shown to have a positive effects on fish populations.

Coastal fish communities are regulated by a plethora of both natural and human-induced factors such as fishing, habitat exploitation, climate, eutrophication and interactions between species in the ecosystem.

In being in the central part of the food-web, coastal fish are of key ecological and socio-economic importance, and their status often reflects the general health of coastal ecosystems.

Depending on the sub-basin, the assessed key species were mainly perch and, in some southern areas, also flounder. The monitored piscivorous fish were perch, pike, pike-perch, burbot, cod and turbot. In the cyprinid family, roach and breams dominated the catch assessed. In the few areas where cyprinids do not occur naturally, mesopredatory fish were assessed instead, such as wrasses, sticklebacks, flatfishes, clupeids and gobies.

"The information contained in this report is a valuable basis for following up on the objectives of the MSFD and BSAP, as well as for the development of national management plans for coastal fish," concluded Olsson. 

 

 

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For more information:

Jens Olsson
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU Aqua)
jens.olsson@slu.se