Ecosystem-based fisheries management restores western Baltic fish stocks

Source: WWF Baltic

Marine scientists from GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (Germany), the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (Bundesamt für Naturschutz, BfN, Germany) and the Institute of Biosciences and Bioresources at the National Research Council (CNR) of Italy teamed up to test and predict how different marine life in the western Baltic sea would react to five fisheries scenarios –from no fishing to ecosystem-based fisheries management, using model simulations. Now published in Frontiers in Marine Science, the study “Ecosystem-based fisheries management increases catch and carbon sequestration through recovery of exploited stocks: The western Baltic Sea case study” concludes that EBFM would restore stocks of commercially relevant fish species i.e., cod (Gadus morhua), herring (Clupea harengus) and sprat (Sprattus sprattus), improve the population of endangered Harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), and increase food web resilience to ocean warming. Long-term overfishing combined with nutrient pollution, hypoxia, ocean warming and acidification have put stocks of these species at risk of collapse.

“Past and present overfishing – not climate change – was the main cause of the recent collapse of herring, cod, and profitable western Baltic fisheries in general. Continued business-as-usual would in addition push the highly endangered harbour porpoise to the brink of extinction. In contrast, ecosystem-based management would rebuild healthy stocks and fisheries and even help us to fight climate change. Saving the western Baltic requires to stop fishing of cod and herring for a few years, until these stocks have recovered. During this time, fishers need to be compensated for their losses. Fishing for plaice and other flatfish can meanwhile continue.”

–Dr. Rainer Froese, fisheries biologist at GEOMAR, co-creator of FishBase and co-author of the study

Read more about this breakthrough from GEOMAR news



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