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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Rapid effects of a fishing closure on whitefish (Coregonus maraena) in the northern Baltic Sea

Berkström, Charlotte; Florin, Ann-Britt; Fredriksson, Ronny; Lundström, Karl; Bergström, Ulf


Areas closed to fishing year-round (no-take zones, NTZs) or during spawning time (spawning closures) are used as a management tool to increase declining fish populations. We evaluated the effects of a 147 km2 NTZ and a 3980 km2 spawning closure on whitefish populations in the northern Baltic Sea, and also accounted for fish consumption by seals and cormorants. Fish monitoring with multimesh gillnets in 2011–2016 showed a significant increase in catch per unit effort (CPUE) of mature whitefish (> 30 cm) both in the spawning closure and the NTZ compared with the reference area open to fishing. The rate of increase was significantly higher in the NTZ than in the spawning closure. Our results suggest that NTZs may strengthen coastal fish populations in temperate regions and that also seasonal closures under a critical period of the life cycle may benefit the populations.

Published in

Boreal Environment Research
2021, Volume: 26, pages: 89-104