Skip to main content
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

A synthesis of a coastal northern pike (Esox lucius) fishery and its social-ecological environment in the southern Baltic Sea: Implications for the management of mixed commercial-recreational fisheries

Arlinghaus, Robert; Rittweg, Timo; Dhellemmes, Felicie; Koemle, Dieter; van Gemert, Rob; Schubert, Hendrik; Niessner, Dominique; Moeller, Soren; Droll, Jan; Friedland, Rene; Lewin, Wolf-Christian; Dorow, Malte; Westphal, Linda; Ehrlich, Elias; Strehlow, Harry V.; Weltersbach, Marc Simon; Roser, Phillip; Braun, Marlon; Feldhege, Fritz; Winkler, Helmut


We synthesize a large body of literature involving peer-reviewed work, grey literature and novel data analyses about the small-scale northern pike (Esox lucius) fishery in lagoon ecosystems in the southern Baltic Sea. Based on our comprehensive review that synthesizes ecological as well as social, economic and governance-related literature we derive implications for the management of mixed commercial-recreational fisheries in coastal areas. The interconnected shallow and biologically highly productive meso-to polytrophic lagoons (extension about 2000 km2) bordered by the peninsula of Fischland-Darss and the islands of Hiddensee, Rugen and Usedom in the southern Baltic Sea of Germany constitute an oligo-to mesohaline transitional habitat suitable for colonization by a range of freshwater fishes, including pike. In the Rugen area, pike successfully recruits in the mesohaline lagoons, but anadromous subpopulations and freshwater residents also exist in tributaries, forming a connected meta-population. The stock is co-exploited by a small-scale commercial fishery and a largely tourism-dominated recreational fishing sector that, depending on the angler type, values the pike for both consumption as well as for its trophy size. The recreational sector has risen in economic and social relevance since the German reunification in 1990 and today removes similar amounts of biomass than commercial fisheries. Pike is a prime target species of anglers, and recreational pike angling in the lagoons today generates a larger economic impact in terms of jobs created compared to the commercial pike fishing, where pike is typically one target among many freshwater fish. Stock assessments and stakeholder reports have revealed that the stock size and size of pike in the catch have been falling since 2010, fueling conflicts among fishers and anglers for space and fish. Reasons for the current decline of the pike stock involve multiple pressures operating jointly and possibly synergistically, such as local overharvest, loss of stock structure through past blocking of freshwater streams, eutrophication and macrophyte loss, predation mortality by natural predators, reduced availability of marine prey through declines of western Baltic spring-spawning herring (Clupea harengus), and poorly understood impacts of climate change. The


Baltic pike; Recruitment; Overfishing; Seals; Vegetation; Salinity; Recreational fisheries; Human dimensions

Published in

Fisheries Research
2023, Volume: 263, article number: 106663
Publisher: ELSEVIER

    SLU Authors

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG14 Life below water

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Fish and Aquacultural Science

    Publication Identifiers


    Permanent link to this page (URI)