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Forskningsartikel - Refereegranskat, 2023

Reassessing the management criteria of growing seal populations: The case of Baltic grey seal and coastal fishery

Suuronen, Petri; Lunneryd, Sven-Gunnar; Konigson, Sara; Coelho, Nelson F.; Waldo, Asa; Eriksson, Viktor; Svels, Kristina; Lehtonen, Esa; Psuty, Iwona; Vetemaa, Markus


The unintended consequences of marine mammal recoveries have created complex issues for resource managers to solve. In the Baltic Sea, the grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) population has increased rapidly during recent decades, and the conflict between seal conservation and fishery has escalated. Although the magnitude of economic losses varies depending on the type of fisheries, there is strong evidence that the grey seal population negatively impacts coastal fisheries and indirectly threatens the cultural heritage connected to it. The current management paradigm is biased towards the preservation of seal populations and it is failing to adequately consider socio-economic impacts of seal population. There is a need to strike a balance between seal conservation and the viability of coastal fisheries, taking into consideration local circumstances. This paper contributes to resolving this problem by assessing the existing governance arrangement. We conclude that the inconsistencies between and within different regulatory frameworks in HELCOM recommendations and European Union law are a structural constraint to tackling the problem. Further to that, some of the existing management criteria applicable to Baltic grey seal population need to be revisited by giving more consideration to regional conditions within the Baltic Sea. For instance, if the data shows that the Baltic grey seal population in its core distribution area has reached a sustainable status and is no longer at risk, then the use of peripheral areas as an indication of inadequate state of the entire Baltic Sea grey seal population is questionable.


Seal -fishery conflict; Optimal population size; Management institutions; Socio-economic; Baltic Sea

Publicerad i

Marine Policy
2023, Volym: 155, artikelnummer: 105684