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Review article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

The ecology and fishery of the vendace (Coregonus albula) in the Baltic Sea

Lehtonen, Topi K.; Gilljam, David; Veneranta, Lari; Keskinen, Tapio; Bergenius Nord, Mikaela


Brackish water ecosystems often have high primary production, intermediate salinities, and fluctuating physical conditions and therefore provide challenging environments for many of their inhabitants. This is especially true of the Baltic Sea, which is a large body of brackish water under strong anthropogenic influence. One freshwater species that is able to cope under these conditions in the northern Baltic Sea is the vendace (Coregonus albula), a small salmonid fish. Here, we review the current knowledge of its ecology and fishery in this brackish water environment. The literature shows that, by competing for resources with other planktivores and being an important prey for a range of larger species, C. albula plays a notable role in the northern Baltic Sea ecosystem. It also sustains significant fisheries in the coastal waters of Sweden and Finland. We identify the need to better understand these C. albula populations in terms of the predator-prey interactions, distributions of anadromous and sea spawning populations and other putative (eco)morphs, extent of gene exchange between the populations, and effects of climate change on their future. In this regard, we recommend strengthening C. albula-related research and management efforts by improved collaboration and coordination between research institutions, other governmental agencies, and fishers, as well as by harmonization of fishery policies across national borders.


environmental change; fishing; phenotypic plasticity; population; salinity; Salmonidae

Published in

Journal of Fish Biology
2023, Volume: 103, number: 6, pages: 1463-1475