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Research article2002Peer reviewedOpen access

Risk of collapse in the eastern Baltic cod fishery

Jonzén, Niclas; Cardinale, Massimiliano; Gårdmark, Anna; Arrhenius, Fredrik; Lundberg, Per


The eastern Baltic cod fishery, as many fisheries worldwide, is experiencing a major crisis. The combination of current environmental conditions, fishing mortality rates, and stock size indicates that this fishery is not sustainable. In order to rebuild the population and sustain the fishery in the future, it is essential to define a biologically appropriate exploitation level. In this paper, we take a decision-theoretical approach and use risk analysis to compare different management actions in terms of fishing mortality rates, and predict stock size in a short, medium and long-term perspective. We consider alternative hypotheses about the stock biomass in 1999 and analyse the risk of stock decline below three thresholds: quasi-extinction (B-ext, defined by us), the safe biological limit, and the precautionary. approach limit as defined by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). Results show that the current fishing mortality implies a tremendous risk of driving the Baltic cod stock below B-ext (1000 t) within 10 yr. This result is robust to alternative assumptions about model structure as well as to the magnitude of environmental stochasticity. Hence, we consider a substantial reduction of the fishing mortality to be the only way of avoiding the far-reaching ecological and socio-economic consequences of continued exploitation at current levels.


risk analysis; stochastic population dynamics; time series analysis; Gadus morhua; Baltic sea

Published in

Marine Ecology Progress Series
2002, Volume: 240, pages: 225-233

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Agricultural Science

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