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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2018

Competition for the fish - fish extraction from the Baltic Sea by humans, aquatic mammals, and birds

Hansson, Sture; Bergstrom, Ulf; Bonsdorff, Erik; Harkonen, Tero; Jepsen, Niels; Kautsky, Lena; Lundstrom, Karl; Lunneryd, Sven-Gunnar; Ovegard, Maria; Salmi, Juhani; Sendek, Dmitry; Vetemaa, Markus


Seals and fish-eating birds have increased in the Baltic Sea and there is concern that they compete with fisheries. Using data from around year 2010, we compare consumption of different fish species by seals and birds to the catch in the commercial and recreational fishery. When applicable this is done at the geographical resolution of ICES subdivisions. Predation by birds and mammals likely has limited impact on the populations of the commercially most important species (herring, sprat, and cod). In the central and southern Baltic, seals and birds consume about as much flatfish as is caught by the fishery and competition is possible. Birds and seals consume 2-3 times as much coastal fish as is caught in the fishery. Many of these species are important to the fishery (e. g. perch and whitefish) and competition between wildlife and the fishery is likely, at least locally. Estimated wildlife consumption of pike, sea trout and pikeperch varies among ICES subdivisions and the degree of competition for these species may differ among areas. Competition between wildlife and fisheries need to be addressed in basic ecosystem research, management and conservation. This requires improved quantitative data on wildlife diets, abundances and fish production.


Baltic Sea; bird; catch; competition; fisheries; food consumption; seal

Published in

ICES Journal of Marine Science
2018, Volume: 75, number: 3, pages: 999-1008