Whose Fish? Managing Salmonidae and Humans in Complex Social-Ecological Systems: Examples from the Baltic Sea Region
Abstract.—Management of salmonids at local and regional levels in the Baltic Sea is best analyzed by viewing the Baltic region as a complex social–ecological system. The ecosystem approach, now in an implementation phase in the Baltic Sea region, provides a framework for understanding interdependencies between resources, ecosystems and society, and examining management trade-offs. This study focuses on application of the ecosystem approach to management of two salmonids: the Atlantic salmon Salmo salar fishery in the Baltic Sea region and the brown trout S. trutta recreational fishery in Stockholm archipelago, Sweden. These cases provide illustrative examples of some current trends and key challenges for sustainable salmonidae management. The Baltic Sea has low biodiversity and Atlantic salmon is one of the few commercially or recreationally important fish species. In this region, fish resources and the ecosystems they depend on are shared by nine coastal nations. The different salmon populations spawn in their native rivers but mix in offshore areas where they are harvested by national fishing fleets. In the Baltic, a number of factors have impacted wild salmon populations. Hydropower development in the Baltic coastal states has led to declines in wild salmon populations and, to compensate, annual stocked fish releases. In attractive coastal areas such as the Stockholm archipelago in Sweden, increased recreational fishing has led to a shift in user patterns from small-scale commercial fisheries by islanders towards a heterogeneous group of visiting recreational fishers. Efforts to reorganize fisheries management institutions in the Baltic Sea region indicate the need to consider the full range of user groups, develop coherent multilevel management institutions, and achieve a better understanding of the role of diverse fish populations in the ecosystem.