Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission


Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission


Project for Baltic-wide assessment of coastal fish communities in support of an ecosystem-based management (HELCOM FISH-PRO III) (2018-2023)

Catch from test fishing including common roach and European perch. Photo: David Andersson.

Coastal fish communities are important components of the Baltic Sea ecosystems, and many species of coastal fish are also of a high socio-economic value for coastal societies, small scale coastal fisheries and recreational fishing. The status of coastal fish communities serves as an indicator of coastal ecosystem health, reflecting pressures like eutrophication, hazardous substances, fishing and degradation of coastal habitats. The structure of coastal fish communities is also dependent on the impact of climate change, and species of coastal fish might also modify other ecosystem components through ecological interactions. Given the dramatic changes in Baltic Sea ecosystems and coastal fish communities during the last decades, attention and focus should be devoted to this component of the ecosystem.

In the Baltic Sea Action Plan, the HELCOM Contracting Parties have agreed that coastal fish constitute an imperative part of the Baltic Sea total biodiversity and have a structuring role in coastal food webs. Furthermore, coastal fisheries are of great importance to society from both a socio-economic and a cultural point of view. The Contracting Parties furthermore acknowledge that a substantial part of the coastal fish community of the Baltic Sea consists of freshwater species, only managed at a national level.

The FISH-PRO III project aims to support ecosystem-based management of coastal fish communities in the Baltic Sea coastal countries through further developing regionally harmonised monitoring and assessment methodologies, conducting assessments of coastal fish and by proposing ecosystem-based management measures.

Project objectives

The objectives of HELCOM FISH-PRO III are:

  • Knowledge: to update and improve knowledge about occurrence, distribution, population and threat and/or decline of coastal fish based on all relevant data.
  • Assessment and monitoring: to further develop different assessment and monitoring methodologies for coastal fish, including indicators with threshold and reference values.
  • Recommendations: 
    • proposing ecosystem-based measures on management of coastal fish communities in the Baltic Sea for the consideration of HELCOM Fish and State and Conservation groups, as appropriate.
    • to provide advice to national authorities and ongoing HELCOM work on implementation of coastal fish related actions in the BSAP.

Expected results

HELCOM acknowledges the EC competence on commercial fisheries. The project will provide added value in relation to activities carried out within the EU framework. The outcomes of the project are expected to not only benefit and contribute to the work within HELCOM, but also to various international frameworks and activities carried out at the national level.

The project is expected to deliver the following products/outcomes:

  • Further development of Core indicators
  • Development of additional indicators (e.g. size-related indicators)
  • Contribution to HELCOM Thematic assessments and Red list of species
  • Providing recommendations for EBM for coastal fish
  • Producing fourth thematic assessment on coastal fish
  • Considering alternative data sources for status assessments and monitoring
  • Expanding spatial coverage of monitoring
  • Updating coastal fish monitoring manual when needed
  • Providing expert proposals and management measures for coastal fish
  • Supporting the development of relevant research (especially the effects of essential habitats and external pressures for coastal fish CORE indicator responses)

For more information, please contact: 

Jens Olsson 
Project Manager

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Department of Aquatic Resources (SLU-Aqua)
Institute of Coastal Research
Tel: +46 104784144