Essential coastal habitats for fish in the Baltic Sea

A1 Journal article (refereed)

Internal Authors/Editors

Publication Details

List of Authors: Patrik Kraufvelin, Zeynep Pekcan-Hekim, Ulf Bergström, Ann-Britt Florin, Annukka Lehikoinen, Johanna Mattila, Timo Arula, Laura Briekmane, Elliot John Brown, Zuzanna Celmer, Justas Dainys, Henri Jokinen, Petra Kääriä, Meri Kallasvuo, Antti Lappalainen, Linas Lozys, Peter Möller, Alessandro Orio, Mehis Rohtla, Lauri Saks, Martin Snickars, Josianne Støttrup, Göran Sundblad, Imre Taal, Didzis Ustups, Aare Verliin, Markus Vetemaa, Helmut Winkler, Adam Wozniczka, Jens Olsson
Publication year: 2018
Journal: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Volume number: 204
Issue number: 1
Start page: 14
End page: 30


Many coastal and offshore fish species are highly dependent on specific habitat types for population
maintenance. In the Baltic Sea, shallow productive habitats in the coastal zone such as wetlands,
vegetated flads/lagoons and sheltered bays as well as more exposed rocky and sandy areas are utilized by
fish across many life history stages including spawning, juvenile development, feeding and migration.
Although there is general consensus about the critical importance of these essential fish habitats (EFH)
for fish production along the coast, direct quantitative evidence for their specific roles in population
growth and maintenance is still scarce. Nevertheless, for some coastal species, indirect evidence exists,
and in many cases, sufficient data are also available to carry out further quantitative analyses. As coastal
EFH in the Baltic Sea are often found in areas that are highly utilized and valued by humans, they are
subjected to many different pressures. While cumulative pressures, such as eutrophication, coastal
construction and development, climate change, invasive species and fisheries, impact fish in coastal
areas, the conservation coverage for EFH in these areas remains poor. This is mainly due to the fact that
historically, fisheries management and nature conservation are not integrated neither in research nor in
management in Baltic Sea countries. Setting joint objectives for fisheries management and nature conservation would hence be pivotal for improved protection of EFH in the Baltic Sea. To properly inform
management, improvements in the development of monitoring strategies and mapping methodology for
EFH are also needed. Stronger international cooperation between Baltic Sea states will facilitate
improved management outcomes across ecologically arbitrary boundaries. This is especially important
for successful implementation of international agreements and legislative directives such as the Baltic
Sea Action Plan, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the Habitats Directive, and the Maritime
Spatial Planning Directive, but also for improving the communication of information related to coastal EFH among researchers, stakeholders, managers and decision makers. In this paper, efforts are made to
characterize coastal EFH in the Baltic Sea, their importance and the threats/pressures they face, as well as
their current conservation status, while highlighting knowledge gaps and outlining perspectives for
future work in an ecosystem-based management framework.

Last updated on 2020-25-09 at 05:54