Climate Change and the Impact on Fish Stocks in the Western Baltic Sea


From May 28th to 31st, a new expert group chaired by the universities of Hamburg and Kiel, as well as the Danish Institute for Aquatic Resources (DTU Aqua), will begin its work for the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). This group will comprehensively address issues related to the fish stocks of the western Baltic Sea. The intergovernmental organization ICES, headquartered in Copenhagen, collaborates with its 20 member states on all questions of marine research, with a focus on fisheries. It monitors the stock development of more than 100 fish species using scientific methods and provides recommendations for sustainable management.

Supporting stock assessments and ecosystem-based recommendations

The goal of the newly established Working Group on Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management of the Western Baltic Sea (WGECOBAL) is to more closely examine the impacts of climate change and other environmental changes on the living marine resources of the western Baltic Sea. The results are intended to support long-term stock assessments and ecosystem-based recommendations, particularly for commercially exploited fish stocks in the western Baltic Sea. Suitable measures for ecosystem-based fisheries management of the western Baltic Sea will be identified and translated into recommendations. The working group includes members from various German and international research institutions and universities around the Baltic Sea.

The working group brings together the expertise of more than 30 researchers

The chairmanship is held by Professor Dr. Christian Möllmann of the University of Hamburg, Director of the Institute for Marine Ecosystem and Fisheries Science; Dr. Stefan Neuenfeldt of the National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Denmark - DTU Aqua; and Dr. Heike Schwermer from the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel (CAU), Center for Ocean and Society/Kiel Marine Science. “With WGECOBAL, we aim to provide a forum where we can compile and consolidate the extensive expertise of researchers on the ecosystem of the western Baltic Sea and improve the management of fish stocks, taking into account the current changes due to the effects of climate change,” explains Professor Dr. Christian Möllmann from the Institute for Marine Ecosystem and Fisheries Science at the University of Hamburg. This will also incorporate results from recommendations made by the Guiding Principles Commission for the Future of German Baltic Fisheries of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), chaired by resource economist Professor Marie-Catherine Riekhof from the University of Kiel. “Our goal is to outline sustainable future perspectives that also integrate the expert knowledge of the fisheries,” adds Dr. Heike Schwermer from the Center for Ocean and Society, who also worked on the Guiding Principles Commission.

The four-day inaugural event in Copenhagen will initially focus on presenting current studies on the effects of climate change and other factors on fish stocks and ecosystems of the western Baltic Sea, as well as the adaptation and resilience of the socio-ecological system (SES) to these changes. Additionally, available models and modeling studies, including stock assessments, will be discussed.


Dr. Heike Schwermer
Center for Ocean and Society
Neufeldtstraße 10
24118 Kiel