Journal Article

Development of wild Atlantic salmon stocks in the rivers of the northern Baltic Sea in response to management measures

A Romakkaniemi, I Perä, L Karlsson, E Jutila, U Carlsson and T Pakarinen

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 60, issue 2, pages 329-342
Published in print January 2003 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2003 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI:
Development of wild Atlantic salmon stocks in the rivers of the northern Baltic Sea in response to management measures

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Since 1980, the abundance of wild Atlantic salmon has been monitored by means of catch records, adult counts, electrofishing and smolt trapping in six rivers flowing into the northern Baltic Sea. River abundance (spawners, parr and smolts) was compared with implemented large-scale and river-specific management measures and with natural factors potentially affecting abundance. Since the 1980s, the wild stocks have recovered in a synchronous cyclical pattern. The recovery occurred mainly in two jumps, first a sudden increase dating back to around 1990 and a second sharp rise in the late 1990s. River abundance of young salmon commonly rose about 10-fold and approached the previously estimated production capacity in some of the rivers. This positive development may be explained by a decline in fishing pressure together with covarying natural factors influencing survival and growth. The offshore fishery started to decline at the time of the first increase, while the reduction in the total allowable catches together with seasonal restrictions on the coastal fishery strengthened the second increase. Improved natural conditions seem to have increased both survival and escapement during the first rise. Spawners producing the second rise were the offspring of the spawners of the first rise. The outbreak of the M74 mortality syndrome among alevins reduced the abundance of several year-classes that hatched during the first half of the 1990s. In most rivers, the fraction of older and female fish in the spawning run has increased over the period, thereby increasing the reproductive capacity of the populations. No distinct effects of variations in river-specific management regimes were observed. Instead, the results emphasize the role of fisheries management in the open sea as well as in coastal waters, and also of non-human factors in controlling overall abundance of wild salmon in northern Baltic rivers.

Keywords: Baltic Sea; fishery management; river monitoring; Salmo salar; enhancement; M74 syndrome; stock recovery

Journal Article.  8772 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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