Journal Article

An ecosystem model of food web and fisheries interactions in the Baltic Sea

Chris J Harvey, Sean P Cox, Timothy E Essington, Sture Hansson and James F Kitchell

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 60, issue 5, pages 939-950
Published in print January 2003 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2003 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI:
An ecosystem model of food web and fisheries interactions in the Baltic Sea

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Because fisheries operate within a complex array of species interactions, scientists increasingly recommend multispecies approaches to fisheries management. We created a food web model for the Baltic Sea proper, using the Ecopath with Ecosim software, to evaluate interactions between fisheries and the food web from 1974 to 2000. The model was based largely on values generated by multispecies virtual population analysis (MSVPA). Ecosim outputs closely reproduced MSVPA biomass estimates and catch data for sprat (Sprattus sprattus), herring (Clupea harengus), and cod (Gadus morhua), but only after making adjustments to cod recruitment, to vulnerability to predation of specific species, and to foraging times. Among the necessary adjustments were divergent trophic relationships between cod and clupeids: cod exhibited top-down control on sprat biomass, but had little influence on herring. Fishing, the chief source of mortality for cod and herring, and cod reproduction, as driven by oceanographic conditions as well as unexplained variability, were also key structuring forces. The model generated many hypotheses about relationships between key biota in the Baltic Sea food web and may ultimately provide a basis for estimating community responses to management actions.

Keywords: Baltic Sea; cod; Ecopath with Ecosim; fisheries; food web; herring; multispecies virtual population analysis; predator–prey interactions; sprat; top-down control

Journal Article.  7497 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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