Funding worth one million for assessing the fish stock risks in the Baltic Sea and the Atlantic

The FEM research team of the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences coordinate a project which has received funding worth EUR one million from the EU, and which coordinates the risk of losing the natural salmon stocks in the Baltic Sea, for example.

Baltic Herring

The ECOKNOWS project is participated in by 13 research teams from Europe, Canada, and the Philippines. The budget appropriation received by the University of Helsinki is slightly over EUR one million.

According to the project coordinator, Professor Sakari Kuikka, the risk calculation process is a scientifically-grounded assessment of uncertainty. The researchers calculate risks targeting fish stocks, and the combined effects of the risks.

- The methods of calculation should effectively utilise existing databases and published sources of information. The researchers’ duty is to also calculate risk limits for those fish species, the monitoring of which is too expensive for the society.

Risk limits and adjustment alternatives

The researchers assess the risk of losing the natural salmon stocks of the Baltic Sea, for example, and consider the effectiveness of different adjustment alternatives. The methods of calculation are also used for assessing what new information should be obtained in order to achieve more accurate calculations.

Baltic Sea research deals with Baltic herring and salmon, and on the coast, with zander, common whitefish, northern pike, and burbot. Atlantic research focuses on anchovy, hake, and herring. The project helps fishermen and other information users to understand probability-based fish stock estimates.

The research is also contributed to by the teams of Academy Professor Juha Merilä and Professor Jukka Corander from the University of Helsinki. Merilä’s team investigates models concerning the impact of fishing on the hereditary characteristics of catch species. Corander’s team develops more effective methods of calculation.

A learning databank

The project produces tools to enable a situation where, among others things, anyone researching the reproductive efficiency of a certain species would be able to save their material as part of the databases. The databank would combine the material with the information content of previous material sets.

A system that gradually learns in this way, is particularly valuable for countries with extensive biodiversity, but no financial resources to carry out comprehensive monitoring.

- Science must support decision-making as effectively as possible, and there is not always time to wait for additional material. Waiting may turn out to be costly for species and society, says Kuikka.

Fisheries and Environmental Management Group (FEM) » »

Text: Kirsikka Mattila ja Sakari Kuikka
Photo: Zemlinki! on Flickr
Translation: AAC Global

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