August 28, 2018

Stickleback harvesting and pike factories

Stickleback harvesting

Harvesting of over dense populations stickleback

During the project,  a concept of Water Improvement Fund will be developed in Åland. One of the pilot activities for testing the concept is harvesting of over dense populations stickleback, which removes nutrients from marine environment but also acts as positive biomanipulation. According to scientific studies, there is a correlation between the population of predatory fish, zooplankton and water quality. It is possible that harvesting the dense population of species that feeds with zooplankton and eggs of predatory fish, together with other activities supporting the predatory fish stocks, could  result in improvement in the marine environment. At the same time, phosphorus is taken up from the sea with the fish catch: The phosphor content in the fish is approximately 0,08%, so the total amount of removed nutrient is dependent on the catch. Fish species like the stickleback have high content of fatty acids and omega-3, which could be refined for further use into high value products. Thus, the pilot will also look into the potential for commercial utilization of these fish.

“Pike factories” and artificial reefs

In addition to stickleback harvesting, complementary measures to increase predatory fish stocks are implemented to support ecosystem recovery of selected coastal bays. The construction of artificial reef structures and small scale wetlands, “pike factories” aim to improve the condition of coastal ecosystem in pilot bays to be more suitable for spawning and “nursery” of young generations of pike and other predatory fish which spawn in shallow sea bays. The aim of these measures is to support the positive biomanipulation activity of removing stickleback, which eat the eggs and youngsters of the predatory fish. In environmental studies, strong populations of predatory fish are shown to correlate with the better environmental status of waters. In addition, the underwater vegetation in coastal bays also binds nutrient flows coming from land, thus preventing the eutrophying nutrients entering the open sea.

During the development of the concept of Water Improvement Fund, it will be tested whether stickleback fishing and the “pike factories” could be included in the concept and, further, potentially used as compensatory measure in improving the state of coastal marine habitats in the future.

More information

Pilot activities in Åland

Stickleback harvesting

Annica Brink, Project Coordinator
Department of Social Affairs, Health and Environment
The Government of Åland
Tel. +358 (0)18 25542
e-mail: firstname.lastname@regeringen.ax

Rosita Broström
Ålands fiskodlarförening r.f.
firstname.lastname@fiskodlarna.ax

Pilot activities in Sweden
“Pike factories”

Sabina Hoppe
The County Administrative Board of Östergötland
The Environmental department, The Department of Nature protection
firstname.lastname@lansstyrelsen.se

Water improvement fund

Annica Brink, Project Coordinator
Department of Social Affairs, Health and Environment
The Government of Åland
Tel. +358 (0)18 25542
e-mail: firstname.lastname@regeringen.ax