Whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus (L.)) landings in the Baltic Sea during the past 100 years: combining official datasets and grey literature
Verliin, Aare; Saks, Lauri; Svirgsden, Roland; Vetemaa, Markus; Rohtla, Mehis; Taal, Imre; Saat, Toomas
European whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus (L.)) has been one of the commercially most important Baltic Sea freshwater fish species, especially in northern regions. More or less systematic recording of whitefish landings in the Baltic Sea started nearly a century ago. Although understanding the development of local fisheries is crucial for the sustainable management of fish populations, to date there are no combined data (including both commercial and recreational fisheries) available which summarise past whitefish landings in the Baltic Sea area. In this study we summarised available data on whitefish landings using official datasets and also the so-called grey literature, i. e. different reports and journals of fishing societies. This revealed that increasing fishing effort and modernisation of fishing gear in all Baltic Sea regions resulted in increased landings during the first half of the twentieth century, but an overall decline in whitefish catches has been evident from the mid-1950s and was probably caused by overfishing, eutrophication and restricted access to spawning grounds.