Fish, Fishing, and Pollutant Reduction in the Baltic Sea

  • Mackenzie B
  • Almesjö L
  • Hansson S
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Abstract

The Baltic Sea is heavily polluted yet supports major commercial fisheries for cod (Gadus morhua), herring (Clupea harengus), and sprat (Sprattus sprattus). Emissions of persistent organic pollutants, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and DDT, were high during the 1960s and 1970s, and concentrations in fish and other fauna are still significant. Several models of the fluxes of these pollutants among the water, sediment, and atmosphere have been developed, but these generally omit the roles of fish and fisheries. We show that the standing stock of the most abundant fish species in the Baltic Sea was a sink for 260 kg of PCBs in the late 1980s to early 1990s and that the fishery removed as much or more PCB (31 kg yr(-1))than other budget components (e.g., degradation in the water column). Accounting for fish and fisheries could increase our understanding of the fluxes of pollutants, and banning the discard of highly contaminated organs such as cod liver could be part of the pollution management.

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