Workshop for the future of the Baltic Sea whitefish stocks – Heading for sustainable resources and natural reproduction







We propose to organize an international 2-3 day long workshop on whitefish in late 2016. The workshop will be a continuum to previous successful whitefish workshop held in 2013 in Helsinki.

- Strengthen the network of whitefish research and management
- New approaches on restoration of reproduction habitats, both in rivers and coastal area to enhance diversity of stocks
- Transatlantic contacts and experiences
- Possibility to conduct Nordic/Baltic joint project for sustainable coastal fisheries

The intention of the workshop is to update the status of whitefish and other Coregonids with similar life history and reflect the results on goals set in previous whitefish workshop. The outcome of the workshop will be beneficial for the coastal whitefish fishery in the Baltic Sea coasts We will aim to:

-create a structure for a tentative research project proposal on whitefish on countries surrounding the Baltic Sea.
-Increase knowledge to develop tools for the enhancement of natural reproduction in rivers and coastal areas

Whitefish has always had a high status among fishermen in the northern Baltic Sea area.For example, according to official statistics it was economically second in importance in Finnish professional fishing in the sea in 2014 and it is highly valued also in Sweden and in other Baltic Sea countries. The previous AG-fisk funded symposium appeared to be successful and has led to collaboration between participating countries, both in terms of regional funding applications and knowledge enhancement. The new workshop will be based on the previous working group reports and suggestions.

The workshop is topical, as the whitefish has been classified as an endangered species in the evaluation of threatened Baltic species. The debate concerning whitefish in Finland has settled down a little after the establishment of whitefish working group and increased whitefish research. However, WWF has suggested restrictions for consumers in using whitefish because the stocks are endangered whereas fishermen appeal to the fact that whitefish stocking are profitable and high proportion of the caught whitefish is of stocked origin. Both parties are right in their opinion but the mixed stock fishery does not enable the separation of stocks and ecotypes in the sea. However, the new research, both in Finland and Sweden has increased the knowledge on whitefish and also raised a need for wider, cross-border research in the Baltic Sea with collaboration over to the North Sea coregonid habitat restorations.

The participants will be relevant national authorities and representatives from national fisheries research institutes. One to three qualified researchers from North America and Continental Europe will be invited to attend the meeting as keynote speakers, with experiences on comparable case studies. One of them is invited to work as a moderator for the workshop. Transoceanic collaboration is important, since the species group and problems are identical in North America and cooperation may lead to new visions, methods and solutions. The number of participants will be approximately 15-20 from countries surrounding the Baltic Sea and the travel costs will be covered on project funding. The workshop will be organized by Natural Resources Institute Finland in Helsinki, Finland and representatives from the Baltic countries, Sweden and Denmark are invited.

The members of previous working group will be contacted beforehand and the heads of the workgroups in previous workshops will be requested to collect deliver data on current whitefish situation to the moderator and to brief the keynote speakers. This information will be used to create an synthesis on whitefish research and development in the Baltic Sea area and it will also work as an initiative for this workshop.

The workshop will include introductory presentations and group work on relevant themes. In addition to initiatives, structure and topics of the workshop will be:

I ) Outline of current state of whitefish in the Nordic and Baltic coastal areas-. The achievements and themes have evolved since the previous meeting in 2013. Group work for the possible actions to enhance whitefish populations.

II) Restoration of reproduction areas, both in rivers and sea. The experiences from other species, like houting on the North Sea coast in Denmark, sea-trout and salmon will be reflected and used as basis for ideation. Possibilities to construct fish passages for whitefish will be discussed as well as guidelines for their design. Guidelines and ideas for the implementation of these will be presented.

III) International collaboration, both within Baltic Sea - North Sea countries and in trans-Atlantic perspective. Whitefish in the North America, status and management of stocks. Do we have a common approach, vision, direction and methods?

IV) A new project for the whitefish based on discussion in workshop. Establishment of core team for application