, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 325–336 | Cite as

Pikeperch (Sander lucioperca (L.)) in Decline: High Mortality of Three Populations in the Northern Baltic Sea

  • Noora Mustamäki
  • Ulf Bergström
  • Kaj Ådjers
  • Alf Sevastik
  • Johanna Mattila


The development of three pikeperch (Sander lucioperca (L.)) populations in the northern Baltic Sea was monitored using standardized multimesh gillnets in 1995–2009. Declining trends in the abundances of pikeperch over 40 cm total length, low numbers of individuals older than 6 years, and high mortality rates were observed in all three populations. In the site with the largest commercial catches per unit area and a rapidly increased colony of great cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis Blumenbach 1798), also the abundance of pikeperch below 40 cm total length and year-class strength showed declining trends. The adverse population level changes did not correlate with changes in water quality or eutrophication status. Together, the results suggest that in all study sites fisheries are harvesting a large proportion of the pikeperch soon after or even before reaching the maturity, and that predation from great cormorants may increase mortality of juveniles. Pikeperch is important not only for fisheries but also for ecosystem functioning, and our results point at the need for further management measures to ensure viable populations in the areas studied.


Year-class strength Commercial fishing Multimesh gillnet monitoring Mortality Great cormorant 



We thank the Environment Agency of the Provincial Government of Åland Islands, Husö biological station, Finnish Meteorological Institute and Svealand’s Coastal Water Management Association for providing data. Special thanks to Outi Heikinheimo, Tom Karlsson, Åsa Hägg, Kerstin Söderberg, Maria Boström and everyone involved in performing the gillnet monitoring. This study was financed by the Baltic Sea 2020 Foundation, Åbo Akademi University Endowment and Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland.

Supplementary material

13280_2013_429_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (98 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 97 kb)


  1. Berkeley, S.A., C. Chapman, and S.M. Sogard. 2004. Maternal age as a determinant of larval growth and survival in marine fish, Sebastes melanops. Ecology 85: 1258–1264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Beverton, R.J.H., and S.J. Holt. 1957. On the dynamics of exploited fish populations. Fisheries Investigations (Series 2), vol. 19. United Kingdom Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, 533 pp.Google Scholar
  3. Birkeland, C., and P.K. Dayton. 2005. The importance in fishery management of leaving the big ones. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 20: 356–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brabrand, Å., and B. Faafeng. 1993. Habitat shift in roach (Rutilus rutilus) induced by pikeperch (Stizostedion lucioperca) introduction: Predation risk versus pelagic behaviour. Oecologia 95: 38–46.Google Scholar
  5. Dunn, A., R.I.C.C. Francis, and I.J. Doonan. 2002. Comparison of the Chapman-Robson and regression estimators of Z from catch-curve data when non-sampling stochastic error is present. Fisheries Research 59: 149–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Eero, M. 2004. Consequences of management of pikeperch (Stizostedion lucioperca L.) stock in Pärnu Bay (Baltic Sea) under two different economic regimes, 1960–1999. Fisheries Research 68: 1–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Eriksson, B.K., K. Sieben, J. Eklöf, L. Ljunggren, J. Olsson, M. Casini, and U. Bergström. 2011. Effects of altered offshore food webs on coastal ecosystems emphasize the need for cross-ecosystem management. AMBIO 7: 786–797.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute. 2006. Kalavarat 2006. Helsinki: Publications of Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute, 79 pp (In Finnish).Google Scholar
  9. Heikinheimo, O., J. Setälä, K. Saarni, and J. Raitaniemi. 2006. Impacts of mesh size regulation of gillnets on the pikeperch fisheries in the Archipelago Sea, Finland. Fisheries Research 77: 192–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. HELCOM. 2006. Assessment of coastal fish in the Baltic Sea. Baltic Sea Environment Proceedings No. 103 A, 23 pp.Google Scholar
  11. HELCOM. 2009. Eutrophication in the Baltic Sea—An integrated thematic assessment of the effects of nutrient enrichment and eutrophication in the Baltic Sea region: Executive Summary. Baltic Sea Environment Proceedings No. 115A, 19 pp.Google Scholar
  12. HELCOM. 2012. Indicator based assessment of coastal fish community status in the Baltic Sea 2005–2009. Baltic Sea Environment Proceedings No. 131, 92 pp.Google Scholar
  13. Herrmann, C., T. Bregnballe, K. Larsson, I. Ojaste, and K. Rattiste. 2011. Population development of Baltic bird species: Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis). HELCOM Indicator Fact Sheets 2010 [WWW document]. URL Accessed 24 Oct 2012.
  14. Kjellman, J., J. Lappalainen, L. Urho, and R. Hudd. 2003. Early determination of perch and pikeperch recruitment in the northern Baltic Sea. Hydrobiologia 495: 181–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Korhonen, K. 2010. Diet of the great cormorant nestlings in the Finnish archipelago during summers 2009–2010. Bachelor’s Thesis, University of Applied Sciences, Turku, Finland.Google Scholar
  16. Kosior, M., and T. Wandzel. 2001. Comparison of fecundity of pikeperch (Stizostedion lucioperca [L.]) in three lagoons in the southern Baltic Sea. Bulletin of the Sea Fisheries Institute 3: 3–27.Google Scholar
  17. Lappalainen, A., P. Söderkultalahti, and T. Wiik. 2002. Changes in the commercial fishery for pikeperch (Stizostedion lucioperca) on the Finnish coast from 1980 to 1999—Consequences of environmental and economic factors. Archive of Fishery and Marine Research 49: 199–212.Google Scholar
  18. Lappalainen, J., H. Dörner, and K. Wysujack. 2003. Reproduction biology of pikeperch (Sander lucioperca (L.))—A review. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 12: 95–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Law, R. 2000. Fishing, selection, and phenotypic evolution. ICES Journal of Marine Science 57: 659–668.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lehikoinen, A., O. Heikinheimo, and A. Lappalainen. 2011. Temporal changes in the diet of great cormorant on the southern coast of Finland—Comparison to available fish data. Boreal Environment Research 16: 61–70.Google Scholar
  21. Lehtonen, H., S. Hansson, and H. Winkler. 1996. Biology and exploitation of pikeperch, Stizostedion lucioperca (L.), in the Baltic Sea. Annales Zoologici Fennici 33: 525–535.Google Scholar
  22. Lundström, K., O. Hjerne, S.-G. Lunneryd, and O. Karlsson. 2010. Understanding the diet composition of marine mammals: Grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) in the Baltic Sea. ICES Journal of Marine Science 67: 1230–1239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Olin, M., J. Jutila, H. Lehtonen, and M. Vinni. 2012. Importance of maternal size on the reproductive success of perch, Perca fluviatilis, in small forest lakes: Implications for fisheries management. Fisheries Management and Ecology 19: 363–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Östman, Ö., M.A.J. Bergenius, M.K. Boström, and S.G. Lunneryd. 2012. Do cormorant colonies affect local fish communities in the Baltic Sea? Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 69: 1047–1055.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ozyurt, C.E., V.B. Kiyaga, S. Mavruk, and E. Akamca. 2011. Spawning, maturity length and size selectivity for pikeperch (Sander lucioperca) in Seyhan Dam Lake. Journal of Animal and Veterinary Advances 10: 545–551.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Pekcan-Hekim, Z., L. Urho, H. Auvinen, O. Heikinheimo, J. Lappalainen, J. Raitaniemi, and P. Söderkultalahti. 2011. Climate warming and pikeperch year-class catches in the Baltic Sea. AMBIO 40: 447–456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Ridgeway, M.S. 2010. A review of estimates of daily energy expenditure and food intake in cormorants (Phalacrocorax spp.). Journal of Great Lakes Research 36: 93–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Söderkultalahti, P., and A. Ahvonen. 2011. Hylkeiden ammattikalastukselle aiheuttamat saalisvahingot 2010. Helsinki: Publications of Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute 19/2011, 11 pp.Google Scholar
  29. Sundblad, G., U. Bergström, and A. Sandström. 2011. Ecological coherence of marine protected area networks: A spatial assessment using species distribution models. Journal of Applied Ecology 48: 112–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Swedish Board of Fisheries. 2011. Fiskbestånd och miljö i hav och sötvatten. Resurs-och miljööversikt 2011. Ödeshög: Swedish Board of Fisheries, 251 pp.Google Scholar
  31. Vainikka, A., and P. Hyvärinen. 2012. Ecologically and evolutionarily sustainable fishing of the pikeperch Sander lucioperca: Lake Oulujärvi as an example. Fisheries Research 113: 8–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Veneranta, L., L. Urho, A. Lappalainen, and M. Kallasvuo. 2011. Turbidity characterizes the reproduction areas of pikeperch (Sander lucioperca (L.)) in the northern Baltic Sea. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 95: 199–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Vetemaa, M., R. Eschbaum, A. Albert, L. Saks, A. Verliin, K. Jürgens, M. Kesler, K. Hubel, R. Hannesson, and T. Saat. 2010. Changes in fish stocks in an Estonian estuary: Overfishing by cormorants? ICES Journal of Marine Science 67: 1972–1979.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wikman, M. 2010. Monitoring game abundance in Finland in 2010. Riista-ja kalatalous—Selvityksiä 21/2010, 45 pp (In Finnish, English Abstract).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noora Mustamäki
    • 1
  • Ulf Bergström
    • 2
  • Kaj Ådjers
    • 3
  • Alf Sevastik
    • 4
  • Johanna Mattila
    • 1
  1. 1.Environmental and Marine Biology & Husö Biological StationÅbo Akademi UniversityTurkuFinland
  2. 2.Department of Aquatic ResourcesSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesÖregrundSweden
  3. 3.Provincial Government of Åland IslandsFisheries DivisionMariehamnFinland
  4. 4.ÖsthammarSweden

Personalised recommendations