Workshop on stickleback and round goby in the Baltic Sea (WKSTARGATE)
The aim of the Workshop on Stickleback and Round Goby in the Baltic Sea (WKSTARGATE) was to update, summarize and synthesize the current knowledge of both species with respect to their ecology and potential use in fisheries. Ongoing projects were presented in the mornings of the first two days to inform participants about current research in the respective countries (Annex 5). The group discussed ecological aspects that are relevant to fisheries, such as distribution and abundances, feeding ecology and behaviour. So far, no dedicated monitoring exists for either of the species. However, the Baltic International Acoustic Survey (BIAS), coordinated by ICES, has been used to estimate abundances and biomasses of pelagic stickleback in offshore areas across the Baltic, while the availability and quality of coastal data differs between countries, but is generally scarce. Even less current abundance information is available for round goby. It is only available for areas where it is already commercially exploited like Latvia.
Most studies on the ecological impact of these species focus on trophic interactions, and its resulting competition. It became clear, that these ecological impacts depend on the abundance of the species and that the effects therefore vary on a temporal and spatial scale. Estimating the ecological impact of a stickleback or round goby fishery is therefore very speculative without reliable abundance data, why the group decided to describe the known impact of the species on the ecosystem.
Landings of round goby increased significantly in Latvia during the last years, while stickleback landings decreased over the last five decades but most recently show a slight increase. A targeted round goby fishery exists in Latvian waters, while the stickleback is solely taken as bycatch in all Baltic countries. Both fisheries are currently unmanaged and, with the exception of round goby fishery in Latvia, unregulated. In Latvia the round goby fishery is regulated by effort, to reduce the bycatch of native species. Furthermore, Latvia has initiated work towards a stock assessment of round goby. Efforts for a Baltic-wide stickleback assessment have been undertaken by Sweden, and both, Sweden and Denmark are taking first steps towards a full analytical stock assessment.
Published under the auspices of the following ICES Steering Group or Committee