Work Package 4 Assessment of status and management of seatrout rivers and stocks

WP Leader
PP 13 - Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, HELCOM
Contact: Henri Jokinen henri.jokinen(a)helcom.fi
Aim of the WP
The WP aim is to assess the pressure of recreational fishing on sea trout stocks, to compile information on the status of sea trout rivers and stocks in the Baltic Sea region, to evaluate different river restoration methods and technological solutions and to recommend best practices and management options.
The gained experience will be synthesised in a dedicated Baltic Toolbox with a set of river restoration measures to be published as a HELCOM report with pan-Baltic recommendations, including a section with case studies. The main results will be translated into local languages for national dissemination.

In summary, the WP will:

  1. Develop a common, standardised methodology of habitat monitoring and electrofishing
  2. Perform a scenario study including
    1. assessment of recreational fishing pressure
    2. assessment of status of sea trout rivers and stocks
    3. comparison of different management options
  3. Evaluate completed restoration projects to identify success factors
  4. Demonstrate efficient river restoration measures and implementation methods (through demonstration projects)
  5. Develop a Baltic Toolbox for River Restoration to be used at the pan-Baltic level and by local, regional and national authorities.

Activity 4.1 - Assessment of sea trout river and stock status, impacts of recreational fishing and management options.

Activity leader

PP 13 - Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, HELCOM

Contact: Henri Jokinen henri.jokinen(a)helcom.fi

Description

The majority of the trout populations in the Baltic sea are experiencing low numbers. In order to assess the current status and need for measures the activity aims to:

  • Develop a common, standardised methodology for assessing sea trout river and stock status
  • Assess sea trout river and stock status
  • Gather data on recreational fishing and its impacts on sea trout populations
  • Evaluate management option scenarios to determine the potential growth of the sea trout resource from river restoration measures

The information is needed for sustainable management, enhanced fish stocks, optimized fishing of sea trout stocks, and contribution to EU efforts to develop a sea trout management plan. The main output of the activity will be a report including the main results, which will be published by HELCOM.

Ecological status classification is done according to WFD in all EU countries. Intercalibration is needed for parameters describing the morphology and hydrology of rivers. A habitat survey method has been developed in Sweden to incorporate hydrological and morphological status with habitat suitability for stream fish and other relevant information relating to ecological status of rivers. This methodology will be tested in selected rivers: Riva (LV), Loobu jõgi, Jägala jõgi, Kunda jõgi and Valgejõgi (EE), Smiltelė (LT), and Reda (PL). This testing and joint evaluation will facilitate work on sea trout stock assessment and result in a common and standardised way to survey rivers that fulfils requirements of WFD and assessing sea trout production as a fishing resource.

The national fishery research institutes i.e. EMI in EE, BIOR in LV, Klaipeda University in LT and MIG in PL will undertake national tests based on the approach developed in Sweden for assessing sea trout river and stock status. An assessment of stock status will be carried out, building on the work being done by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) Assessment Working Group on Baltic Salmon and Trout (WGBAST). MIR will lead the task of evaluating the impact of recreational fisheries on sea trout stock. HELCOM will be responsible for overall coordination as well as preparation of the activity output.

There are transnational interests in developing common standards for classifying and assessing sea trout river and stock status. The joint testing exercise will result in new expertise in standardised assessment methodology that supports international reporting requirements (CFP, WFD, HELCOM) and sustainable management. The potentially high impact of recreational fisheries on sea trout stocks and the lack of these data in several countries has been flagged also by ICES WGBAST (2016).

Since 2008, HELCOM has convened a targeted group on Fisheries-Environment interactions (currently called HELCOMFISH) which has a dedicated Task Force on Migratory Fish. Reporting on the status of sea trout and salmon rivers as well as river restoration have recently been identified as priority topics.

Assessment of sea trout river and stock status, extent of pressures and management options

The joint basin-wide testing exercise will result in new thematic expertise in common, standardised methodology for assessment of sea trout river and stock status to support fisheries management and the CFP, reaching good ecological status according to WFD and facilitating international cooperation and exchange of data.

In addition to developing common assessment methodology, a concrete output of the activity will be the publication of a HELCOM report assessing the status of sea trout rivers and stocks, including the extent of impacts caused by recreational fisheries and scenarios for management. The assessment will be largely based on existing data and information available via project partners, HELCOM Contracting Parties and ICES WG BAST, while some national measures will be implemented to strengthen stock assessment and management capacity.

 

Activity 4.2 - Joint evaluation of completed restoration projects

Activity leader

PP 8 - Institute of Food Safety, Animal Health and Environment - "BIOR"

Contact: Didzis Ustups didzis.ustups(a)bior.lv

Description

The aim of this activity is to undertake a research study of already completed river restoration projects in order to identify differences between successful and failed projects. Due to the lack of good follow-up studies, there are many lessons not learned or shared from already performed restoration projects. By using the joint experiences and expertise of the international partners, it will be possible to design and carryout cost-efficient follow-up studies.

The project aims at a joint evaluation of the ecological effects of habitat restorations and fish ways already installed, as well as gathering data on costs, construction time, stakeholder involvement/information and project difficulties. Comparisons of different national approaches will be performed and recommendations developed. A consolidated report on success factors will be produced and included as a chapter in the Baltic Toolbox (to be prepared under GA4.4).

The WP working group includes experts in the fields of river restoration, fish biology, cultural history, water resources management and environmental communication. The national fishery research institutes i.e. EMI in Estonia, BIOR in Latvia, Klaipeda University in Lithuania and MIR in Poland, will jointly develop a common method and undertake national studies for evaluating completed restoration projects. The national teams will be supported by the Water Development Centre (UCV) at Campus Roslagen, Norrtälje, with Nandita Singh as the contact person, who will coordinate and provide thematic expertise on water dialogue and stakeholder communication linked to water river restoration projects.

The implementation approach includes the following steps:

  1. Projects are selected primarily taking into account the HELCOM list of priority rivers
  2. Preferably, the effects of implemented restoration measures are already described quantitatively and/or qualitatively
  3. Documented baseline conditions before the implementation of measures is necessary for inclusion in the evaluation
  4. The conditions should be described from all relevant points of view: environmental issues, sea trout production, biodiversity, ecological status, cultural heritage, energy production, recreational value and other stakeholder interests
  5. Applied methods include electrofishing, habitat mapping, documentation of cultural heritage as well as interviews with responsible administrators and stakeholders
  6. After thorough description of the selected projects, successful and unsuccessful projects are compared with quantitatively (multivariate analysis) and qualitatively (comparative case study analysis) and best practices are defined
  7. A concise report on success factors will be produced and included as a chapter in the Baltic Toolbox to be published by HELCOM (e.g. under Activity 4.4).
Success factors in river restoration projects

Transnational learning will result in increased knowledge of lessons learned of different approaches, management systems, applied research and innovative tools (e.g. stakeholder communication and engagement, public-private-partnership and cross-sectorial coordination) which support advancing of implementation and improve the success of river restoration activities. Some countries are ahead of others, nurturing collaborative learning and joint problem solving. Having knowledge of international experiences strengthens the institutions' ability to get acceptance for required measures and deployment of best practices.

A report comprising descriptions of selected projects and comparison of successful and unsuccessful ones, as well as identified best practices, will be included in the Baltic Toolbox (output of A4.4). This output will advance the speed of implementation of restoration measures and support authorities in identifying the most cost-effective measures for river restoration.

As the project spans a large region, with similar problems and focus species, the joint learning from previous and on-going restoration projects constitutes an important basis for improving and facilitating future projects. The compiled information on river restoration success factors will support NATIONAL, REGIONAL AND LOCAL ADMINISTRATIONS to identify the most cost-efficient measures of improving water quality and fish stock status, i.e. the management of coastal and marine resources to underpin sustainable blue growth sectors.

The compiled information on river restoration success factors provides input to the development of pan-Baltic recommendations and guidelines for river restoration and management of sea trout rivers and stocks (i.e. to be included in the Baltic Toolbox to be developed under A4.4).

Activity 4.3 - Demonstrating efficient river restoration measures

Activity leader

PP 5 - University of Tartu

Contact: Martin Kesler martin.kesler(a)ut.ee

Description

Based on the transnational research and dialogue, the partners intend to demonstrate efficient river restoration measures and implementation methods as a way to promote identified success factors/best practices and innovative approaches.

Each demonstration project will form its own subtask and will come with a dedicated case study report covering the key issues in English. A summary of the demonstration project results will be included as a dedicated section in the Baltic Toolbox (output of A4.4).

 

In the demonstration projects below there will likely be some form of stakeholder consultation or planning for it, which can be supported by Campus Roslagen.

 

Proposed sequence of events is as follows.

  1. First, a causal analysis is undertaken. Reasons for weak trout stocks or less than good ecological status are analysed. Then restoration measures are suggested based on the identified causes of environmental issues and current conditions. This results in a checklist of necessary components for a restoration knowledgebase (e.g. GIS analyses, monitoring of migration obstacles, hydromorphological changes).
  2. Cultural heritage, energy production, recreational value and other stakeholder interests are described and possible conflicting interests are identified.
  3. Compromise solutions are developed together with stakeholders that improve all relevant biological parameters, prerequisites for fishing and recreation as well as protect and highlight cultural heritage. Stakeholders are identified, sampled and consulted using different methods, e.g. individual discussions, focus groups, negotiations, public meetings, and opinion surveys, if needed.
  4. Planning and design of measures
  5. Environmental impact assessment
  6. Application to the competent authority (will differ between countries and projects). Court proceedings if necessary.
  7. Implementation phase

Depending on the stage of the study project, different actions will be taken. The following projects are implemented with the Programme funds:

 

Plan of activities

Estonia (Tarttu University)

  • Valgejõgi
    • Planning river restoration activities such as fish passes and removal of dams.
  • Loobu jõgi
    • Planning river restoration activities such as fish passes and removal of dams.
  • Jägala jõgi
    • Planning river restoration activities such as fish passes and removal of dams.
  • Kunda jõgi
    • Planning river restoration activities such as fish passes and removal of dams.

Lithuania (Klaipeda University)

  • Smiltelė
    • Pond system restoration to reduce nutrients load and eutrophication; and rehabilitation of degraded sea trout spawning and nursery habitats.

Latvia (Ventspils county municipality supported by BIOR)

  • Rīva
    • Pilot activity for restoration in the Riva river system involving fish paths.

Sweden (County Administrative Board in Stockholm)

  • Bränningeån (together with Södertälje municipality AO21)
    • Test of different habitat improvement methods along the lower stretch of Bränningeån.
  • Erstaviksbäcken
    • Test of different habitat improvement methods.
  • Skeboån (together with Campus Roslagen)
    • Fish pass past a dam at the river mouth
  • Moraån (together with Södertälje municipality AO21)
    • Removal or lowering of the dam at Telebro
  • Vitsån (together with Haninge municipality)
    • Restoration of the river bed downstream a removed dam

Poland (Maritime Institute of Gdansk)

  • Reda
    • Rebuilding of a non-functioning fish pass in the Reda river

In addition, the research institutions will be able to apply the new knowledge in other national projects since several of these institutions are planning, implementing and monitoring river restoration measures on behalf of national authorities.

The transnational learning-by-doing will result in increased knowledge of lessons learned of different approaches, management systems and innovative tools (e.g. stakeholder communication, cross-sectorial coordination) valuable for advancing implementation. Having knowledge of the international experience will strengthen the institutions' ability to get acceptance for new, innovative and more efficient planning methods and technologies. The selected demonstration projects will serve as good examples for replication in each participating country.

At the pan-Baltic level, the new knowledge provides concrete input to the Baltic Toolkit for River Restoration and development of recommendations for improving habitat and stocks of migratory fish species.

Activity 4.4 - Develop Baltic Toolbox for River Restoration

Activity leader

PP 13 - Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, HELCOM

Contact: Henri Jokinen henri.jokinen(a)helcom.fi

Description

The main task of this activity is to summarise all the lessons learned within WP 4 in a Baltic Sea region best practices manual for river restoration (Baltic Toolbox) to be used by local, regional, national public authorities. The publication will i.a. include recommendations for cost-efficient and effective river restoration, best practices, trout river monitoring methods and plan)

At the end of the project one pan-Baltic conclusion meeting River restoration and trout management will be arranged.

Toolbox for river restoration

A report on Baltic Sea region best practices manual for river restoration. The main report/publication of the WP 4 -summarising best practices and providing recommendations will be based on first drafts by HELCOM and incorporate commenting by the WP4 WG and other project partners and relevant HELCOM groups. The publication will i.a. include recommendations for cost-efficient and effective river restoration, best practices, trout river monitoring methods and plan).