Migration and spawning behaviors of brackish water perch and pike (38413)

Project Details


Brackish water populations of pike and perch have decreased severely along the coasts of the Baltic Sea. In Denmark a drastic decline in catches of brackish water pikes has been recorded during the last 30-40 years. Both brackish water pikes and perch are well estimated in angling and commercial fisheries on the brackish coastlines around the southern part of Zealand and the southern islands. Very little is known about their behaviour and life history, for instance the possible dependence of access to freshwaters to spawn. Obstacles in rivers and hereby blocking of migratory routes can therefore be crucial to reproductive success and survival of brackish fish populations along with deterioration of spawning areas in freshwater. In some areas perch is known to migrate into rivers to spawn in freshwater, but perch are also observed to spawn in brackish waters. In the Gulf of Bothnia perch have different spawning and migration strategies and some perch spawn in the bays with salinities of 6 ppt. whereas the upper limit of salinity tolerance during spawning is not known in Danish areas, where salinity is often 8-10 ppt.

The present project aims to initiate investigations of the dependence of perch for access to freshwater lakes and bogs for spawning. In particular it will be explored if it is possible to enhance brackish water perch recruitment by creating or reopening of access to lakes and bogs along a river system and this way to be able to re-establish or increase the brackish water perch fishery. This is highly relevant to local authorities that manage restoration of rivers and lakes. For this purpose the perch population of a large number of lakes and bogs along river systems with present or historical migration of brackish water perch will be monitored. Some of the lakes have connection to the river, some not, and in the latter a connection will be created afterwards. The fish population and recruitment of perch will be studied before and after the intervention. Scale chemistry will be explored and possibly this will be able to define whether large perch caught in the lakes and bogs during spawning actually had a brackish water life history. The project also aims to elucidate the salinity tolerance of perch under Danish condition to establish whether it is possible that some perch spawn along the coast and bays of southern Denmark. The project is done in close cooperation with municipalities around southern Zealand.

The project is coordinated by DTU Aqua.

Research area: Freshwater Fisheries and Ecology
Effective start/end date01/01/201031/12/2016