RESTOCK (38566) (38400 pre-project)

Project Details


The aim of the pre-project was to explore the potential for restocking the cod stock in the eastern Baltic. A theoretical study was conducted to explore the potential for restocking bringing together scientists from the aquaculture sector, fisheries managers, ecological scientists and scientists with a background in stock enhancement. The ecology, biology and fisheries biology of the eastern Baltic was reviewed and provided the basis for the study. The results indicated a good potential for restocking with first-feeding cod larvae (Støttrup et al. 2008). This was the first example of a study to examine the potential for large-scale restocking prior to the release of fish. A 2- 3-month delay in the spawning period compared to 20-30 years ago has altered feeding conditions and predation susceptibility in a way that may have exacerbated the decline in recruitment. Producing and releasing cod larvae during spring would mimic the spawning period recorded in previous times and would coincide with the spring peak in copepod production. An evaluation of 3 different release scenarios showed that a release of 474 million first-feeding larvae over 5 months (covering the historic and present day spawning period) would enhance the average population of 2 year old by 10% and be biologically and economically the most feasible scenario.

Three years of a six year follow up project (RESTOCK) to verify the theoretical findings was funded, but due to political changes, funding for the final three years was not possible and the project was unable to empirically ascertain the potential for restocking. During the three years, 3 cod broodstocks were established with different photoperiods and subsequent spawning periods, together with the development of a technique to determine fish gender non-invasively (McEvoy et al., 2009). Egg and larval incubation techniques were developed and several investigations on temperature, salinity and food impacts on first feeding cod larvae to define the “window of opportunity” for release (i.e. time when the larvae were ready to start feeding to when they began to be too poor in condition to feed) (Støttrup et al., 2008; Overton et al. 2010; Meyer et al 2011a). A release strategy was developed and the first successful release of first-feeding fish larvae at 23 m depth was conducted, but needed further adjustments (Støttrup et al., 2008). An extensive disease monitoring program was established (Støttrup et al., 2008) and the presence of a protistan endoparasite generated a further study (Skovgård et al., 2010). Studies were also conducted to determine explore marking techniques for identification of released fish (Meyer et al., 2011b) and explore growth characteristics in cod larvae (Meyer et al., 2011a).

The project was coordinated by DTU Aqua.

Research area: Coastal Ecology
Effective start/end date01/01/200531/12/2007