Return of the cod – a rescue plan

In the Return of the Cod project, which is part-funded by the Postcode Foundation, we both develop proposals for a rescue plan for Baltic cod and analyse the potential socio-economic effects of implementing such recovery plan.

In phase two, the proposals will be presented to decision-makers throughout the Baltic Sea region. The two-year project has the ambition to aid the recovery of the collapsed cod stock in the Baltic Sea.

Cod is the most important predatory fish in the Baltic Sea and it plays a key role in the marine ecosystem. For decades, the large eastern cod stock has declined dramatically. In addition to historical overfishing and continued large unauthorized discards of unwanted cod, the stock has been affected by lack of prey, parasites and oxygen-depleted sea beds. Today, the eastern Baltic cod stock only spawns in one area – the Bornholm deep north of the island of Bornholm.


Based on best available science

To facilitate the recovery of the eastern cod stock, it is important to implement measures based on the best available scientific knowledge. The marine ecosystem, as well as fishermen and coastal communities around the Baltic Sea, are all hard hit by today’s situation with starving cod and collapsed stocks.

The project includes partners in all eight EU countries involved in the management of the Baltic Sea. We start by producing two research papers: a literature review on cod and a socio-economic analysis. The reports will result in a number of concrete proposals to facilitate the recovery of cod stocks. The proposals will form the basis for extensive advocacy work aimed at responsible politicians and officials in each EU country.

The Baltic Sea is one of the world’s most studied seas, and there is no lack of research. There are also many good objectives and rules for the management of both the marine environment and fish stocks. There is, however, a lack of measures that translate the scientific knowledge into concrete actions to achieve the objectives. The support from the Postcode Foundation makes it possible to develop a rescue plan for Baltic cod, a plan that supports ecosystem-based fisheries management to the benefit of cod but also to the interaction between organisms in the Baltic Sea in general.


Support for decision makers

The Project will start with a systematic literature review of the current knowledge regarding the Baltic Sea cod, identifying measures that will aid the recovery of the cod, as well as a socio-economic impact assessment of the measures. This will result in a report of the current knowledge as well as a policy brief targeting decision-makers and stakeholders in all Baltic Sea countries. The outcome of report and policy brief will form the basis of a coordinated advocacy campaign executed by FishSec and spread by partner NGOs, other stakeholders and an established network in the region. Furthermore, a campaign in social media targeting the public will raise awareness of the possible solutions for the restoration of the Baltic sea cod aligned with sustainable fisheries.

Return of the cod will:

  • Help convince decision-makers in the Baltic Sea states and the EU to take the decisions needed, also required under existing EU law under the joint EU Common Fisheries Policy, to help the cod recover for the benefit of the ecosystem, fishermen, anglers, the tourist sector and all the people living by or visiting the Baltic Sea. Furthermore, the project includes advocacy efforts towards the private sector.
  • Engage stakholders and the general public in the Baltic region through social media regarding the need of a viable cod population.

Last updated: March 12, 2021