Return of the cod – a rescue plan

In the Return of the Cod project we have conducted an extensive review of the science behind the decline of cod in the Baltic Sea. We will use this knowledge to develop proposals for a rescue plan for Baltic cod and will work with policy makers and stakeholders around the Baltic to implement it.

The two-year project, which is part-funded by the Postcode Foundation, has the ambition to aid the recovery of the collapsed cod stock in the Baltic Sea by implementing an Ecosystem Based Approach in both fisheries and environmental management.

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, that continued long after the stock started declining, large unauthorized discards of unwanted cod continues. In addition, parts of 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.

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. But this is not translated into concrete measures and meaningful actions that aid the recovery of cod. 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. The project includes partners in all eight EU countries involved in the management of the Baltic Sea working together towards improving the management of cod.

The Decline of Cod in the Baltic Sea report

The project started with a systematic literature review of the current knowledge regarding Baltic Sea cod, identifying factors that influenced the decline of cod, as well as a socio-economic impact assessment of cod fisheries and a review of current legislation and policy. This has resulted in a state of the art report that gives a complete overview of the current knowledge as well as a policy brief directed at decision-makers and stakeholders in all Baltic Sea countries.


Download full report


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.

To facilitate the recovery of Baltic 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.

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 stakeholders and the general public in the Baltic region through social media regarding the need of a viable cod population.


Download the executive summary:  English, Swedish, Finnish, Danish, German, Lithuanian, Estonian, Latvian, Polish

 Watch our cod videos on FishSec’s Youtube channel:

Webinar presentation by the authors of our report:

Short information videos on Baltic cod:





Attached documents:

Last updated: January 26, 2023