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Cluepa harengus

Photo: Gunnar Aneer/AzotePhoto: Gunnar Aneer/Azote

The Baltic Sea herring is an important prey species for many predators including cod and seals. The species includes populations of autumn-spawning herrings, mainly in the western and southern Baltic Sea; and spring-spawning herring, mainly in the eastern and northern parts of the sea basin. There is wide overlap in the distribution of the different forms.

Conservation genetic management advice

  • Spring and autumn spawning herring should be managed as separate units.
  • Assure large populations of both spawning types, to maintain potential for adaptations.

Threats to genetic biodiversity

Strong fishing pressure will reduce population size and thus negatively affect genetic biodiversity. This is because large populations maintain genetic diversity while small populations lose genetic diversity.

Local adaptations might be lost if Baltic herring populations as a whole are over harvested. Strong fishing pressure on either spring or autumn spawners could have the same effect.

Knowledge on genetics in the Baltic (2017)

Genetic adaptation of Baltic populations to the Baltic Sea environment has been confirmed. Thus, the Baltic herring represents a marine species that has evolved to survive in the brackish environment. To maintain the potential to adapt to future environmental change, large population sizes are needed.

Adaptive differences have been documented between spring and autumn spawning herring in the Baltic Sea. Thus, it is important to retain large populations of both spawning types.



Linda Laikre


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