Institute of

Fisheries Ecology


Institute of Fisheries Ecology

Herwigstraße 31
27572 Bremerhaven
Phone: + 49 471 94460 201
Fax: + 49 471 94460 199

 (c) M. Freese, Thünen-Institut/FI

Inland waters and shelf seas are sensitive ecosystems. We know them as important economic zones for aquaculture and fisheries. At the same time, excessive nutrient input and pollution caused by contaminants jeopardise these habitats. Against this overarching backdrop we establish the key topics for our research and policy advice.

Our remit is to explore and monitor the marine environment. We seek to identify early changes and to assess their impacts on the use potential of living resources. Alternative use concepts are becoming increasingly important particularly in the context of the development of sustainable production methods in marine and freshwater aquaculture. Use concepts also become protection concepts when it comes to preserving sensitive migratory fish species or protecting genetic diversity in aquatic stocks.

  • Healthy, sustainably useable marine resources: The use of marine resources is dependent on their protection from pollutants and their health. With our three research vessels and modern laboratory analytics, we record unique long-term data on radioactivity and contaminant loads in fish and other aquatic organisms. Our tasks also include the monitoring of fish diseases. Every year we assess the health condition of thousands of individual fish from the North and Baltic Seas.
  • Analysis, evaluation and optimisation of aquaculture systems: Around the world marine and freshwater aquaculture already supplies more than half the fish and seafood for human consumption. At the same time, various aquaculture systems, in particular intensive ones, around the globe fail markedly to meet the requirements in terms of resource efficiency and environmental impact. We evaluate the economic and ecological aspects and the animal welfare compliance of various methods, develop new feeds and test new species for their suitability for aquaculture.
  • Preservation of genetic diversity in seas and inland waters: We develop protection concepts to preserve sensitive migratory fish species and conserve the diversity of aquatic stocks. Furthermore, we draw on our expertise in the field of species identification and genetic fingerprinting. Using a unique DNA sample collection from Atlantic fish species we help to stop the import of processed fish products from illegal or non-regulated fishing.

We work in an interdisciplinary manner - chemists, biologists, fisheries and aquaculture experts and technicians work closely together at our Institute in order to carry forward research in the field of fisheries ecology together with our international partners. This enables us to provide a high standard of advice for policymakers and to meet quality standards for our monitoring obligations within the framework of international agreements (OSPAR, HELCOM, EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive).

Fields of Activity