Institute of

Baltic Sea Fisheries

Project STELLA: Institute of Baltic Sea Fisheries receives 1.12 mill. € funding for transdisciplinary study on the German small scale gillnet fishery in the Baltic Sea


Gill nets are the most important fishing gear for the German small scale fishery. This method is considered highly selective with respect to the target species, but unwanted bycatch of seabirds and marine mammals can be a serious environmental problem at times. An inter-disciplinary project funded by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) will try to solve the conflict between the interests of fishery and nature conservation

Stellnetze im Greifswalder Bodden (© Thuenen-Institut/ Daniel Stepputtis)

For the first time, the BfN (Marine Conservation, Vilm island) funds a large project conducted by the Thünen Institute of Baltic Sea Fisheries: “Gill nets – approaches to solutions” (German acronym STELLA). The Institute of Baltic sea Fisheries receives 1.12 mill. € funding and adds own resources. We will mainly employ 4 PhD students and two technicians/engineers who will, together with supervising OF staff, until the end of 2019 try to solve or at least mitigate the conflict between the gillnet fishery and nature conservation.

The work is structured in 5 work packages (WPs): WP1 aims at improving the data basis from this specific fishery segment (effort, catch, bycatch) – this information is required to identify homogeneous groups in the passive fishery and to derive spatio-temporal protective measures, which affect the fishery as little as possible. WP2 will modify gillnets to minimise unwanted bycatch but at the same time does not reduce the catchability for the target species unacceptably. For this WP, we have to learn about the behaviour of potentially bycaught species and take this into account. WP3 investigates the feasibility of using alternative gear (potentially also traditional gear) to reduce unwanted bycatch. WP 4 will determine how to incentivise an improved data collection or the use of modified or alternative gear. WP 5 will synthesise the results of the various disciplines fisheries biology, fishing technology and social sciences, and derives policy advice for decision makers (considering also the interests of nature conservation). Communication with the fishery and the funder will be pivotal for the success of the project; first results are expected for the end of 2017.

Project: Gill net fisheries: Development of alternative management approaches (STELLA)