MarEEshift - Marine ecological economic systems in the Western Baltic Sea



Marine ecological-economic systems in the Western Baltic Sea and beyond: Shifting the baseline to a regime of sustainability

Cod and herring are important target species for the recreational and commercial fisheries in the Baltic Sea. Both fish stocks are in crisis, and science is not yet able to fully explain the environmental and anthropogenic drivers of the stock changes. MarEEshift aims to identify social, ecological and economical tipping points in the Western Baltic Sea ecoregion and to investigate the stakeholder's perceived cause and effect mechanisms regarding the western Baltic cod management as basis for a regime of sustainability.

Background and Objective

The social-ecological system „Baltic Sea“ is subject to constant changes in environmental conditions, anthropogenic pressures, as well as political and legal framework conditions. The interactions between human activities and environmental changes can trigger abrupt changes in ecosystem status (tipping points), which may result in a cascade of further social, economic and institutional tipping points. If impacts occur with time delay, relevant threshold values may be detected not until the tipping points have already been exceeded. At present, the cod and herring stocks of the Baltic Sea are subject to commercial and recreational fishing and close to collapse. The current fisheries management takes recreational fishing into account, but is confronted with the fact that recreational and commercial fisheries differ in their dynamics, objectives and preferences. It is therefore questionable whether the management approaches designed for commercial fisheries can efficiently address the needs of recreational fisheries or create conflicts between stakeholder groups and increase environmental, social and economic risks. MarEEshift aims to develop and operationalize a stable management system for the mixed commercial and recreational cod fishery in the western Baltic Sea. The project first aims to understand the drivers influencing the resilience of the marine social-ecological systems. Then, management approaches able to shift the social-ecological system into a more sustainable state are to be identified.


The Thuenen-Institute of Baltic Sea Fisheries cooperates with researchers from multiple disciplines. Time serious analysis will be applied to assess changes in recreational fishing behaviour and to identify relevant tipping points. The main responsibility of the Thünen-OF is the planning and implementation of a workshop series with different stakeholders from recreational and commercial fisheries, environmental NGOs and fisheries management. 

Our Research Questions

The workshops will serve the following objectives: (1) The exploration of stakeholders understanding for social-ecological interactions influencing cod stocks, (2) the co-production and exchange of knowledge and finally (3) the development of a common concept of sustainable management.


Involved Thünen-Partners

Involved external Thünen-Partners

  • Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei Berlin (IGB)
    (Berlin, Deutschland)
  • Universität Hamburg, Centrum für Endsystemforschung und Nachhaltigkeit (CEN)
    (Hamburg, Deutschland)
  • Universität Freiburg
    (Freiburg, Deutschland)
  • Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv), Halle-Jena-Leipzig
    (Leipzig, Deutschland)

Funding Body

  • Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
    (national, öffentlich)


5.2019 - 4.2022

More Information

Projekt type:
Project status: ongoing