Institute of Coastal Research

Last changed: 06 December 2018

The Institute of Coastal Research conducts research and environmental assessment of coastal fish, fisheries and ecosystems for advices and marine planning. We are leading in age and growth analyses on fish and the development of gears for small-scale coastal fisheries. Our research focus on the impact of mammals and birds, climate and environmental changes on fish stocks and fish communities. We investigate the biological effects of intake and discharge water from nuclear power plants. At the field station in Älvkarleby we conduct breeding and research on farmed salmon and trout.

Assessment criteria for environmental status and fish and fishery management

The Inst. Coastal Research conducts national and regional fish monitoring along the Swedish coasts to study and analyse fish communities development. We store and make quality assured data openly accessible in our databases. Within both national and EU common data collection program we collect, quality assure and store fisheries data from coastal fisheries, including eel, herring, whitefish and flounder.

Marine spatial planning and ecosystem analysis

We use data to understand the fishes’ role in the ecosystem to give advice on coastal ecosystems and fisheries. For example, we provide data for management of both internationally regulated species and nationally managed species (e.g. perch, pike, whitefish, whitefish and pike). Analysis and mapping is also done for recreational fisheries. We provide data for marine planning and protected areas by habitat mapping and spatial analysis.

We also develop ecosystem-based fisheries management and advices. Through integrated ecosystem analysis, development of indicators and criteria for the status of coastal fish, and mathematical models we study how fish interact with each other and the environment. Our results increase the knowledge about the fish's role in the ecosystem and how humans and the environment affect fish communities.

Biological effects of nuclear energy intake and discharge of cooling water

We do environmental monitoring of how the fish and benthic fauna are affected by the intake and discharge of cooling water at all Swedish nuclear power plants. In Forsmark there is a research basin, the Biotest basin, an enclosed sea area, where the discharge of hot cooloing water from the Forsmark nuclear power plant raises the water temperature. Here we examine the relationship between water temperature and biological processes and how warmer water affects plants and animals.  

Age and growth analysis on fish

For research and advice are fish age and growth important. The age of fishes can be determined by studying growth patterns in their otoliths or gill covers. We are the leading department in Sweden for determining the age of perch, eel, flounder, herring, whitefish, stickleback and other coastal fish species. In international cooperation, we develop methods for increased accuracy and resolution (e.g. daily growth), as well as new methodology, such as chemical composition of the otoliths that can show where the fish has been during different life-stages. Annually, we determine age of over 10,000 fish as part of the Swedish environmental monitoring program.

Effects of climate change on fish communities

Waterbodies become warmer, darker (mostly lakes) and less saline (the Baltic). How this affects fishing communities and fisheries we investigate by studying the physiology of fish and interactions between individuals (of the same or other species). We combine mesocosm experiments, field experiments and mathematical modeling to link the effects at the individual level to the aggregated effects on populations, communities, and food-web interactions.

Fish size and food dependent growth

Fish grow throughout their life. The diet of a fish depends on how large it is, and how large it is in turn depends on how much it has eaten. This leads to a feedback between how fish individuals affect their environment and how they in turn are influenced by the environment. We study how the interaction between individuals of different sizes in the ecosystem varies over time, and how it affects changes in the fish populations, communities and food webs, and how size distributions are affected by fisheries, environmental changes and pollution. An important part of our work is how we can detect food dependent growth in natural fish populations, and how we can take these processes into account in our biological advice on.

Effects of seal and bird on fish and fishing

Populations of seals and cormorants have increased in last decades. To estimate how much fish seal and cormorant eat of different species and their impact on fisheries, we do dietary analyzes to investigate the roles of seals and cormorants role in coastal ecosystems.

Development of tools for small-scale coastal fishing

To reduce both the conflict between fisheries and marine mammals or birds, as well as to reduce by-catches of mammals, birds and undesired fish, we develop fishing gears together with the fishing industry that lowers the ecosystem impact and increase the profit of small-scale fisheries. Breeding and research on farmed salmon and trout

The experimental fisheries station in Älvkarleby produces about 140,000 salmon and trout smolts per year for the release into the River Dalälven. Here are aquariums, as well as a stream and river stretch for experiments. Research and breeding of farmed fish is conducted in an environmentally friendly and ethical aquaculture. The station is run by SLU but welcomes other institutions and companies to conduct research and experiments with us.


The laboratory cooperates with all major Swedish university, dozens of international universities, as well as fisheries and marine environmental institutes around the Baltic Sea. Cooperation also takes place within a number of national and regional authorities and other research institutes.

ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) was founded in 1902 in Copenhagen by eight Northern European countries. Today Ices has twenty member nations and six observational nations. Initially ICES aimed to be a scientific organization that would solve the problems in the fishery and Ices should serve as a multidisciplinary forum for the scientific issues related to the sea. Today ICES is a modern intergovernmental organization that supports research in the North Atlantic.

HELCOM is the governing body of the "Convention on the Protection of the Baltic Marine Environment". The nine Baltic Sea countries and the EU are the members of HELCOM with its headquarter in Helsinki. HELCOM's main purpose is to protect the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution and to ensure safe navigation.

Office addresses

Our headquartered is located in Öregrund and we have local offices in Simpevarp, Väröbacka, Lysekil, and Älvkarleby.

SLU Aqua
Department of Aquatic Resources
Inst. Coastal Research
Skolgatan 6 742 42 Öregrund
Tel: +46 18-67 10 00  


SLU Aqua 
Department of Aquatic Resources
Inst. Coastal Research
Experimental Station 


Here work is focused on monitoring along the Southwest Baltic coast and data collection in the framework of the EU Data Collection Directive. The office is also responsible for the control of the nuclear power plant in Simpevarp.

SLU Aqua 
Department of Aquatic Resources
Inst. Coastal Research
Simpevarp 100
572 95 Figeholm


The office in Väröbacka is responsible for monitoring and data collection along the Kattegat and Skagerrak coasts. It is also responsible for the Ringhals nuclear power plant control and monitoring at the former nuclear power plant at Barsebäck and control program at Värö paper mill.

SLU Aqua
Department of Aquatic Resources
Inst. Coastal Research
Skällåkra 71
432 65 Väröbacka


Here we conduct the development of low-impact gear for small-scale coastal fisheries in cooperation with the coastal fisherman. The office is responsible for diet analyses of seals and birds and assessing their impact on fish and fisheries.

SLU Aqua 
Department of Aquatic Resources
Inst. Coastal Research
Turistgatan 5
453 30 Lysekil


Johanna Mattila, Head of Division/Research Group Leader
Department of Aquatic Resources, Institute of Coastal Research, SLU, 010-478 41 42

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