Integrating spatial processes into ecosystem models for sustainable utilisation of fish resources

Last changed: 08 May 2019
Cod in the fishermans catch. Photo.

SLU Aqua is part of the BONUS project INSPIRE, with the aim to describe and understand the changes in the spatial distribution of the main commercial fish species of the Baltic Sea, cod, herring, sprat and flounder. The knowledge gained within INSPIRE will be used to advance stock assessment and ecosystem-based fisheries management. The project is constituted by a consortium of 7 countries and 12 partners and is running from 2014 to 2018.

Process-based understanding of changes in fish distributions, especially addressed to distinguish and quantify the role of natural drivers and anthropogenic impacts, is still an increasingly challenging research topic with high relevance to resource management. The overall objective of the project is to advance the knowledge-base and develop quantitative measures to evaluate the reasons and consequences of spatial and temporal heterogeneity in the Baltic Sea for an ecosystem-based management of the major fisheries resources.

The overarching objectives are to: 1) increase the knowledge on the habitat requirements of different life stages of cod, herring, sprat and flounder, and identify conditions under which the connectivity between different life stages’ habitats is at risk; 2) identify, quantify, and understand the drivers of the changes in the spatial distribution of the species; 3) account for processes shaping spatial and temporal heterogeneity of habitats and distributions of fish in an ecosystem-based fisheries management.

The objectives of the project will be achieved using a combination of dedicated field studies involving fishermen, and process studies using multidisciplinary approaches, which will feed into fish stock assessment and ecosystem models made spatially explicit for the first time in the Baltic Sea. In addition to multidisciplinary science and high management relevance, the project also includes an extensive outreach component to ensure a wide dissemination of the results. Importantly, stakeholder involvement starts already at the data generation phase and continues till the end of the project.

 The project is structured in 7 work packages:

 WP 1: Spatial distribution

WP 2: Passive movements, active migrations, and habitat connectivity

WP 3: Scaling from individuals to populations

WP 4: Stock assessments

WP 5: Ecosystem-based management

WP 6: Dissemination

WP 7: Project management


BONUS website:



Michele Casini (Assoc. Prof.), SLU Principal Investigator in charge & coordinator of WP1; e-mail:, phone: +46 (0)10 4784016

Ann-Britt Florin (Assoc. Prof.), responsible of gillnet surveys in Wp1 and stock identification of flounder in WP4; e-mail:, phone: +46 (0)10 4784122

Ulf Bergström (researcher), habitat modelling within WP1; e-mail:, phone: +46 (0)10 4784117


Michele Casini, Professor
Department of Aquatic Resources, Institute of Marine Research, SLU, +46 10 478 40 16, +46 761-26 80 07

Ann-Britt Florin, Head of Division
Department of Aquatic Resources, Institute of Coastal Research, SLU, +46 10 478 41 22

Ulf Bergström, Researcher
Department of Aquatic Resources, Institute of Coastal Research, SLU, +46 10 478 41 17

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