Coastal areas provide habitat for a great variety of living organisms and are valuable parts of the Baltic Sea environment. They are also important areas for human activities and as such of high economic interest. Increasingly, they support human uses and claims for space through transport, fishing, tourism, and energy generation and supply activities.

The project HERRING exemplary looks at a typical ecosystem resource where these demands for space collide: Baltic herring and its coastal spawning grounds. The fish species plays a crucial role in the food chain of the marine ecosystem and has a long tradition as food fish in the region.

Management of coastal areas has to balance many claims and economic interests. Despite their crucial role for the development of fish populations, ecosystem functions are often inadequately included in existing management strategies and regulations. Using herring as an example, the project aims to foster the consideration of coastal spawning area management.

Several regional case study areas have been selected:

The activities compile knowledge on the ecological conditions of these areas, and on the impacts of present and future human activities and spatial uses. They further analyse the multi-level institutions and management instruments governing the use and protection of coastal herring spawning grounds.

Within case studies findings are shared with regional scientists, fishermen, and coastal and planning authorities. Discussions aim at identifying crucial influences and conflicting structures as well as good-practice examples for regional management.

Knowledge and results gained on case study level will be transferred to a transnational level to share experiences and best-practice and to identify possible intervention points for the introduction of new and improved forms of resource governance.

By consolidating natural science results, policy and planning levels, the project HERRING will develop strategy options and joint recommendations for an improved management of coastal areas as spawning habitats in order to foster an integrated coastal management in the South Baltic Sea.