Bonus Projects

BONUS GOHERR – Integrated governance of Baltic herring & salmon

This multivoiced and interdisciplinary blog reflects our efforts to combine the health of the Baltic Sea with the health of humans, and the ecosystem dynamics with human values and behavior. We the bloggers are doctoral students representing marine biology, environmental policy and sociology. Our blogs bring you news from the GOHERR project and thoughts about related hot topics. The aim of GOHERR is to develop integrated governance framework for Baltic salmon and herring.
20.08.2015 22:17

Combining sustainable fisheries management and human well-being

Suvi Ignatius

How to promote sustainable use of Baltic salmon and herring stocks while at same time taking into account the values of diverse stakeholder groups and public health in different Baltic Sea countries? This is the guiding question for the interdisciplinary research project GOHERR: Integrated governance of Baltic herring and salmon stocks involving stakeholders. 

GOHERR project examines the potential of ecosystem-based governance in improving the sustainable use of Baltic salmon and herring stocks and decreasing their dioxin content. We the bloggers participate in this project as doctoral students. Our blogs keep you updated on the progress of the project and on our thoughts about related topical themes.

Salmon and herring are among the most important catches in the Baltic Sea area. However, their consumption as human food has decreased in recent decades. This may be at least to some extent due to growing awareness of the official dietary restrictions and advices related to Baltic fish. On one hand Baltic salmon and herring provide a rich source of healthy fatty acids, but on the other they also contain high concentrations of harmful dioxins that are unintended impurities of burning and chlorination processes. In addition, the use of salmon is problematic because of the poor state of the wild stocks.

Dioxins are a central theme for the GOHERR project. As environmental toxins dioxins are persistent and bio-accumulative. This means that the concentrations increase toward the top of the food chain. They enter the sea as air fallout and via waterways, and are spread all over the sea area. Dioxins are also released to the water column from the sediment. Emissions have decreased, but dioxin levels in Baltic salmon and herring are still high. In GOHERR we investigate how the predator-prey interactions between salmon and herring affect the bioaccumulation of dioxins and the size of the stocks and whether selective fishing could reduce dioxin concentration in the catches. Further, we estimate how the consumption of these fish would change if dioxin concentration is reduced, and how this would affect the fishing livelihood, fish stocks and public health. We also analyze how social and cultural values affect the use and management of salmon and herring in different Baltic Sea countries and involve stakeholders in defining and prioritizing management objectives for these fish species. 

Our project started in April 2015 and continues until spring 2018. It is coordinated by University of Helsinki. Other project partners are The National Institute for Health and Welfare (Finland), University of Oulu (Finland), Aalborg University (Denmark) and The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Sweden). For more information, please see our project webpages:

About us bloggers:

Suvi, the sociologist, studies the cultural values affecting the use and governance of Baltic salmon and herring in different Baltic Sea countries. She has specialized in political sociology, social movements and public sphere. Suvi holds a MSSc from the University of Helsinki and in spring 2015 she started doctoral studies in aquatic sciences. In her opinion Baltic Sea as a source of biological diversity but also cultural meanings and political contestation provides a challenging yet exciting terrain to explore through sociological lenses.


Mia is an environmental social scientist, who holds a MSc. in environmental policy from the University of Tampere and a BSc. in marine sciences from the University of Southampton. She’s a doctoral student at the University of Oulu and her research interest cover marine and water policy from the perspectives of environmental protection, sustainable development, resource management and climate change. Her work in GOHERR contributes to the identification and prioritization of policy objectives for integrated management of Baltic salmon and herring, and defining pathways for reaching the objectives.


Philip is a marine biologist who holds a MSc. in marine ecology from Stockholm University and is a doctoral student at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. His research interests focus mainly on predator-prey interactions and their effects on population and community dynamics. Within GOHERR, Philip examines size-specific interactions between salmon, herring and sprat in the Baltic Sea and how these interactions as well as size-selective fishing affect bio-accumulation of dioxins and PCBs.


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