Bonus Projects


Integrated governance of Baltic herring and salmon stocks involving stakeholders

Dioxin in Baltic fish

Baltic salmon and herring provide a rich source of Omega3 fatty acids and vitamin D for humans. However, as fatty fish species they also absorb high concentrations of dioxin and dioxin-like PCBs, which are harmful to human health. Therefore these fishes are not allowed to be marketed within the EU that has banned the selling of foodstuffs containing dioxins above defined maximum levels. Only Finland and Sweden have an exemption for marketing herring and salmon with high levels of dioxin within their national boundaries. Latvia has an exemption for salmon. The permits oblige the states to inform their citizens about the detrimental health impacts of the fish, by recommendations on their maximum intake.

Inevitably, the toxicants decrease the attractiveness of the Baltic fish for consumers. This may have impacts on the fisheries management decisions, fishing, the fish populations and thereby the whole Baltic Sea ecosystem.  A decrease in dioxin concentration could restore the significance of salmon and herring as healthy local food, make the prerequisites for fishing livelihood more stable, and improve the image of the whole Baltic Sea.

Ecosystem approach

GOHERR analyses the potential of ecosystem-based management in decreasing the dioxin content of salmon and herring while ensuring the sustainable use of the resources. The ecosystem approach requires holistic thinking and comprehensive representations of the ecosystem, including social components. The aim of GOHERR is to develop an integrated governance framework involving stakeholders, and a related decision support tool for the management of Baltic herring and salmon stocks. The framework combines the health of the Baltic Sea with the health of humans, and the dynamics of the ecosystem with human values and behaviour. It will be analysed

1) what are the socio-cultural and political prerequisites for successful integrated fisheries governance, and what kind of institutional, organisational, structural and attitudinal flexibility is needed,

2) if and how integrated fisheries governance can benefit the sector based management of Baltic herring and salmon, the stakeholders, and eventually consumers in terms of reduced dioxin content in fish, and

3) how integrated governance at the regional level can be linked to governance at the national and international levels.

Interdisciplinary Bayesian decision analysis

GOHERR combines social scientific, biological and public health research by using Bayesian decision analysis, value of control (VOC) analysis and value of information (VOI) analysis. The project is expected to enhance the understanding of integrated governance. It will suggest ways for bridging policy sectors and stakeholder perspectives in ecosystem-based governance. Finally, the project will produce new knowledge related to the interaction between Baltic salmon and herring stocks and the impact of this on dioxin concentration, as well as to the socio-cultural value of these fish resources.


GOHERR utilises Open Policy Practice, which is a recently developed set of guidance, practices, web workspaces and tools, for managing information flows and storage in complex policy problems with multiple stakeholder groups, sectors, and governance levels. A key tool is Opasnet web workspace. Opasnet offers functionalities both for scientific scrutiny and for dissemination, public discussion, questionnaires, online modeling, and for data storage and visualisation (

For further information, please visit GOHERR website:

Project partners


University of Helsinki (Prof. Sakari Kuikka, Dr. Päivi Haapasaari (PI), PhD student Suvi Ignatius)

University of Oulu (Adj. prof. Timo P. Karjalainen, Adj. prof. Simo Sarkki, PhD student Mia Pihlajamäki)

National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) (Chief researcher Jouni Tuomisto, Dr. Arja Asikainen)


Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) (Prof. Anna Gårdmark, Dr. Johan Östergren, Dr. Magnus Huss, Dr. Andreas Bryhn)


Aalborg University (Assistant prof. Alyne Delaney, Prof. Jesper Raakjaer)


Dr. Päivi Haapasaari

University of Helsinki, Finland