Journal of Coastal Conservation

, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 943–958 | Cite as

Cod and climate: a systems approach for sustainable fisheries management of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) in coastal Danish waters

  • Grete E. DinesenEmail author
  • Stefan Neuenfeldt
  • Alexandros Kokkalis
  • Andreas Lehmann
  • Josefine Egekvist
  • Kasper Kristensen
  • Peter Munk
  • Karin Hüssy
  • Josianne G. Støttrup


This study applied the Systems Approach Framework (SAF) to address the issue of declining Atlantic cod fishery in coastal areas. Interviews of 58 fishers from 26 harbours and meetings with national fisheries organisations and managers revealed the perception of an offshore movement of coastal cod. Numerical modelling based on fishing survey data did not substantiate these perceptions in the data-poor coastal waters. However, Data Storage Tag (DST) information combined with bottom sea water temperature data from the spatio-temporal hydrodynamic Baltic Sea Ice-Ocean Model showed changes in potential cod habitat distribution in the Skagerrak-Kattegat and western Baltic from 1979 to 2016. Subsequently, cod habitats were defined in three categories: (i) potentially suitable (T ≤ 12 °C); (ii) episodic (12 < T ≤ 16 °C); and (iii) unsuitable (T > 16 °C). The environmental changes were linked to the socio-economic component of cod fishery. Cod catches (weight and monetary value) were retrieved using logbook information and data from the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS, 2005–2016) and the Automatic Identification System (AIS, 2006-2016). General additive modelling significantly showed the largest proportion of catches took place in the potentially suitable habitat whereas catches were lower in the episodic habitat and rare in the unsuitable habitat. The results of this first large-scale SAF application are highly valuable for adapting existing fisheries management by: (i) providing information on habitat shrinkage for Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) based stock assessments; (ii) adding a spatio-temporal dimension for coastal productivity relative to the vessel-based Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) system; and (iii) providing a predictive scenario simulation tool for sustainable management under changing environmental conditions.


Climate change Potential fish habitats Skagerrak-Kattegat Western Baltic Systems approach framework (SAF) Stakeholder engagement 



This research has received funding from the project BONUS BaltCoast through EU BONUS (Art 185) funded jointly from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research 2007-2013 BONUS Implementation Agreement and by the Danish Research Council grants PUT1439 and IUT18-9, technological development and demonstration, and from the Baltic Sea national funding institutions, InnovationsFonden, Denmark and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research of Germany (BMBF 03F0717A).

Supplementary material

11852_2019_711_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.3 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 1.26MB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Grete E. Dinesen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stefan Neuenfeldt
    • 1
  • Alexandros Kokkalis
    • 1
  • Andreas Lehmann
    • 2
  • Josefine Egekvist
    • 1
  • Kasper Kristensen
    • 1
  • Peter Munk
    • 1
  • Karin Hüssy
    • 1
  • Josianne G. Støttrup
    • 1
  1. 1.DTU Aqua, National Institute of Aquatic ResourcesTechnical University of DenmarkKongens LyngbyDenmark
  2. 2.GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research KielKielGermany

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