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Policy Brief: Round goby – a threat or a new resource?

image of Policy Brief: Round goby – a threat or a new resource?

Originating from the Ponto-Caspian region, the invasive round goby has since 1990 spread in the Baltic Sea region, now with established populations throughout the area. The fish is a strong competitor for food, shelter and nesting sites, and has a high tolerance towards a broad range of temperatures and salinities. In many places, it exerts negative effects on the local fish fauna and benthic community, and its presence may compromise descriptors of Good Environmental Status under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Furthermore, Marine protected areas, constructed to protect valuable and threatened species or habitats, may be compromised by its presence. Notably however, round goby is also an emerging prey for larger fish, marine mammals and birds, thus providing positive effects to the invaded ecosystems. In some areas, it also supports fisheries, adding positively to society.

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Conclusions and recommendations

Experience from all invaded regions show that when round goby has established, populations eradication is highly unlikely. Yet mitigation measures may ensure that densities are kept at acceptable levels to minimize negative impact on the invaded ecosystem. Fishing effort is an obvious mean to reduce abundances, yet it many countries round goby is not, at least yet, a valued species for human consumption. Often the public envisage the term ‘invasive species’ negatively, which does not foster utilization for human consumption, hence making it difficult for the fishers to obtain an acceptable prize. For example, in Denmark the tabloid press has given the fish the nickname ‘the killer slug of the sea’. Thus, branding is required, to create a positive image of the species.

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