Cod in the Baltic Sea is assessed and managed as two separate stocks, i.e. eastern and western Baltic cod. The eastern Baltic cod has recently started to recover after several decades of severe depletion. In the present study, we suggest that the recovery of the eastern Baltic cod population has also substantially increased cod abundance in a specific area of the adjacent western Baltic management unit. This is investigated through long time-series of spatially resolved stock assessment data supplemented by genetic analyses of origin of the cod currently found in the transition area between the two populations. Due to immigrating cod from the east, there are currently large spatial differences in cod abundance and mean weight in the western Baltic management unit that raise new management concerns. First, the high abundance of cod of eastern origin found in the western Baltic management unit can mask the relatively poor state of the western Baltic cod population. Second, the current fishing mortality estimates for the entire western Baltic management unit, used as basis for fisheries management, are difficult to interpret as these are highly influenced by mixing of biological populations and the spatial distribution of fisheries.
Ices Journal of Marine Science, 2014, Vol 71, Issue 6, p. 1458-1466