Human Ecology


The article being analyzed is titled “seals, birds, and humans compete for fish in the Baltic sea” which is dated November 13th, 2017. It reports on a study that was conducted following concern that in Sweden and several other parts of Europe, fish and birds are competing for fish resources with other humans. This study is done in the Baltic Sea. A professor of ecology, environmental, and plant sciences from the Stockholm University, Sture Hansson, undertook to look at the whole issue from a scientific standpoint. He admits that the issue of the increased populations of seals and the fish-eating birds in the Baltic has been widely debated. This argument arises from the concern that such large numbers of predators may have considerable effects on the fish population. This threat can be described as two-fold, first resulting from the value of fish as a nutrient-rich food, and secondly as a result of the recreational value obtained from angling. The professor, however, states that such arguments have only been mere assumptions with no credible information to back them up. It is for this reason that the professor takes the initiative to look at the problem from a scientific viewpoint.

The information on the birds’ and the seals’ fish consumption is an estimation with no clear description of the methods applied to come to such an estimate. It, therefore, raises a lot of questions on the credibility of such information. Of course, stating that the seals are the primary fish-eating mammals can be accepted as it could be information from a different primary source; it is however not cited hence also disputable. The same case applies to the information that the seals’ consumption is approximately the same as that of all the birds together (Stockholm University, 2017). The humans, on the other hand, are said to be responsible for catching three to four times the number of fish than the seals and birds combined. This again raises the issue of the credibility of such information. Was it observational, sampling?

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Species which are most impacted include the pike, perch, pikeperch, salmon, brown trout, vendace, and whitefish. However, the conclusion that these species are impacted by seals and birds based on the knowledge that they are affected by fishing activities lacks scientific accuracy. The eel population from this area has also dramatically declined for what the author calls, “unknown reasons.” The solutions offered by this article on dealing with this issue that threatens the fish species include implementation of future management plans. Such plans should be done keeping in mind the impacts of seal and birds which are the primary cormorants, on the fish stocks. Problems such as angling and fishing activities would have been avoided in the first place by controlling such activities through the local laws.

The lessons to learn here is that human activities can adversely affect the ecosystem. The balance between the predators and the prey is also of concern. Solutions that can assist with this problem include establishing of more marine protected areas. Trawling is also discouraged where huge nets are dragged through the ocean scooping up every organism in its way; such practices result in wasteful bycatch. In some places, such fishing has been banned. Other effective programs include worldwide catch shares, which is a system of fishing management which allows the replenishment of fish by avoiding a sudden collapse such as the one being experienced at the Baltic. Finally, one of the most important and effective methods is the mass education of the public to ensure that they understand the importance of conserving the fish. Practices should also have been employed to scare away the seals from the region to give the fish in the area to thrive.


Stockholm University. (2017, November 13). Seals, birds and humans compete for fish in the Baltic Sea. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 15, 2017 from


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