Baltic cod (Gadus morhua) is the commercially most important species in the Baltic Sea. The species is facing acute threats (i.e. poor reproduction and less abundant year-classes) due to unfavourable hydrographic conditions, overfishing and predation. The Baltic Sea catchment area is heavily subjected to industrial as well as intensive agricultural effluents. Therefore, anthropogenic substances may also have a significant influence on Baltic cod recruitment. As part of a larger study (STORE—EU-FAIR 98 3959) the effects of contaminants on male cod were analysed. Two biomarkers (EROD and AChE) of exposure were measured in mature male cod caught in the Bornholm Basin in summer 1999 and 2000. In addition contents of organo-chlorines were determined in testis and liver. Elevated activities of hepatic EROD were visible in all individuals (up to 250 pmol/min/mg protein), indicating that this biomarker was induced in cod from this region. The great variation in the activity of muscular AChE (20-70 pmol/min/mg protein) suggests the presence of AChE inhibiting substances. The chemical analysis revealed higher loads of different organo-chlorine contaminants (e.g. PCBs, DDT or dieldrin). The data obtained will be discussed in regard to point sources of contamination, effects on females and reproduction success.
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