Fishing in the city for food – the case of Stockholm

Like many large cities, Stockholm is situated at the seashore. Right in the city center, the fresh water meets the brackish waters from the Baltic Sea. Here salmon, bream, trout, zander, perch, pike, smelt, herring, and roach swim. Year-round you find fishers trying their luck throughout the city .

Early on in this project on urban fishing in Stockholm, we learnt that many Stockholm fishers eat the fish they catch. This surprised us, as we had assumed that fishers primarily released the fish back into the water, so called Catch & Release fishing. Digging further, we found that ‘urban fishing for food’ is happening all over Europe.


While fishing in the city for food is not a new topic of research, there are many questions still left unexplored.

Why dive into research on urban fishing for food?

Urban fishing for food offers many interesting entry points for research. We want to keep on exploring the phenomena of urban fishing and are asking questions on accessibility and justice, the role of fishing as a source for food and recreation, food safety and human health, ethical dimensions of the fisher-fish relationship, sustainable use of fish populations, and urban aquatic biodiversity.

Below is our most recent publication (Dec 2021), which focuses on fishing in the city for food (FCF). We used a literature review, a survey of FCF in European capitals, and examples of FCF in Stockholm to demonstrate how attention to FCF raises pertinent and interrelated questions about access to water, food, recreation, human health, animal welfare, and aquatic urban biodiversity. 

Joosse, S., Hensle, L., Boonstra, W.J., Ponzelar, C., & Olsson, J. (2021). Fishing in the city for food- a paradigmatic case of sustainability in urban blue space.  

The Project 'Urban Fishing and the Blue Commons'

Urbanfishing.org is part of the project ‘Blue Urban Commons’ (2020-2023). This project investigates how use of blue urban spaces, such as canals, lakes, ponds and rivers, can help make city life more sustainable. The value and function of urban ecosystems for sustainable life has recently gained attraction, but much less attention is given to blue urban spaces. There is still a lot to learn: about the aquatic ecologies in the city, and how urban dwellers use and depend on these ecologies for recreation, food, and their wellbeing.


The research in this project will investigate questions about the aquatic ecological status of urban blue space, its access and use, and distribution of benefits to urban dwellers. City fishing in the Swedish capitol of Stockholm is used as a case study. The project integrates ecological and social scientific methods and brings together an interdisciplinary team of scholars from Uppsala and Stockholm University and The Swedish University for Agricultural Sciences.


The project is funded by FORMAS, the Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development. Results of the research will inform urban planning that aims to contribute to sustainable and fair use of blue urban space as common property.

Other publications