Congratulations on the new assignment. You now have a unique opportunity to change the Baltic Sea environment for the better.
The Baltic Sea is a unique but also very sensitive marine ecosystem. For more than a century it has been under tremendous stress from human activities. We now pay a heavy price for this, in the form of algal blooms, decreasing fish stocks and other symptoms.
In 2009, the European union strategy for the Baltic Sea region (EUSBSR) became the first comprehensive EU strategy to target a specific macro-region, and is now closely knit to the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) and other regional and national initiatives. It’s important that the EU Commission maintain its key role in this process.
You will of course not be able to solve all the environmental problems of the Baltic Sea during your term of office. The marine ecosystem recovers slowly.
But it does recover – if we let it.
Each and every measure, each concrete action, is of great importance. The decisions you and your colleagues make now, will determine in what state the Baltic Sea is, when we pass it over to our children and grandchildren.
We would like to help you in this endeavour. From the Baltic Eye perspective, here are some important issues concerning the Baltic Sea, that we want to bring to your attention.
Sincerely, Baltic Eye
Cod, herring and sprat are the three main commercial fish stocks of the Baltic Sea. Scientific studies show that Baltic fish stocks can increase rapidly if good environmental conditions for fish reproduction are combined with sustainable fisheries.
The Baltic cod stock structure has changed dramatically, with huge over-representation of small cod and very few big individuals.
Eutrophication is the single-most severe problem for the Baltic Sea environment, causing increased algal blooms and expanding dead zones. The total area of dead zones in the Baltic Sea has grown from 5 000 to 60 000 square kilometres during the past century.
A number of policies have been implemented, including BSAP, the Urban Wastewater Treatment, Nitrates and Water Framework Directive. Point nutrient sources from industry and households has been successfully reduced. There is still much work left to be done regarding leaks from septic systems and agricultural lands.
The chemical industry is growing rapidly. Daily, new chemicals are added to the millions already in use. They are included in plastics, children’s toys, furniture, clothes, electronic devices and such. Many of these contaminants are harmful to people and the environment, and a significant part end up in the water, sediment and animals of the seas.
There’s a growing concern in the EU and worldwide about negative health and environmental impacts caused by endocrine disruptors. The EU Commissions proposal for science-based criteria for endocrine disruptors has been extremely delayed. This delay poses a serious risk for humans and animals.
Conservation of the biological diversity is crucial for sustainable use of the sea. It’s highly worrying that biodiversity in coastal areas and open seas is still negatively effected by human activities. The habitats directive, Natura 2000, is a powerful tool for protecting biodiversity in the Baltic Sea region.
Many protected areas in the Baltic are poorly managed. According to the HELCOM ”Overview of the status of the network of Baltic Sea marine protected areas” (2013), shipping and navigation, harvesting, fishing and land-based activities are the most important activities still not regulated within protected areas in the Baltic Sea region.
Baltic Eye is a new form om scientific think-tank at Baltic Sea Centre, Stockholm university. Through Baltic Eye, scientists and communicators collaborate to develop and spread knowledge, contributing to a healthier Baltic Sea.
Baltic Eye work in favor of science-based decisions and measures, aimed at improving the Baltic Sea environment.
Contact: Helena Markstedt, Head of Communications, Baltic Eye
Phone: +46-8-16 27 01