Stressed Baltic faces uncontrolled growth | WWF

Stressed Baltic faces uncontrolled growth

Posted on
24 August 2010
Stockholm, Sweden:  The Baltic, one of the world's most stressed seas, faces uncontrolled growth in demands for space and resources over the next 20 years, according to WWF projections released this week. 

Future trends in the Baltic Sea details many sectors growing several hundred per cent, highlighting the inadequacies of sector by sector and country by country planning.

Taking shipping as an example, the number of ships plying the Baltic is expected to double in the next two decades, as will be the cargo carried.  Cruise ship use of the Baltic will increase several fold.  While the number of ports will remain constant, many will increase their size and capacity and more dredging is expected as a result. 

The increased shipping will need to be more careful of wurling windmill blades, with the wind energy sector expected to increase today’s capacity by more than 6,000%.  Anchors will also be more likely to encounter electric cables and pipelines.

“The situation we have today is the result of many years of bad planning and lack of leadership,” says Ottilia Thoreson, Manager of the Baltic Ecoregion Programme at WWF-Sweden.  “If we continue in this way, it will lead to even more competition and conflicts between sectors, resulting in even more pressure on the marine resources the Baltic Sea provides us with.”

One area that needs growth, Marine Protected Areas, is hardly assured of it.  With only 12 percent currently protected, WWF estimates an additional 20 percent of the Baltic's area is required to help in restoring the sea to health.

Today, none of the open basins in the Baltic Sea have a “good ecosystem health status” according to a recent study by Helcom, the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission. Of 24 ecosystem services provided by the Baltic Sea, less than half were operating properly.

“As long as the use of the sea is managed sector by sector and country by country, it will be impossible to take the hard decisions that are necessary“, says Ottilia Thoreson. ”We believe that this is one of the reasons why it has been so difficult to save the Baltic Sea”.

There is also a large economic benefit to improved sea use planning. A report that was recently released by the European Commission concludes that better maritime planning in European waters could generate as much as 1.3 billion euro in 2020 and up to 1.8 billion in 2030.

In the “Future Trends” report, WWF concludes that the only way to avoid chaos in the Baltic Sea is a more integrated approach to sea use management

The report was issued during this year's Baltic Sea Festival.   n 2007, WWF instituted an award, the WWF Baltic Sea Leadership Award. WWF bestows this award when the organisation is inspired and moved by specific acts of true leadership – providing the rest of us with great examples to celebrate and demonstrate as examples for others. This year the Award was presented to Poul Degnbol, Head of the Advisory Programme at ICES (the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) and former Scientific Advisor at the European Commission, with the following motivation:

“WWF applauds Poul Degnbol for taking the initiative during his five years within the European Commission to champion the need for, and benefits of, sustainability and integrating the ecosystem based approach to fisheries management within the Common Fisheries Policy which has made a real difference for the Baltic Sea. WWF also recognizes his leadership to advocate for enhanced stakeholder engagement and a more transparent regional decision-making approach to fisheries management based on scientific advice.”

For more information, please contact:
Ottilia Thoreson, Programme Manager, WWF Baltic Ecoregion Programme
Tel: +46 (0)8- 624 74 15

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