Shipping companies commit to wastewater discharge ban in the Baltic



Posted on 17 June 2007  | 
Waste water released from cruise ships and other vessels discharge hundreds of tons of nitrogen and phosphorus into the Baltic each year, contributing to large-scale toxic algae blooms and a reduction of water quality.
© Ulf BohmanEnlarge
Stockholm, Sweden – Thirteen shipping companies operating in the Baltic Sea have pledged to stop the disposal of untreated wastewater at sea.

The pledge follows the success of a recent WWF campaign urging more than 50 passenger and ferry companies in the Baltic Sea to voluntarily dispose of their wastewater at onshore facilities or to treat them properly on board.

“We hope that the leadership of the companies that have committed to the wastewater discharge ban will inspire other companies to do the same,” said Dr Sampsa Vilhunen, Head of WWF-Finland’s Marine Programme.

While encouraged by the results of the campaign, a new WWF survey reveals that most shipping companies operating in the Baltic Sea continue the polluting practice of wasterwater dumping.

It is estimated that about 1.6 billion litres of “grey water” (from toilets, showers and onboard cleaning) are produced by the ships each year, with a considerable amount discharged into the sea. This contributes to large-scale toxic algal blooms and a reduction of water quality. Waste from ships also carries bacteria, viruses and other pathogens, as well as detergents and heavy metals.

“We are dismayed that up to now so few companies seem to recognize the importance of safeguarding the Baltic Sea,” Dr Vilhunen added.

“Knowing how sensitive the Baltic is there is simply no excuse for allowing the continued untreated discharge of wastewater directly into the sea.”

WWF is urging shipping companies to invest in technical systems which could efficiently remove nutrients from grey water onboard, and to use phosphate-free detergents aboard ships, which would dramatically reduce the amount of phosphorus in their waste waters — a major contributor of algae blooms.

At the same time, WWF is encouraging people travelling by cruise or ferry in the Baltic Sea this summer to make an effort to travel with companies who have taken the pledge not to pollute the Baltic Sea. International cruise and ferry companies that are based outside the Baltic Sea region — but frequently visit Baltic Sea ports during the summer season — should also make the pledge.

Those who have booked travel on a cruise or ferry company which is not on WWF’s list are encouraged to contact the company and ask them to change their policy.

END NOTES:

• The 13 shipping companies that have committed to the wastewater discharge ban include: Birka Line (Finland); Bornholmstrafiken (Denmark); Eckerö Line (Finland); Hurtigruten (Germany); Lindaliini (Estonia); Molslinien (Denmark); Nordic Jetline Finland (Finland); Peter Deilmann Reederei (Germany); Rederi AB Gotland and Destination Gotland (Sweden); Seawind Line (Finland); Silja Line (Finland); Tallink (Estonia); and Viking Line ABP (Finland).

• WWF’s Baltic Programme works to decrease the amount of nutrients entering the Baltic by promoting best practices for sustainable agriculture, the reduction of harmful EU subsidies and the restoration of wetlands.

For more information:
Dr Sampsa Vilhunen, Head, Marine Programme
WWF-Finland
Tel: +358 40 550 3854
E-mail: sampsa.vilhunen@wwf.fi

Waste water released from cruise ships and other vessels discharge hundreds of tons of nitrogen and phosphorus into the Baltic each year, contributing to large-scale toxic algae blooms and a reduction of water quality.
© Ulf Bohman Enlarge

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