Banning ship waste in the Baltic



Posted on 19 April 2007  | 
Rocky seashore. Baltic Sea, Finland.
© WWF-Canon / Mauri RautkariEnlarge
Helsinki, Finland – With the summer holiday season rapidly approaching, WWF is calling on shipping companies operating in the Baltic to protect the marine environment by halting the practice of dumping polluted waste water into the sea.

According to the global conservation organization, cruise ships and ferry boats operating in the Baltic Sea carry up to 80 million passengers annually. Overall shipping activity is expected to increase significantly in the coming years.

Polluting the waters
Waste water released from shipping vessels currently discharge up to 460 tons of nitrogen and 150 tons of phosphorus into the Baltic each year, contributing 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.

“The discharge of waste water from ships poses a serious threat to the Baltic Sea’s marine environment and coastal areas,” says Sampsa Vilhunen, head of WWF-Finland’s Marine Programme.

“Knowing how sensitive the Baltic is, there is simply no excuse for allowing the continued untreated discharge of waste water directly into the sea. Since many countries already forbid small pleasure boats to discharge their waste, it hard to believe that we do not hold these enormous cruise and ferries to the same standard.”

Discharge ban needed
WWF is urging the shipping industry operating in the Baltic Sea to voluntarily commit to a ban on all waste water dumping at sea, including international waters where it is currently legal — and to certify that waste is either properly treated on board or disposed at onshore facilities.

“By making a pledge to stop discharging waste into the sea, shipping companies can show just how serious they are about protecting the Baltic’s unique marine environment,” says Lasse Gustavsson, Director of WWF’s Baltic Ecoregion Programme.

In June 2007, WWF will publish a list of companies that have agreed to the voluntary ban, setting an example for others to follow.

END NOTES:
• Eutrophication is a process where bodies of water, such as lakes, estuaries, or slow-moving streams, receive excess nutrients that stimulate excessive plant growth. This enhanced plant growth, or algal bloom, reduces the water’s oxygen supply. This can lead to the death of marine life, including fish species.

• 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 further information:
Lasse Gustavsson, Director
WWF Baltic Programme
Tel: +46 70 105 30 55
E-mail: lasse.gustavsson@wwf.se

Dr Sampsa Vilhunen, Head of Marine Programme
WWF-Finland
Tel: +358 40 550 3854
E-mail: sampsa.vilhunen@wwf.fi
Rocky seashore. Baltic Sea, Finland.
© WWF-Canon / Mauri Rautkari Enlarge
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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