Stop dumping sewage in the Baltic Sea!

Every year, especially during the summer, cruise and passenger ships traveling in the Baltic region release enormous amounts of wastewater directly into the Baltic Sea.  This wastewater contains, among other pollutants, nitrogen and phosphorus that contribute to eutrophication.
The dumping of ship sewage is a highly symbolic question for people around the region.  The cruise and passenger industry are seen to be profiting from tourism to the region while at the same time, through the dumping of sewage, contributing to a problem which negatively affects the very environment which not only is attracting these visitors to the Baltic Sea but is seen to be undermining the livability of the region.
Due to political entanglements and industry resistance, the planned ban on the dumping of sewage in the Baltic Sea has not yet entered into force.  Although there is not yet an explicit ban on this practice, passenger ships can either pump sewage water into the receiving stations that currently exist in all major ports, or install effective treatment plants on board.
WWF is now working to find out which operators care about the Baltic Sea’s sensitive environment enough to commit to not dump their sewage in its waters.  We have written a letter to all passenger and cruise operators in the region with a simple question for their response:
Do you confirm that the passenger ships you operate do not discharge untreated sewage* in the Baltic Sea and that sewage is either properly treated on board or fully disposed at port reception facilities **?
In mid-May, we expect to have received all the answers and will then publish the results on this website. If you want to know which operators you can trust, you are welcome to visit this site again. You can also follow on Twitter #sewagefreebaltic where we will announce when something new happens.
* As defined by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) MARPOL Annex IV
** This confirmation should assure that all sewage is either brought ashore for treatment or effectively treated on board the ship using the best available technology – i.e. ensuring that nutrients are effectively reduced (at least 70% reduction in Nitrogen and 80% reduction in Phosphorus).
 / ©: Ulf Bohman
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

Key contact

For more information on the campaign to ban waste water discharges from ships, contact: 

Ottilia Thoreson, Manager, WWF Baltic Ecoregion Programme
Tel. +46 8 624 74 15

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