A Sewage Free 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.
 
In 2010 the International Maritime Organization (IMO) took a welcome decision to ban the discharge of sewage from cruise and passenger ships in the Baltic Sea – with the requirement that it would only go into effect once adequate port reception facilities were made available. 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 treat this on board. While some ships do provide some treatment prior to discharge, the treatment processes used in most cases does not effectively reduce nutrient discharges (at least 70% reduction in nitrogen and 80% reduction in phosphorus) which means that these discharges continue to contribute to the problem of eutrophication in the Baltic Sea. 
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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 is attracting these visitors.
 
In an effort to better understand this situation, WWF contacted over 50 passenger ship operators in the region with a simple question: “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 [1]?”

You can now dowload this latest list of cruise and passenger ship operators who have made a commitment to cease dumping their sewage in the Baltic Sea.  If you want to know which operators you can trust, you are welcome to visit this site again as WWF will continue to update this list and make it available online for public review.  We therefore welcome the additional inclusion of cruise and ferry operators who wish to demonstrate their responsibility to be part of the solution by committing to cease the practice of sewage discharges in the sensitive Baltic Sea.
 
[1] This confirmation was asked to 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). 
 

* 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 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
E-mail: ottilia.thoreson@wwf.se

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