Marine Protected Areas
Marine Protected Areas are an effective way of protecting parts of the oceans from fishing and other maritime activities in order to maintain ecosystem services and give ecosystems a chance to recover. Nations agreed under the Convention on Biological Diversity to protect 10% of the marine ecoregions by 2012, a goal eventually delayed.
At current around 12 percent of the Baltic Sea is protected, mainly under the European Union Natura 2000 network. In addition, marine national parks exist and other coastal protected areas. Most of the Natura 2000 sites are also designated under HELCOM system of Baltic Sea Protected Areas, indicating the aspiration of countries to provide protection also to the Baltic Sea specific species and habitats.
Most of these sites, however, are poorly or not at all managed. Only about 13% of the marine protected areas actually have any kind of management plan. In other areas – and sometimes even inside areas having a management plan - destructive fishing, fisheries with high by-catch rates, dredging and other unsustainable activities are still common and allowed. So, in fact most designated MPAs are far from being well-protected. To safeguard biodiversity, a minimum of 30 per cent of the Baltic Sea should be effectively protected coupled with a comprehensive management plan.
Based on our findings during the 2011 expedition in the Baltic Sea, Oceana proposes the creation of nine new marine protected areas. These include offshore waters and host habitats and species that are not sufficiently covered by the current network of protected areas despite being vulnerable to many human activities and in particular to bottom trawling. Learn more in our report or see the map.