Oceana proposes to increase up to 20% the protected marine surface of the Baltic Sea
Today Oceana published new proposals for the protection of twelve areas in the Baltic Sea and Kattegat.
22 March 2013
Marta Madina ( [email protected] )
All the proposed areas include vulnerable, threatened or declining species or communities which need immediate protection.
Oceana is proposing new marine protected areas (MPAs) in order to enhance the status of the Baltic Sea, whose ecosystems are badly disturbed. The twelve areas proposed are situated in Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Poland, and some of them are shared between two countries. If the initiative is approved, one fifth of the Baltic Sea would become protected, a huge step in the preservation of this sea.
The benthic species and communities are underpinning the selection of the areas, both based on Oceana’s own findings, but also on existing literature. All the sites include vulnerable, threatened or declining species or communities, which deserve immediate protection, as human-made pressures have threatened their existence. The status of the Baltic Sea is poor due to human activities, such as unsustainable fisheries, eutrophication, and hazardous substances.
“Through our two at-sea expeditions in the Baltic Sea and Kattegat, we have documented vulnerable and threatened species and communities, which are not protected by the EU Habitat Directives, and which national governments were not even aware of their existence in their waters,” says Hanna Paulomäki, Oceana’s Baltic Sea project manager. “These ecologically important sites deserve immediate protection, and we urge the governments to act now before it is too late, and irreversible damages occur”.
Oceana is proposing the enlargement of the existing MPA in the Hanko Peninsula (FI), as well as eleven new ones: central part of Bothnian Sea (SE), Bothnian Bay Deep (SE), Ulkokrunni and Merikalla (FI), Bogskär (FI), South of Åland Islands (FI), Klints Bank (SE), Middle Bank (SE/PL), Little Belt (DK), Kattegat Trench (DK/SE), Marstrandsskärgården (SE), and the northern part of the Sound (DK/SE).
The proposals cover both coastal and offshore areas, and will increase the total cover of marine protected areas in the Baltic Sea from current 12% to about 20%, which is an essential step towards creating an ecologically coherent network of MPAs as was already agreed by HELCOM in 2003. Besides proposing new areas, better management of the new areas as well as the protection of the existing ones is on the agenda in order to obtain a better state of the whole sea.
“The network is still far behind of this target and declaring new marine protected areas now is eventimelier as the Baltic Sea countries are about to evaluate the progress made in implementing this and other agreed actions to save the Baltic in October this year,” concludes Paulomäki.