A recent report warns that the Baltic Sea is facing significant obstacles in terms of climate change and biodiversity.
A recent report warns that the Baltic Sea is encountering significant difficulties as a result of the climate emergency and loss of biodiversity. Meanwhile, Sweden’s coastguard is working to mitigate the effects of an oil spill along the southern coast.
The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (Helcom) reported on Tuesday that there has been minimal improvement in the well-being of the body of water from 2016 to 2021, making it the most thorough audit conducted thus far.
The report stated that fish populations were at critically low levels and that the sea was still facing stress from pollution, land utilization, and resource extraction.
On Monday the Swedish coastguard extracted about 20 cubic metres of oil from the Baltic, bringing the total to about 50 cubic metres, after a ferry ran aground three times off Hörvik in southern Sweden.
On Tuesday, the coastguard stated that they are aiming to recover the Marco Polo on Wednesday and transport it to a port in Karlshamn in order to avoid potential oil spills.
The Baltic Sea is bordered by nine countries, including Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Russia. Its shallow, low-saline, and brackish waters make it a distinct marine habitat. However, these characteristics also make it highly susceptible to pollution and environmental changes.
The 2023 report on the condition of the Baltic Sea revealed that, although there have been attempts to enhance its environment, there has been no improvement in overall conditions and some indicators have even deteriorated.
Jannica Haldin, the deputy executive secretary of Helcom and coordinator of the report, emphasized the significant problems faced by the Baltic Sea due to human actions. The report serves as a reminder of the need for cross-border collaboration, a move towards truly sustainable practices, and a sustained commitment to long-term solutions.
The report discovered that the ecosystem has been negatively impacted by human actions such as pollution, overfishing, and habitat destruction, resulting in a decrease in biodiversity.
The report stated that eutrophication, a primarily human-caused occurrence where an abundance of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus leads to the growth of algae, was a concern.
The report discovered that the poor environmental conditions in the Baltic region were negatively impacting the success of both the fishing and tourism industries.
Some positive developments were observed. Decreases in the amount of nutrients and harmful substances, along with efforts towards protecting biodiversity and preserving nature, have shown positive results in certain areas of the Baltic Sea. Additionally, several previously heavily polluted areas have been cleared in the most recent evaluation. There has also been an increase in the proportion of protected marine areas in the region.
According to the report, the effects of the climate crisis were becoming more severe, leading to less ice coverage, more severe weather, and warmer water temperatures.
In 2021, Helcom created a plan for the Baltic Sea that aims to enhance biodiversity, decrease environmental stressors, and promote the overall well-being of the ecosystem.
Haldin stated that the current evaluation indicates that the rate of biodiversity recovery is insufficient. He also pointed out that the negative state outlined in the report is a direct consequence of society’s actions and priorities.
She stated that the success of maintaining and improving the function of the Baltic Sea ecosystem hinges on our ability to effectively manage our activities in a sustainable manner, promoting resilience in both the short and long term.