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News|24 Aug, 2010

Uncontrolled growth threatens the Baltic Sea

Annotation 2019-11-22 135006

The competition for space and resources in the Baltic Sea is rapidly growing. Many sectors are expected to grow with several hundred percent until the year 2030. A WWF report that was presented today, “Future trends in the Baltic Sea”, shows for the first time ever a projection of trends and plans of all the sectors using the Baltic Sea over the next 20 years.

One of the most striking examples of this projected growth is shown by the shipping sector. The Baltic Sea is already one of the most densely trafficked sea regions in the world. Over the next 20 years, shipping is expected to double in terms of the number of ships.

The wind energy sector is also expecting enormous growth, increasing today’s capacity by more than 6,000%. Other human uses of the sea expecting growth include tourism and recreation, port capacity, electric cables and pipelines, as well as physical exploitation of the coastline and sea bottom.

“The situation we have today is the result of many years of bad planning and lack of leadership,” says Ottilia Thoreson, Manager of the WWF Baltic Ecoregion Programme. “If we continue in this way, it will lead to even more competition and conflicts between sectors, resulting in even more pressure on the marine resources the Baltic Sea provides us with.”

Today, none of the open basins in the Baltic Sea have a “good ecosystem health status” according to a recent study by Helcom, the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission. Only ten out of 24 ecosystem services are operating properly.

“As long as the use of the sea is managed sector by sector and country by country, it will be impossible to take the hard decisions that are necessary“, says Ottilia Thoreson. ”We believe that this is one of the reasons why it has been so difficult to save the Baltic Sea”.

There is also a large economic benefit to improved sea use planning. A report that was recently released by the European Commission concludes that better maritime planning in European waters could generate as much as 1.3 billion euro in 2020 and up to 1.8 billion in 2030.

In the “Future Trends” report, WWF concludes that the only way to avoid chaos in the Baltic Sea, is a more integrated approach to sea use management and suggests some concrete steps that should be taken (see below).

Related links
For more information, please contact:

Ottilia Thoreson, Programme Manager, WWF Baltic Ecoregion Programme
Tel: +46 (0)8- 624 74 15

Note to editors:

The Baltic Sea Festival
The intention of the eighth Baltic Sea Festival is to bring together people of the Baltic Sea region with an interest in classical music, environment, and the concept of leadership. The Festival takes place between the 23th of August and the 2nd of September in Stockholm. More information on the Festival can be found at:

The Baltic Sea Leadership Award
WWF believes that what we need is true leadership in the Baltic Sea, leadership that goes beyond words to deliver real results and examples for other to follow. In 2007, WWF instituted an award, the WWF Baltic Sea Leadership Award. WWF bestows this award when the organisation is inspired and moved by specific acts of true leadership – providing the rest of us with great examples to celebrate and demonstrate as examples for others. This year the Award was presented to Poul Degnbol, Head of the Advisory Programme at ICES (the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) and former Scientific Advisor at the European Commission, with the following motivation:

“WWF applauds Poul Degnbol for taking the initiative during his five years within the European Commission to champion the need for, and benefits of, sustainability and integrating the ecosystem based approach to fisheries management within the Common Fisheries Policy which has made a real difference for the Baltic Sea. WWF also recognizes his leadership to advocate for enhanced stakeholder engagement and a more transparent regional decision-making approach to fisheries management based on scientific advice.”

WWF’s recommendations for the way forward
WWF believes that we have to move towards a more integrated approach to sea use management. As the next steps, WWF recommends

  • That the highest level of government take the lead in developing an integrated sea use management. As long as the process continues to be conducted sector by sector, ministry by ministry, true integration can never happen.
  • That heads of governments take part in defining common integrated and ecosystem based goals for the management of the Baltic Sea. This includes setting realistic goals for all sectors that together fits within the capacity boundaries of the ecosystem.
  • That governments take action to clearly define the ecosystem capacity boundaries. These can be based on HELCOM’s BSAP and the Initial Holistic Assessment of the ecosystem health of the Baltic Sea, as well as the EU definition of Good Environmental Status.

That governments take part in creating national, regional and international governance structures that can ensure that maritime policies and decisions are integrated and synergistic. This includes:

  • That the Baltic Sea states work to create a regional platform to facilitate and ensure cooperation and integration of sea use planning and management between national bodies.
  • That every Baltic Sea state appoint one national body to have the overarching responsibility and mandate to coordinate and balance between different interests, policies and jurisdictional arrangements for the entire sea, its resources and the activities occurring in the sea.
  • That every Baltic Sea state adopt legislation that ensures that ISUM processes are organised across sectoral, administrative and national levels, cover all sea areas, and include all stakeholders at all relevant stages.

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