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News|26 Aug, 2008

Bottom grades for Baltic Sea states

The states around the Baltic Sea all scored a bottom grade for their marine environmental performance, according to a WWF assessment presented at the annual Baltic Sea Festival in Stockholm today. The nine countries were graded on how well they are doing on six separate areas: biodiversity, fisheries, hazardous substances, maritime transports, eutrophication, and on how well they have developed an integrated sea use management. The best grades were received by Germany, followed by Denmark, while Estonia ended up in third place.  Behind the bad over-all scores, there are, however, lights of hope. Germany received an A- on the biodiversity score for their protection of marine areas with around 40% of the country’s sea areas protected. Latvia and Lithuania have taken measures to combat illegal fishing of cod, partly by giving inspectors the mandate to impose sanctions on site. Estonia has a narrow lead in lowering the impact of hazardous substances.  – It is a shame that no country could be given a satisfactory total score, says Mats Abrahamsson, Program Director of WWF Baltic Sea Ecoregion Program. The Baltic Sea is influenced by a multitude of human activities, regulated by a patchwork of international and national regulations and authorities. What the Baltic Sea needs now is political leadership that can look beyond national or sectoral interests and take an integrated approach to solving the problems.  Also at the festival, WWF awarded Tarja Halonen, president of the Republic of Finland, with the Baltic Sea Leadership Award for “her persistent efforts to unite groups and encourage cross-border discussions on the future of the Baltic Sea”.  – We applaud Tarja Halonen and the leadership she has shown in her position as President of Finland. She has used the opportunities presented by her position to press and encourage increased political leadership and cross-border cooperation in order to save the Baltic Sea, says Mats Abrahamsson.  Finland is the only country in the region that has developed a cross-sectoral marine policy. Several other countries are now taking steps to review their marine management. Sweden scored best in the region in the Integrated Sea Use Management category for its comprehensive review of its marine management through its Marine Inquiry.  – What we need now is a holistic, integrated, cross-sectoral and ecosystem-based process that includes all countries, sectors and relevant stakeholders, says Mats Abrahamsson. We now have a window of opportunity in the area of sea use management with two current processes on the European level: the Maritime Policy and the EU Baltic Sea Strategy. There is hope for the Baltic Sea.  The poor state of the environment of the Baltic Sea has received attention this summer because of the extensive algal blooms caused by eutrophication, and for recent scientific reports on the vast dead zones on the sea bottom.  For more information, please contact: Mats Abrahamsson +46 705 821 499   Note to editors:  The 2008 Baltic Sea Scorecard For the second consecutive year, WWF and its partner organizations around the Baltic Sea is presenting a scorecard to assess how well the nine nations bordering the Baltic Sea are managing to protect and restore this fragile ecosystem to health. While the 2007 Scorecard centered on countries’ efforts to ratify and implement existing international agreements and conventions to manage and protect the Baltic Sea, this year’s Scorecard focuses more keenly on assessing whether concrete actions, necessary to achieve good environmental status for the Baltic Sea, actually have been accomplished. The full report can be downloaded here.  The Baltic Sea Festival The intention of the sixth 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 21st and 30th of August in Stockholm, Tallinn and Riga. More information on the Festival can be found here

The states around the Baltic Sea all scored a bottom grade for their marine environmental performance, according to a WWF assessment presented at the annual Baltic Sea Festival in Stockholm today. The nine countries were graded on how well they are doing on six separate areas: biodiversity, fisheries, hazardous substances, maritime transports, eutrophication, and on how well they have developed an integrated sea use management. The best grades were received by Germany, followed by Denmark, while Estonia ended up in third place.

Behind the bad over-all scores, there are, however, lights of hope. Germany received an A- on the biodiversity score for their protection of marine areas with around 40% of the country’s sea areas protected. Latvia and Lithuania have taken measures to combat illegal fishing of cod, partly by giving inspectors the mandate to impose sanctions on site. Estonia has a narrow lead in lowering the impact of hazardous substances.

– It is a shame that no country could be given a satisfactory total score, says Mats Abrahamsson, Program Director of WWF Baltic Sea Ecoregion Program. The Baltic Sea is influenced by a multitude of human activities, regulated by a patchwork of international and national regulations and authorities. What the Baltic Sea needs now is political leadership that can look beyond national or sectoral interests and take an integrated approach to solving the problems.

Also at the festival, WWF awarded Tarja Halonen, president of the Republic of Finland, with the Baltic Sea Leadership Award for “her persistent efforts to unite groups and encourage cross-border discussions on the future of the Baltic Sea”.

– We applaud Tarja Halonen and the leadership she has shown in her position as President of Finland. She has used the opportunities presented by her position to press and encourage increased political leadership and cross-border cooperation in order to save the Baltic Sea, says Mats Abrahamsson.

Finland is the only country in the region that has developed a cross-sectoral marine policy. Several other countries are now taking steps to review their marine management. Sweden scored best in the region in the Integrated Sea Use Management category for its comprehensive review of its marine management through its Marine Inquiry.

– What we need now is a holistic, integrated, cross-sectoral and ecosystem-based process that includes all countries, sectors and relevant stakeholders, says Mats Abrahamsson. We now have a window of opportunity in the area of sea use management with two current processes on the European level: the Maritime Policy and the EU Baltic Sea Strategy. There is hope for the Baltic Sea.

The poor state of the environment of the Baltic Sea has received attention this summer because of the extensive algal blooms caused by eutrophication, and for recent scientific reports on the vast dead zones on the sea bottom.

Notes:

The 2008 Baltic Sea Scorecard
For the second consecutive year, WWF and its partner organizations around the Baltic Sea is presenting a scorecard to assess how well the nine nations bordering the Baltic Sea are managing to protect and restore this fragile ecosystem to health. While the 2007 Scorecard centered on countries’ efforts to ratify and implement existing international agreements and conventions to manage and protect the Baltic Sea, this year’s Scorecard focuses more keenly on assessing whether concrete actions, necessary to achieve good environmental status for the Baltic Sea, actually have been accomplished. The full report can be downloaded here.

The Baltic Sea Festival
The intention of the sixth 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 21st and 30th of August in Stockholm, Tallinn and Riga. More information on the Festival can be found here

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