Baltic Sea states behind schedule on environment protection
Implementation of the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) is lagging far behind the agreed timetable in many important areas. Protection of the Baltic Sea marine environment is still lacking concrete decisive actions. These are two main conclusion of a report produced for WWF before the HELCOM Ministerial Meeting in Moscow 20 May.
The BSAP was signed by environment ministers in Krakow in 2007 and the purpose of the Ministerial Meeting in Moscow is to follow up on this plan. As the WWF report now reveals, the plan has lost momentum and lacks progress in many important areas:
Eutrophication is seen as the biggest threat to the Baltic Sea environment, with run-off from agriculture being the single biggest source of pollutants. Still, many countries lag behind on measures to reduce farm run-off. One example is the establishment of a list of hot spots concerning animal farms for extensive rearing of cattle, poultry and pigs that should have been done one year ago. In most countries this action is delayed and only Finland reports to have reviewed them. Measures aimed at substitution of phosphates in laundry detergents is another example of a very simple but important commitment, which has not yet been met by all countries. Today, only Sweden and Germany have banned phosphorus in laundry detergents and Sweden also in dishwasher detergents.
With regards to hazardous substances there is still a lack of solid baseline data about levels and sources of priority substances.
On maritime safety, implementation of actions to reduce risks from ships’ ballast water in the Baltic Sea, as well as baseline surveys of prevailing environmental conditions in major ports are late. Also, much more is needed in terms of upgrading of the port facilities to receive sewage and ship generated wastes.
Among measures to protect biodiversity, management plans for nature protection areas as well as several fish species have reportedly not been developed. Even if more than 10 percent of the Baltic Sea area is now protected, these areas do not live up to the agreed requirements on being representative and providing enough protection for threatened species.
The WWF report also highlights the late arrival of data and in many cases the complete lack of adequate information. According to the report, the information available is not of high enough quality to allow stakeholders to assess whether implementation is making progress as agreed.
“We believe that the ministers had good ambitions when they signed the BSAP in 2007” , - says Mats Abrahamsson, Director of the WWF Baltic Ecoregion Programme. - “What happened is that they were not able to convince their governments when they got back home. In many cases the ambitions have been compromised by other interests. The only thing that can save the Baltic Sea is an expression of leadership from the highest level of government. We don’t need more commitments – we need action!”
For more information, please contact our press-office (495) 727-09-39 to put you through with the following who will be available for questions before and at the Helcom Ministerial Meeting press conference, Thursday 20 May at 13.15, Hotel Baltschug Kempinski Moscow:
- Mats Abrahamsson, Director, WWF Baltic Ecoregion Programme
- Ottilia Thoreson, Programme Manager, WWF Baltic Ecoregion Programme
- Dr. Sampsa Vilhunen, Head of Marine Programme, WWF Finland
- Anne Brax, Communications Director, WWF Finland