Home to rich levels of biodiversity and wildlife, the Baltic Sea is a unique marine ecosystem which also sustains the livelihoods and economies of millions of people in the nine coastal countries that call the region “home”.
Overfishing, irresponsible shipping, industrial exploitation and pressures from agriculture and forestry continue to negatively impact its sensitive environment. The Baltic Sea today is one of the most threatened marine ecosystems on the planet.
WWF’s 2009 Scorecard examines how Baltic Sea states are planning and managing sea resources and whether they are taking needed steps towards sustainable management.
No country scored the top grade, and only Germany received a B, given its progress in developing maritime spatial plans for its territorial waters and exclusive economic zone moving ahead of the other countries with its plans for the use of its sea waters. Germany is followed by Denmark, Poland, Finland and Sweden which all received a C.
These countries are all in early stages of developing a more integrated approach to sea use management.
“The report shows that the management varies widely from country to country – and could be described as a bit of a “patchwork approach”. To be able to solve the complex problems of the Baltic Sea the countries and governments must work jointly across sectors and borders,” said Lasse Gustavsson, CEO of WWF Sweden.
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia all received a grade of D because of a lack of evidence of any real results towards an integrated sea use management.
“The Baltic Sea is still one of the most threatened seas in the world. Part of the problem facing the Baltic Sea is the ‘free-for-all’ mentality that still governs our use of the sea”, said Pauli Merriman, Director WWF Baltic Ecoregion Programme. “If we are to succeed in saving our common sea for the future, we desperately need to work across countries, sectors and departments to achieve a more integrated sea use management and a holistic perspective”.
“From an ecosystem perspective, such a relatively small sea like the Baltic cannot be treated as simply a collection of national marine areas. It constitutes, in almost all respects, one single marine ecosystem and should be managed as a whole”, said Pauli Merriman.