The Baltic Sea needs greater protection, warn conservationists

2010 - 02 - 10
The Baltic Sea needs greater protection, warn conservationists

A total of 138 proposals and pledges to protect the Baltic Sea were published today in Helsinki by the participants of the Summit of 11 Baltic countries. In their speeches, however, the national representatives mostly limited themselves to general calls and information on already existing measures.

The Baltic Sea covers an area of ​​413,000 square kilometres, and about 90 million people live around it. It is one of the most polluted and endangered seas in the world. This is due to heavy shipping traffic, waste discharge, agricultural fertilisers, and overfishing. For the time being, there is no international agreement regulating the protection of this sea.

Today, organising Finland called for specific steps to be taken. Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaité came forward with a proposal for a UN resolution on the removal of chemical warfare agents from the Baltic. It is estimated that there are 40,000 tonnes of this material in the sea. These are mostly poisonous gases and incendiary bombs apparently dropped by the Royal Air Force during World War II after its attacks on German cities. According to Swedish television, the Russian Navy reportedly dumped the remains of chemical and nuclear weapons into the Baltic Sea in the 1990s.

The meeting was attended, for example, by Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who announced that by 2015 all the sewage from St. Petersburg would be treated before being released to the Baltic Sea. Similar measures are to be taken by the Kaliningrad region.

The Polish Deputy Minister of the Economy Wladimir Pawlak called for greater financial support from the European Union for national measures. He estimated the costs of the comprehensive reconstruction of Polish sewage plants and pipelines at eight billion euros. Poland is one of the biggest polluters of the Baltic Sea according to the Baltic Conservation Commission (HELCOM).

Other Baltic countries are planning measures to improve the situation as well. Latvia will fully ban phosphates in detergents. Estonia will prepare a new sea protection law with specific measures and goals by 2020. Copenhagen and St. Petersburg should also have sewage treatment plants to treat wastewater from ships before it is released into the sea

In addition to politicians, the summit was attended by representatives of companies, schools, non-profit organisations, and scientific institutions, and they were the ones who came up with the majority of ideas for sea protection. “Europe, as one of the most developed regions in the world, should pay much more attention to clean water in seas and rivers. One of the measures should definitely be an increase in pollution fee for industrial enterprises so that the release of pollutants into rivers ceases to be profitable for companies,” said Director Dalibor Dostal of the European Wildlife conservation organization.

The next government-level talks are scheduled for May in Moscow.

Photo: Profimedia

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