Future Trends in the Baltic Sea
|January 25 2011|
With increasingly fierce competition for space and resources, the Baltic Sea is one of the world’s most threatened marine ecoystems. WWF and RSA’s report explores how conflicting demands on the Baltic Sea can be resolved.
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. At the same time, the size of the ships is predicted to increase substantially.
The wind energy sector is also expecting enormous growth, increasing today’s capacity of about 400 MW by 6,000% to 25,000 MW. 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. Some sectors are predicted to be quite stable such as oil and gas development and military activities.
Looking at all sectors together it becomes clear that the Baltic Sea is facing an extensive expansion of human activities within the coming 20 years with a projected growth of several hundred percent for many sectors. For many sectors, however, strategic plans still have not been developed which makes it impossible to predict the growth and areal needs of these sectors and to give a clear picture of the total growth and future trends in the Baltic Sea.
Until now, allocation of space in the marine environment has been done on a single-sector basis, mainly without a plan-based holistic approach and giving little or no consideration to objectives from other sectors, to the cumulative pressure on the ecosystem from all human uses together, or to conservation requirements based on what the ecosystem can sustain. If we continue working in this way, it will lead to increased competition and conflicts over marine space, with a high risk of overuse of marine resources.
In addition to the pressures from place-based maritime activities, the already stressed Baltic Sea ecosystem is exposed to further pressures from diffuse sources like agricultural and industrial pollution and climate change. So far there has been no attempt to do a holistic and strategic plan for all sectors and human uses of the Baltic sea together. The lack of integrated planning and management in many cases results in counteracting decisions that hinder sustainable development in the region.
We have now reached a level where the cumulative pressures from human use risk exceeding the capacity of the ecosystem. To make space for marine species and habitats as well as sustainable human use, we have to start planning and managing our use of the sea in a better way. We have to move beyond the current fragmented patchwork of governance models and regulatory frameworks that still predominates our approach to the management of the Baltic Sea on the local, national and international level towards a more holistic and integrated approach.
As this report clearly shows there is an urgent need for a better, more integrated, planning and management of the Baltic Sea. WWF sees Integrated Sea Use Management as a long term, strategic, inclusive and transparent process to minimize environmental impacts from resource use and to maximize benefits to society.
PDF format, 15MB, 40Pages.
Fisheries and shipping are activities that we are all familiar with in the Baltic Sea, but the sea offers resources for many more activities including energy generation and transmission, resource extraction, tourism and recreation. It is also acting as a repository for excess nutrients and other substances from agriculture, industry and other human activities.
Finding a balance between economic, social and environmental quality is a challenge for governments in the Baltic Sea region. At the national level, governments have developed their own environmental and development policies. At the sea basin level, the contracting parties to the Helsinki Convention (HELCOM) have agreed to improve the environmental status of the sea by 2021 in line with targets set within the 2007 Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP).
At a European level, the EU Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP) was introduced in 2007, with the objective to integrate different maritime-related policies. The EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive is the environmental pillar of the Integrated Maritime Policy with an aim to achieve good environmental status of the EU's marine waters by 2020 and to protect the resource base upon which marine-related economic and social activities depend.
The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region was adopted in 2009 to make the region more environmentally sustainable, prosperous, accessible and attractive, safe and secure. ...
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