Oceana and the city of Helsingborg join forces to protect the marine environment in the swedish Sound

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The existing marine reserve in the northern part of the Sound should be expanded to protect vital and fragile species and habitats.


April 27, 2012
Madrid
Contact:
Marta Madina ( mmadina@oceana.org )




Oceana, the largest international marine conservation organization, and the city of Helsingborg, Sweden, joined forces in order to enhance the protection of the sensitive benthic habitats in the northern part of the Sound. The area, known to be an important home to many commercial fish, like cod and flounder, boasts a high diversity of species and communities.

The area north of Ven island has been studied by the city of Helsingborg for more than 20 years and by Oceana during its 2011 expedition, after which the conservation organization proposed the area be protected. Both are concerned about the recent signs of decline of the important Haploops- and horse mussel-communities which are maintaining the diversity and the ecosystem services in the area.

In the past week marine biologists from Oceana and the city of Helsingborg have been studying the bottom living organisms of the Sound. Underwater videos and bottom samples have provided a first impression of the benthic communities’ situation in spring 2012.

The Swedish municipalities of Helsingborg and Landskrona are cooperating to expand the Knähaken marine reserve in the northern Sound, which would mean connecting it to the famous deep bottoms of Ven. In this context the whole Sound could be a marine reserve, as it contains a lot of habitats in a restricted areas, and trawling has been banned since 1932.

“Oceana supports enlarging the protected area of Knähäken to include the area north of Ven, and in the long run to protect the whole Sound”, said Hanna Paulomäki, Manager of Oceana’s Baltic Sea Project. “30% of each sub-region of the Baltic Sea should be effectively conserved and coupled with comprehensive management plans and monitoring programs.”

Oceana’s  2011 fieldwork showed that a great many changes have taken place in the bottom communities in a large area north of Ven. The Haploops community, known since the 1800s, has almost disappeared for unknown reasons. The invasive species Mnemiopsis leidyi has also been observed in the area, and very little is known about them and their impact the ecosystem. No signs of bottom trawling were observed, and there was a surprisingly little amount of litter on the sea bed.

“This was a very valuable complement to our ongoing monitoring program. For the first time I have seen large areas of the bottom in high resolution”, added Marine Scientist Peter Göransson from Environmental Office, city of Helsinborg. “Every municipality along the coast should appreciate and get more knowledge about the marine environment”.

In connection with the 10 year anniversary of the Dunkers culture house in Helsingborg, the city of Helsingborg and Oceana are inviting the public to see their research boats, the Sabella and the Hanse Explorer respectively, Friday the 27th in the afternoon.

Helsingborg city: The city of Helsingborg has studied the marine environment in the Sound continuously for more than 20 years, and has two employed marine biologist. Soon Helsingborg municipality has created two marine reserves, including Knähäken and Grollegrund.

About Oceana, www.oceana.org

Oceana opened an office in Copenhagen in the beginning of 2011 to work with the Baltic Sea and Kattegat. Through expeditions and campaigns Oceana aims to protect and restore the world’s oceans. Oceana is an international team of marine scientists, economists, lawyers and advocates, that with a global perspective, is achieving specific changes in legislation to reduce pollution and prevent the irreversible collapse of fish stocks, protect marine mammals and other forms of marine life.