Oceana´s Baltic coastal expedition makes its final stop in Poland

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Proposal for new marine protected area in Middle Bank presented in Szczeciński


July 9, 2013
Madrid
Contact:
Marta Madina ( [email protected] )




Today, Oceana concluded its six-week long Baltic Sea expedition in Szczeciński, Poland. Though this is the third year the marine conservation organization has conducted an expedition to document marine life in the Baltic Sea, it is the first time the multinational team of divers and researchers targeted solely the coastal areas.

Oceana also used this opportunity to present a proposal to protect a critical area in Poland – The Middle Bank – which is currently unprotected, despite meeting all the requirements necessary to become a marine protected area. The proposal is based on research and date from previous expeditions.

Middle Bank, located 80km from the nearest coast, hosts several species that are very important to the local ecosystem including wintering birds, and cod and plaice, both of which are listed as threatened and/or declining fish species by HELCOM. There is also evidence that the area functions as a nursery for cod.

“Though 12% of the Baltic Sea is currently protected, its marine protected areas are very poorly managed and also badly distributed. There is general a lack of offshore protected areas in the Baltic Sea,” stated Xavier Pastor, expedition leader and executive director of Oceana in Europe. “Establishing Middle Bank as a marine protected area would move the Baltic Sea closer to having an ecologically coherent network of MPAs.”

Oceana used a remote operated vehicle (ROV) – with the capacity to document life up to 100 m deep, launched from a hard inflatable boat to complement hours of video and hundreds of photos taken by the team on board.  The coastal expedition, which launched on World Oceans Day in Malmo, Sweden, also studied Denmark and Finland before concluding in Poland.

“Now the real work begins,” added Hanna Paulomäki, Baltic Sea project manager at Oceana. “Our team will spend months closely analyzing all the information we have gathered to develop clear and effective fisheries management and marine protected area proposals for local and regional governments and decision makers.” 

Pictures from the expedition: http://bit.ly/192OV4R