On World Oceans Day this past Saturday, Oceana launched its first ever Baltic Sea coastal expedition. We’ve dedicated this mission to studying the Baltic coastline, and particularly Sweden, Denmark, Poland and Finland, where a number of unique and incredible areas will be explored
Biological diversity in the Baltic region is extremely unique – these creatures have specialized to live in a very uncommon sea, but they face threats from all directions. Nutrient spills, overfishing, and discarding, the practice of throwing dead fish back into the sea, are putting enormous pressure on local ecosystems. Furthermore, current marine protected areas are so poorly managed that in some cases destructive fishing practices are commonly allowed within their boundaries.
“We are not here to promote a doom and gloom scenario that the Baltic Sea is dying, but to push for concrete policy changes to prevent further deterioration and contribute to the recovery process of this unique body of water”, says Xavier Pastor, head of the expedition and executive director of Oceana in Europe. ”The best way to do that is by providing scientific facts about the reality in the Baltic Sea, and that is what we know how to do”.
A team of divers, marine scientists, and experts, together with an underwater robot, will gather data which we will use to continue the fight to create new and better managed marine protected areas. The expedition will also document illegal fishing, which is unfortunately quite common in the region.
“Baltic Sea countries have been among the frontrunners in setting ambitious fisheries and conservation targets. Nevertheless, many of the existing policies are poorly implemented, and a common excuse for this failure is the lack of comprehensive knowledge of this sea. With our work we aim to fill-in some of the existing gaps and provide tools to implement the existing agreements,” added Hanna Paulomäki, head of Oceana’s Baltic Sea office in Copenhagen.
Check out the first of several videos to come from our Baltic expedition!