Launch of scientific expedition brings hope to threatened marine life in the Sound
Press Release Date: April 11, 2016
Today, Oceana launches a research expedition in the Sound to document its fragile marine habitats and species and reveal the effects of the human activities threatening this biodiversity. Located between Sweden and Denmark, the Sound connects the brackish Baltic Sea to the saltier North Sea, creating a key area for a unique set of declining marine species and habitats in need of protection.
The three-week expedition funded by a generous grant from the Swedish Postcode Foundation will gather data using Oceana’s state-of-the-art ROV (remotely operated vehicle) capable of filming life on the sea floor in full HD. Additional data will collected by Oceana’s professional divers and through bottom sampling. Oceana has visited the Sound during 2011, 2012, and 2013 expeditions of the Baltic Sea and Kattegat and the 2016 expedition will build on those efforts by focusing exclusively on this important strait and gathering data critical for advancing the area’s marine management and protection.
“The Sound is a prime candidate for marine protection. It’s densely populated on both sides and is subject to a constant barrage of human activity that threatens the area’s rich biodiversity, and local economies that depend on it,” explains Lasse Gustavsson, executive director of Oceana in Europe. “Marine habitats and species don’t recognise political borders so a transboundary MPA encompassing the entire Sound is the only way to ensure real protection in the region. The data gathered by Oceana will be critical for achieving this.”
Marine habitats such as Haploops and horse mussel communities are in decline in the Sound. Many of its sandbanks, which serve as fish spawning and feeding grounds, have also been destroyed largely by dredging. The lack of protection of these important anchors for marine ecosystems not only threatens biodiversity but also the future of local industries that rely on a healthy marine environment. Local fisheries, leisure and tourism all provide vital jobs and income to a region populated by 3.8 million people, where multiple human threats – including maritime traffic, sand dredging, land reclamation and pollution – threaten marine life.
During the 2016 Sound expedition, Oceana will be supported by the Swedish marine knowledge centre SEA-U Marint Kunskapscenter.