Protection of 69 threatened species in the Baltic Sea blocked by Denmark
Press Release Date: March 14, 2016
Three years of work by 88 leading experts were effectively scrapped during the 37th Annual Meeting of the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM) last Friday, when countries approved a heavily weakened version of a plan to protect and rebuild the most threatened Baltic Sea and Kattegat species. Oceana denounces Denmark as the sole culprit that has effectively blocked the protection of 69 species threatened with extinction in the area.
“Denmark’s short-sighted stance opposes the overwhelmingly predominant call for protection and is highly dangerous for the future of Baltic ecosystems,” explains Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe. “It is unacceptable that a single, non-environmentally conscious government is able to cause lasting damage far beyond its own waters. We hope that the other countries will take it upon themselves to implement more ambitious actions than what was decided in the meeting.”
Oceana decries Denmark’s ongoing efforts to prevent marine conservation in the region. It is the only nation that refused to participate in the scientific assessment of threatened species, failed to endorse the initial conservation plan, and finally, after repeated delays, significantly watered it down.
The approved plan applies to species that are listed as threatened on the HELCOM Red List of Baltic Sea species in danger of becoming extinct. Carried out in 2013, the Red List study was the first threat assessment for Baltic Sea species covering all marine mammals, fish, birds, macrophytes (aquatic plants), and benthic invertebrates, and followed the IUCN Red List criteria. Out of 1750 species and sub-species evaluated, 69 were identified as being threatened with extinction in the Baltic Sea and three are now regionally extinct: American Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus), the common skate (Dipturus batis), and the gull-billed tern (Gelochelidon nilotica).
“Three species have already become extinct in the region due to human activities, and it seems that Denmark is content to allow others to suffer the same fate,” added Gustavsson.
Read more: HELCOM Red List of Baltic Sea Species