Protection of the Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is the youngest sea on the planet and is a unique marine brackish-water ecosystem. It is a semi-enclosed sea and thus highly sensitive to pollution, as there is little exchange of water through the Danish Straits with the neighbouring North Sea. The Baltic Sea also receives heavy pollutant loads from the bordering countries. In addition, the increasing oil transport in the Baltic Sea poses a particular risk to the ecosystem.
Particularly Sensitive Sea Area
In 2005 the Baltic Sea, with the exception of Russian waters and the Russian economic zone, was designated a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The PSSA status includes special protective measures to control international maritime activities. The Baltic Sea has also been defined as a “special area” according to several annexes to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL 73/78), which means stricter requirements for maritime transport than in other areas.
Finland’s Programme for the Protection of the Baltic Sea
In 2002 the Finnish Government approved Finland’s Programme for the Protection of the Baltic Sea. In June 2005 the Ministry of the Environment approved an action plan that presents the actions needed to meet the objectives of the programme. By adopting these two instruments, Finland also implements the 1995 Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA) coordinated by UNEP.
According to Finland’s Programme for the Protection of the Baltic Sea, in order to achieve a good ecological state in the Baltic Sea, steps must be taken both nationally and internationally in six main areas. These areas are combating eutrophication, decreasing the risks of hazardous substances, curbing the risks caused by various uses of the Baltic Sea, preserving and increasing biodiversity, increasing environmental awareness, and research and follow-up.
The Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) operates its Research Programme for the Protection of the Baltic Sea.
The most serious problem in the Finnish coastal waters is eutrophication. In December 2004, the Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development discussed ways and means of reducing eutrophication in the Baltic Sea. A background document was prepared for the meeting entitled “Curbing eutrophication in the Baltic Sea”.