From: UNEP
Published October 24, 2004 04:08 PM

The GIWA Baltic Sea report Integrated Actions and Cooperation Keys to Environmental Improvement

There are two major future issues for the improvement of the Baltic Sea: Environmental policies must be integrated with agricultural policies and the EU Water Framework Directive must be implemented in all the countries of the Baltic Sea, including Russia.

This is stated in the UNEP-Global International Waters Assessment report on the Baltic Sea, just recently completed and presented today at the 12th Baltic Sea States Subregional Cooperation conference in Malmö, Sweden. The report gives options for actions to mitigate the major environmental problems of the Baltic Sea: eutrophication and over-fishing.

The GIWA report on the Baltic Sea concludes that agricultural run-off, urban wastewater discharges, industrial chemical pollution and oil spills are problems in the region. There is a decreased viability of fish stocks in the Baltic Sea ecosystem. Cod, herring, salmon and eel are suffering from the reduced water quality and being fished at unsustainable rates.

The UNEP-GIWA Scientific Director Dag Daler gives suggestions for improvement in his speech to the 300 regional representatives from the whole Baltic Sea Region attending the conference in Malmö.

"Future policies should be based on the precautionary principle," says Dag Daler. "It is always an easier task to prevent damage than to mitigate problems. This is particularly true for the Baltic Sea environment as it is an enclosed sea."

"The main challenge is to revert to environmental sustainability," says Dag Daler. "We must be able to use the sea without damaging the environment or depleting the fish stocks and other aquatic resources. This can only be achieved by integrating socio-economic and environmental decision making in order to promote sustainable development."

According to the report, environmental policies must be integrated with the agricultural policies, by for instance supporting cooperation network and action programmes. The Baltic Sea countries are also advised to cooperate in the field of control and enforcement in fisheries.

UNEP-GIWA has its head office at the University of Kalmar on the coast of the Baltic Sea in south Sweden. The GIWA assessment of Baltic Sea is part of a global comprehensive and systematic assessment of the environmental conditions and problems in transboundary waters, led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on behalf of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). It comprises marine, coastal and fresh waters, including ground waters. The assessment is done in 66 transboundary water regions where teams of local experts focus on five major concerns including 22 specific water related problems. The regional team for the Baltic Sea was chaired by Dr. Ain Lääne of Estonia.

For additional information, see, or contact: Dag Daler, UNEP-GIWA Scientific Director, +46 70 544 60 46 ( Elisabet Idermark, UNEP-GIWA Information Officer, +46 70 56 37 430 ( GIWA Core Team Office, 391 82 Kalmar, Sweden, +46 480 44 73 50

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