From: Associated Press
Published January 25, 2005 12:00 AM

Report Warns of Toxins in Baltic Fish

BRUSSELS, Belgium — The European Union should push through restrictions on the industrial use of chemicals to cut pollution affecting fish in the Baltic Sea, a leading environmental group says in a report released Tuesday.


A study by the Worldwide Fund for Nature found that catches from some parts in the Baltic exceeded limits on toxins set for fish authorized for sale in the EU. It noted that Swedish authorities had already recommended that women of childbearing age limit their consumption of Baltic herring and salmon.


Other fatty fish found in the Baltic do not comply with EU requirements for dioxin levels, the report said.


According to WWF, Atlantic salmon, sea trout, cod and turbot in the Baltic have shown signs of reproductive problems.


It said the level of brominated flame retardants found in herring is 50 times higher in the Baltic Sea than in the Atlantic. Such products are used in fabrics, computers, televisions and toys.


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WWF called for the early adoption of a draft EU law that would phase out many of the most harmful chemicals. However several EU nations are reluctant to approve the legislation which is opposed by industry leaders.


As well as fish, the report said toxins were also hitting predators such as seals and sea eagles. It said traces found in predators were two to five times higher in the Baltic than in the North Sea or Arctic Ocean.


"Baltic species are thoroughly contaminated with chemicals," said Dr. Ninja Reineke, senior policy officer at WWF's detox campaign. "This is not just a burden of the past but a major ongoing problem."


WWF said the Baltic is highly sensitive to pollution, as there is little exchange of water with the neighboring Atlantic Ocean. It means contaminated water can remain in place for 25 to 30 years.


Low temperatures make the chemicals biodegrade extremely slowly.


Source: Associated Press


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