In the past two years we have been working hard in the European Parliament on saving the Baltic Sea.
We drafted a Baltic Sea strategy which was adopted by the parliament with a large majority of votes. You can also find some more information in a Blue Wings column that I wrote on the topic.
During the whole process, we have been cooperating closely with organizations such WWF, Helcom and people from the John Nurminen foundation.
Today we took the most concrete step by tabling three pilot projects to the 2008 budget of the European Commission.
We gathered a list of supporting MEPs from all Baltic Sea states and most political groups.
Now we will try to lobby hard to get these through in the vote. These three pilot projects are obviously not the only ones competing for Commission funding.
Here are the samples of the projects we proposed. The first project is about reducing polution from agriculture. The second one is about measures to prevent degradation of and restoring the deep sea ecosystems. The third one is about reducing polution from leasure boating.
How do you think we should save the baltic sea?
Pilot project 1:
The aim of the pilot project is to decrease diffuse nutrient loading from agriculture, concentrating specifically to the critical sub-catchment areas of the Baltic Sea drainage basin. Furthermore, this initiative introduces a particular recipe of concrete environmental measures: (a) Restoration and establishment of wetlands, (b) Establishment of buffer zones between cultivated fields and aquatic ecosystems, (c) Analyses of the soil properties and nutrient balance calculations and (d) A set of other environmental measures tailored in farm-specific fashion. Based on the individual circumstances, farm-specific counselling could point out the most effective environmental measures that should be implemented in each farm. The need for these measures is widely recognized, yet almost fully unimplemented across member states. Since 2004 the Baltic Sea has had a special importance for the European Union as eight of the nine riparian countries are EU-member states.
Pilot project 2:
Marine transportation is in rapid growth in the Baltic Sea. Environmental risks and contamination of the Baltic Sea caused by, for example, oils and other hazardous substances, lavatory waters, solid waste and air polluting substances, should be minimized.
In the leisure boat sector the development of sanitary waste processing facilities has been slow in the Baltic Sea yacht marinas. Building a system of septic tanks that can be emptied at the harbours is important as it has high local significance. Toxic paints are used in the bottom of boats to prevent marine animal attachment to boat bottoms. These paints contain several hazardous substances and thus alternative methods have been developed to prevent animal attachment.
Pilot project 3:
Comprehensive search for former hazardous waste land fills in the sea area of all Baltic countries, which have the potential of polluting the Baltic Sea with thousands of tons of hazardous substances, should be carried out. In addition, as the known hazardous waste land fills contain mixed hazardous waste and have typically no ownership, economically feasible environmentally sound management practices should be further developed.
The deep water layers of the small and large semi-enclosed basins suffer from lack of oxygen. Thus, large amounts of phosphorus are released from sediment into the water column, which enhances eutrophication. The oxygen-rich surface water can be pumped from the surface water to deep water layers. Testing of the method and equipment should be made in a small semi-enclosed basin in order to ensure the positive effects of oxygenation in water and surface sediment before large scale implementation.