Old oil barrels located at Östergötland, Sweden, bordering the Baltic Sea. In a survey involving 9000 respondents from all the countries in the region, concern is expressed about issues such as litter, everyday oil leakages and risk for major oil spill. Photo: R. Kautsky/Azote

Baltic Sea: polluters should pay

Inhabitants around the Baltic Sea express worries about the environmental situation.

With 80 per cent of all people living in the Baltic Sea region having spent leisure time there, the Baltic Sea is frequently used for recreational activities such as swimming, sunbathing or just enjoying the seashore for walking or picnicking. But there are clouds looming in the horizon.

Despite its young age (approximately 4000 years), the Baltic Sea is under considerable strain due to emissions and other pressures on the ecosystem. This in turn affects the social-ecological services it provides to the roughly 90 million people inhabiting the drainage area. This strain has led researchers to call for a more ecosystem-based management approach.

Many, particularly Finns, Swedes, Estonians and people in the coastal region of Russia, are worried about the environmental situation in the Baltic Sea.

Time for increased charges on emissions
In a survey involving 9000 respondents from all the countries in the region, concerns were expressed about issues such as litter, heavy metals and hazardous substances, everyday oil leakages and the risk of a major oil spill, damage to flora and fauna and algal blooms.

In the survey, entitled BalticSurvey — a study in the Baltic Sea countries of public attitudes and use of the seaPDF (pdf, 2 MB), the majority of the respondents asked though that polluters should pay. They considered increased charges on pollution emissions for individuals and enterprises to be an acceptable way of funding actions to improve the Baltic Sea environment.

- It is clear from the study that people in all countries around the Baltic Sea are benefiting from the recreational values of the Sea and that people are worried about the environmental deterioration. This is the first study published from the international research network BalticSTERN, and it will be very useful as a basis for further research on the benefits and the economic value of the ecosystem services that the Sea gives to society, says Siv Ericsdotter, head of the BalticSTERN Secretariat which coordinates the research network.

More scientific reports will follow and in 2012 the Secretariat will compile a synthesis report on costs of action and inaction and cost-effective measures, directed at governments and other decision-makers.

Read the survey herePDF (pdf, 2 MB)

About BalticStern

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BalticSTERN is an international research network with the purpose of doing cost-benefit analysis regarding the environmental problems of the Baltic Sea and give guidance toward cost-effective measures and policy instruments. The Secretariat is located at Stockholm Resilience Centre.

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