The mission of this expedition to the Baltic Sea is to explore the region, map out the areas that we recommend be considered for MPA status, identify threats to the marine ecosystems, and document our finding through scientific analysis and film to share with the policy makers who will ultimately decide the fate of the Baltic.
The Baltic Sea is a unique environment in the world because of the salinity of its water, a reason why its biodiversity is so different from other places. Unfortunately the Baltic is also one of the most polluted seas in the world. Unsustainable fisheries are one of the most urgent threats to the Baltic fish stocks. Destructive fishing practices, like bottom trawling, high levels of by-catch and illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing all lead to the degradation of the marine habitats in the Baltic Sea. Currently, around 12 percent of the Baltic is protected, but these areas are mainly coastal zones, most of which are poorly managed, or not at all.
For the environment to recover, Oceana believes that the Baltic Sea needs a comprehensive network of marine protected areas. At least, 30% of the Baltic should be protected in the next few years. This network must include deep-sea areas, so that a wide biodiversity is preserved, and not just a few species. And governments should stress enforcement and control, so that illegal activities are kept to a minimum.