Stricter measures needed to cure Baltic Sea
Xinhua, March 7, 2014
After decades of efforts made by the coastal countries, the current environmental situation of the Baltic Sea is still quite severe, according to Tarja Halonen, former President of Finland.
At a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the signing of Helsinki Convention on Wednesday, Halonen called for higher political support and stricter measures to protect the Baltic Sea.
The health of the Baltic Sea has been seriously damaged since the 1960s due to human activities with industry waste and agricultural run-off both on the sea and throughout its catchment area.
These environmental problems were brought to the forefront by the countries in the Baltic Sea Region decades ago, and massive measures have constantly been taken to rescue the sea.
As early as in 1974, Helsinki Convention was signed by the coastal countries for the prevention and elimination of pollution of the Baltic Sea, and Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (HELCOM) was founded as a forum for the countries to act on an equal footing.
In 2007, the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan encompassing various practical measures to rescue the Baltic Sea was formulated, aiming to ensure the Sea's good environmental status by 2021.
However, the current environmental situation of the Baltic Sea is still considered to be severe and quite a lot of problems remain unresolved.
As many specialists mentioned, among the current environmental challenges, the most serious and difficult to tackle with conventional approaches is the continuing eutrophication, which is one of the main threats to the biodiversity of the Baltic Sea.
Additionally, inputs of hazardous substances also amount to a serious problem, which affects the biodiversity of the Baltic Sea and the potential for its sustainable use. Clear indicators of this situation include problems with alga blooms, dead sea-beds, and depletion of fish stocks.
At the celebration session on Wednesday, Halonen said that "Despite many years of cooperation and many accomplishments, the Baltic Sea has not yet restored the status of a healthy sea," adding that more stringent protection measures are therefore needed.
"They need to be tailor-made to the specific environmental problems such as eutrophication or the threat of low biodiversity," said Halonen.
She laid emphasis on governmental support, saying "the HELCOM organization has a legal basis, established procedures, transparency and professionalism. This needs to be coupled with higher political support to fully utilize the potential of a cooperation platform."
She called for all the members of HELCOM to be involved on equal footing and strive for harmonized implementation of the same and sufficient standards throughout the region.