Do we really care about the Baltic Sea? What kind of harmful substances can be found in the
Baltic fish? How much waste is there floating in our sea? What is the underwater noise?
The National Water Management Authority (NWMA) organised consultation meeting with experts of the protection of the Baltic seawaters. Dedicated to the draft National Sea Waters Protection Programme (NSWPP), the meeting took place on 16 March, in Sopot. Participants included more than 70 people connected with the sea management, water management, sailing, representatives of the central and local authorities, scientists and private entities.
The National Sea Waters Protection Programme is one of the essential strategic documents for the water sector and sets forth measures that are to help to improve the Baltic Sea. This document is addressed not only at the national authorities but at everyone who is interested in the welfare of our sea, said Iwona Koza who is the acting President of the NWMA. We have been actively supporting the welfare of the Baltic Sea and the NSWPP is a natural consequence of the efforts. We set forth what should be done and how much it may cost to implement the programme. Of course, we have to remember that it is a multiannual and at the same time very ambitious programme and implementation thereof requires involvement of various groups and circles, added President Koza. As of 8 March, the draft NSWPP has been undergoing the process of public consultations, both on the website www.chronmorze.pl and in the office of the NWMA in Warsaw and the RWMA in Gdańsk and Szczecin. All parties interested in protecting the Baltic Sea have the opportunity to familiarise with the document and file their comments until 29 March 2016.
The document was developed based on the analysis of the current status of the sea environment and specific environmental objectives. It sets forth measures that should be implemented in order to maintain or improve the condition of the Baltic Sea. In total, the NSWPP provides 57 of such measures (including administrative, legal, control, education and investment steps), whereas implementation thereof has been estimated to cost nearly 3.2 billion zloty. These measures complement the activities planned in other plans and programmes, e.g. the National Programme for Communal Wastewater Treatment.
Each proposed new measure has undergone cost and benefit as well as quantity and quality analysis, which helped to confirm its appropriateness. The status of the Baltic Sea is determined by 11 core factors, 5 of which require improvement and only 4 are consistent with the approved standards (2 failed to be evaluated). The proposed measures will help to improve the specific factors and the status of the seawaters in the nearest future. The draft NSWPP estimates that the measures should be implemented until 2020, although the environmental objectives for the Baltic Sea may be implemented within the planning horizon ending in 2027.
The Baltic Sea’s condition is determined by 11 core features:
2. Alien species
3. Commercially fished species of fish and shellfish
4. Food chain
6. Integrity of the sea bottom
7. Hydrographic conditions
8. Pollutants and the impact thereof
9. Pollutants in fish and seafood
10. Litter and waste in the sea
11. Underwater noise
Features requiring the most attention
• C1 – Biodiversity
• C3 – Commercially fished species of fish and invertebrate
• C5 – Eutrophication (which, indirectly, influences the other features)
• C6 – Integrity of sea bottom
Features representing good environmental status
• C4 – Food chain
• C7 – Hydrographic conditions
• C8 – Pollutants and the impact thereof
• C9 – Pollutants in fish and seafood
The key threats include:
The progressing eutrophication (C5) connected with the inflow of biogens from the land sources into the seawaters (caused by intensive agriculture, lack of appropriate restrictions for waste treatment facilities and emission of excessive amounts of phosphorus into the seawaters, impact of large factories), and thereby the disappearance of biodiversity (C1), disruption of the food chain (C4) and the violated integrity of the sea bottom caused by impact on the benthic habitats (C6);
Intensive and unregulated fishing;
Mining aggregates, storing dredged material, damages/distorted structures caused by bottom trawling, structure changes initiated by the works in harbours and protection of the seacoast;
Development of harbour and sailing infrastructure, uncontrolled development of hydrotechnical infrastructure (connected with, among others, permanent construction development of the seacoast), irrational sailing;
Litter and waste in the seawaters;
Sunk WW2 shipwrecks, including Stuttgart shipwreck;
Inefficient monitoring, hence lack of access to the complex data necessary to determine the current status.
The key measures proposed by the NSWPP:
• Air monitoring of the wastes
• Equipment collecting waste from the ships in the harbours
• Fishing for litter
• Introducing a ban on discharging untreated sanitary waste
• Development and promotion of the Code of Good Agricultural Practices
• Increasing access to data concerning accidental fishing of protected sea species.
• Development and promotion of the natural gas as the fuel used by ships
• Supervising equipment collecting waste and cargo leftovers from the ships
• Educational and information campaign dedicated to the rational use of rainfalls
• Promoting the Polish Code of Responsible Fishing
Successes in the sea strategy implemented in Poland in recent years
In recent years, Poland has undertaken numerous activities that significantly contributed to the improvement of the seawaters as well as the knowledge thereof. They include:
• Implementation of the Framework Marine Strategy Directive – development of the key planning documents necessary to draft and implement marine strategy in Poland,
• Implementation of KPOŚK/PWŚK, contributing to the improvement of the quality of land waters as well as reduction of the inflow of the biogens (particularly nitrogen), including the sea,
• Decreased fishing pressure, improved fishing management and implementation of the Common Fishing Policy (it helped to improve the LFI),
• Implementation of the protection measures connected with Nature 2000,
• Improved and intensified monitoring of the seawaters, both basic and additional (e.g. pilot implementation of the sea species and habitats monitoring in 2015-2018, GIOS),
• Various research projects carried out by research institutes and focused on the marine environment (e.g. SAMBAH, ECO-DUMP, Baltic Bottom Bed, Habitat Mapping and others).