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28.05.2018 14:05

Regulation of sea-based measures in the Baltic Sea requires state cooperation

Centrum Balticum / Baltic Area Legal Studies BALEX together with Vahanen Environment Oy has assesed in a study, commissioned by the Ministry of the Environment of Finland, potential measures that could be used to mitigate and manage the internal nutrient reserves in the Baltic Sea.

The study supports the previous remarks that, currently, there are no applicable tools to mitigate the nutrient loads in a large scale. However, the Ministry of the Environment states that small-scale experiments and development work are possible in enclosed bays in coastal areas.

The aim of the study was to map out the current state of the internal nutrient reserves, their impact on eutrophication and sea-based measures that could control the nutrient loading and speed up the recovery of the Baltic Sea.

For decades, the Baltic Sea has been experiencing severe eutrophication caused by excessive external nutrient inputs. In anoxic conditions, phosphorus that has been stored in the bottom sediments is released into the water, further accelerating eutrophication. Even though the external inputs have been reduced, warming of the sea caused by climate change, anoxic bottoms and increased rains make the situation worse.


BALEX, operating under Centrum Balticum, was in charge of reviewing policy, legal and institutional framework regarding sea-based measures. According to the study, the legality of sea-based measures is weighed in the last resort during national permit procedures. There is no detailed regulation concerning sea-based measures, so many layers of regulation and legal principles become applicable. The impacts of the sea-based measures on environment and people are significant when permit decisions are made.

“To put simply, the legality of the measures depends on whether they work technically. The short-term and long-term risks of sea-based measures must be compared to the long-term benefits” says Saara Ilvessalo, Coordinator of BALEX. In addition to Saara Ilvessalo, the BALEX contribution of the assessment was carried out by Adjunct Professor Henrik Ringbom and LL.D. Brita Bohman.

The study executes the Marine Strategy and supports the execution of the HELCOM Ministerial Meeting 2018 declaration. The study emphasises that the framework for sea-based measures should be promoted in international cooperation, in the Baltic Sea region under HELCOM.

The project report: Speeding up the ecological recovery of the Baltic Sea.

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