EU Member States along the Baltic Sea have committed jointly to step up efforts to improve the marine environment and protect the Baltic Sea
At yesterday’s ‘Our Baltic Conference’ organised under the auspices of Commissioner Sinkevičius, the ministers of fisheries, agriculture and environment of Baltic Sea Member States committed, for the first time jointly, to step up efforts to reduce pressures on the marine environment of the Baltic Sea and protect it.
The conference is an attempt to translate the European Green Deal ambition into specific commitments to clean and restore the natural environment of the Baltic Sea – one of the most polluted sea basins of the EU – for the benefit of coastal communities. The joint commitments are enshrined in the Ministerial Declaration signed at this occasion.
EU Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said:
I am delighted that so many national governments of the EU Baltic Sea Member States answered my call to act now to achieve a clean and healthy Baltic Sea. The problems of the Baltic Sea cannot be solved in isolation. We have a joint responsibility of protecting it through our agricultural practices, fisheries management and ways we take care of its environment. If we act together and with determination, we can still turn the tide.
The Baltic Sea is severely affected by general threats like biodiversity loss and climate change, and by specific local pressures such as eutrophication, unsustainable fishing, elevated levels of contaminants, and litter, in particular plastic waste. All these issues are interconnected, and they are choking marine life, depleting stocks, threatening livelihoods and human health.
The Ministers have committed to further align their strategies, and to fully implement a large body of EU legislation in place to reduce environmental pressures in the Baltic Sea area – from the shared rules on water and nitrates to the Common Agriculture Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy.
The declaration builds on reinforced implementation of the existing EU legislation. Member States will also commit to reaching new targets in line with the Biodiversity and Farm to Fork strategies proposed by the European Commission in May this year.
As the issues affecting the Baltic Sea know no borders, ministers have also agreed to work with non-EU countries concerned, through the regional organisations that protect the marine environment, or those that manage fisheries issues.
The impact of the commitments taken will be closely monitored through the implementation of and compliance with EU laws.