Baltic Beat

Mia Pihlajamäki, 01.12.2011

The final report of PROBALT is out!

Governing the blue-green Baltic Sea

Societal challenges of marine eutrophication prevention

Eutrophication is currently regarded as the most serious ecological problem for the whole Baltic Sea. Considering that the Baltic Sea has already been the focus of environmental management efforts for 40 years, it is surprising that in reality the ecological state of the Baltic Sea is not improving. This implies that protective efforts such as international and national policies and regulations, as well as their implementation, have not been effective enough.

Management of Baltic Sea eutrophication is challenged by the complex ecological characteristics of the eutrophication problem, societal differences across the Baltic Sea region, and the multitude of actors involved in governing these efforts. As a consequence, the awareness of the problem of eutrophication, as well as national and sub-national aspirations, the ability to address eutrophication in national policies and the strengthening of policy implementation, varies across the region. Furthemore, the lack of a legal arrangement of Baltic Sea protection to cover all the coastal countries makes the situation intricate.

The ultimate aim of this report is to improve Baltic Sea eutrophication protection by identifying the challenges of more effective Baltic Sea eutrophication governance at national, regional and European Union levels, and the examination of nutrient trading as an instrument to more effectively combat eutrophication. In order to improve Baltic Sea eutrophication governance, the report outlines four sets of measures that, on the basis of the case studies, are urgently needed at various governance levels - ranging from international to local.

To view and download the publication, please visit


Paula Schönach, 22.12.2010

Oxygen deficiency in the Baltic still severe

Recent measurements at the deep waters of the Baltic Proper reveal that the oxygen situation is still extremely severe, as it has been over the last decade. The Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute published recently the newest data of oxygen in the deep waters of the Baltic Proper. The area with severe lack of oxygen (i.e. less than 2 ml/l) has increased from the already worrisome numbers from earlier this decade, reaching now a total of 45 % of the bottom area and some 30 % of the volume of the Baltic Proper. This is more than ever during the measurement history reaching back to 1960.

Completely oxygen free conditions set free toxic hydrogen sulphide. During recent expeditions hydrogen sulphide was found in new areas and shallower waters than ever before. Hydrogen sulphide is poisonous to all higher organisms, and high levels lead to dead zones on the sea floor. Hypoxia can occur as a natural phenomenon but the recent trends indicate also strong human influence through nutrient discharges and eutrophication.

Since protection measures influence the water quality and bottom conditions only after a considerable time span, scientists have a great responsibility in mediating their findings to the public and the decision-makers. The numerous on-going programmes and action plans to combat eutrophication at national and international level highlight the fact that Baltic Sea protection is seriously recognised on the political agenda. Still more public awareness in all riparian countries is needed to put the necessary pressure on the implementation process of the current ambitious plans for Baltic Sea protection. This kind of news point out, that the turn into better has not been reached yet.

Read more about the SMHI:s oxygen survey 2010 from here.


Probalt in Brief

The PROBALT project aims to make the prevention of the eutrophication of the Baltic Sea more effective by 1) analyzing the societal conditions for the effective protection of the Baltic Sea at three levels: national level, regional level and the European Union level; 2) providing tools to more effectively combat eutrophication; 3) increasing national concern about the state of the Baltic Sea in individual countries.

Probalt News


PROBALT project ends December 31st 2011

The website will stay up for the time being.

The PROBALT team wants to thank all the collaborators for the past three years!


Governing Europe's Most Polluted Sea Societal challenges of the Baltic Sea eutrophication prevention

PROBALT final seminar on November 29th 2011 in Berlin


Probalt in Brussels

BONUS highlights for the European Community is organised on November 8th 2011 at the Hotel Silken Berlaymont, Brussels, Belgium