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Baltic Sea deadlines delayed

03 Oct 2013

Ministers have agreed to rebuild fish stocks in the Baltic by 2015, but environmental groups fear that reaching the overall goal of good environmental status by 2021 will not be possible.

Baltic Sea Environmental Ministers have signed a HELCOM Ministerial Declaration, reviewing the progress on targets agreed in the 2007 HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP), in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Environmental NGOs, Coalition Clean Baltic, FISH and Oceana, have welcomed the agreement to continue to fully implement the BSAP by 2021, but have said for this goal to be reached, the 2007 agreements should already be put into action.

They say that despite a focus on eutrophication, no substantial improvements were made on the reduction of nutrient discharge from the agricultural sector, making the Declaration much weaker than they had hoped.

Fisheries sections of the agreement have been strengthened, including the deadline to rebuild stocks by 2015, along with a range of measures to address the critical status of European eel, including lowering the fishing mortality in line with ICES advice.

However, the NGOs says that there is still a widespread lack of proper protection for species, habitats and biotopes in the Baltic Sea region, and they say that Germany and Denmark have postponed the publication of the HELCOM Red List for Baltic Sea species and habitats, because of commercial interests regarding cod.