Eleven years remain for the nine countries sharing the Baltic Sea to reach their common goal to restore the health of the Baltic marine environment, as agreed by the adoption of the Baltic Sea Action Plan in 2007.
This report is an essential document for the environmental managers and decisionmakers in the Baltic region and it is novel in several respects. For the first time an attempt has been made to assess the ecosystem health of an entire regional sea, including the associated costs and benefits to society. The assessment is based on quality-assured data and expert knowledge gathered between 2003 and 2007; it provides a good basis to enable a comparison to the status before the implementation of the Baltic Sea Action Plan adopted by HELCOM in 2007. By comparing the future status of the sea to this baseline, it will be possible to demonstrate how our measures are improving the health status of the Baltic ecosystem and how the pressures we are exerting are changing, hopefully
to the better.
This Initial Holistic Assessment of the ecosystem health of the Baltic gives the clear message that none of the open-water basins currently is in a ’good environmental status‘. Most sea areas are affected by eutrophication, hazardous substances or an unfavourable conservation status. The humaninduced pressures on the Baltic Sea have compromised the health of the Baltic Sea ecosystem, including the human communities linked to it. Given the current impaired status of ecosystem health, we urgently need to manage our pressures intelligently, especially pressures caused by agriculture, fi sheries, industries, and the maritime sector, but also by ordinary people, because after all it is our lifestyle which is the root cause of all pressures affecting the marine environment.