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Oceana calls on Denmark and Sweden to create an international protected area covering the entire Sound

New report exposes unique biodiversity suffering long-term effects of human activity

Copenhagen, Denmark – Today, Oceana has released an extensive report proposing the creation of a joint Danish/Swedish marine protected area covering the entire Sound. The report presents the findings of Oceana’s 2016 at-sea research expedition, which was made possible by a grant from the Swedish Postcode Foundation, and documented both the diversity of marine life and the impacts of human activities. The Sound hosts a unique and rich array of marine life, yet it is subject to heavy pressure from many human activities such as sand dredging, maritime traffic, land reclamation, and pollution.

“Including the entire Sound within just one protected area would be the most effective way to ensure the conservation of its full range of biodiversity and best manage human activities. Sweden and Denmark can set an example of international cooperation in marine conservation, for Europe and the world,” stated Lasse Gustavsson, executive director for Oceana in Europe. “Key stakeholders, including many leading industry figures and local politicians, agree. By jointly protecting the Sound, both countries win – let’s stop talking about it and just get it done.”

The expedition found nearly 200 species, from nine different habitat types. Some of the findings were rather surprising, such as vulnerable sea pens and Norway lobsters enduring bottom trawling in the northern Sound. The report also reveals the long-term effects of human activities, including the likely disappearance of Haploops communities and barren underwater wastelands left behind following industrial sand dredging.

Current protection in the Sound is insufficient. Existing protected areas are mostly small and scattered, with varying conservation goals and regulations, making it difficult to secure the long-term survival of the unique set of species and habitats found in the region. A joint Danish/Swedish marine protected area would build on the existing protected areas, and ensure consistent management on both sides of the strait.

Oceana believes that the proposed transnational protected area would, besides better protecting the most threatened species and habitats, provide additional benefits, such as:

  • Maintaining abundant and healthy fish stocks on a long-term basis, through the protection of essential fish habitats,
  • Extending protection to valuable species and habitats that are not protected currently,
  • Enhancing tourism and recreational activities,
  • Contributing to maintaining the cultural values and identity of the region.

Read the report - The Sound: Biodiversity, threats, and transboundary protection