Last week, Oceana concluded its 3rd annual Baltic Sea expedition. The marine conservation organization for the first time focused solely on coastal areas. The expedition was aimed at exposing the shortcomings of the current network of marine protected areas in the Baltic Sea, and documenting fisheries with the ultimate goal of ensuring effective, scientifically based management for all commercially-caught species. Findings will be used to propose new areas for protection and better fisheries management measures.
“Though 12 percent of the Baltic Sea is currently protected, its marine protected areas are very poorly managed and also badly distributed. The reality is that these places aren’t as well off as one would like to think“, stated Xavier Pastor, expedition leader and executive director of Oceana in Europe. “It is the same case for the fisheries management, where lack of supervision and weak governance allows illegal fishing to run quite rampant in some areas.”
Oceana’s multinational crew spent six weeks travelling through 7 Baltic Sea countries, meeting with politicians, media and local fishermen along the way. The team of divers and scientists carried out 20 scuba dives totaling 31 hours of filming and an additional 50 dives with an underwater vehicle, which spent 1 328 minutes below the surface. Oceana has thus collected hours of underwater footage in HD quality and taken some 6 000 photographs.
“Now the real work begins,” added Hanna Paulomäki, Baltic Sea project manager at Oceana. “Over the coming months, our team will work on analyzing all the information we have gathered to develop clear and effective fisheries management and marine protected area proposals for local and regional governments and decision makers.”
Pictures from the expedition: http://bit.ly/192OV4R