The Baltic Sea is the most important object of protection of the sea environment in Finland. Its unique nature is very sensitive to any interference. Clear signs of disturbance in the Baltic Sea have been the decreased number of seals and white-tailed eagles, extensive blooms of blue-green alga and weakening oxygen conditions in the deep water. The eutrophication of the sea, mostly caused by agriculture, industry, community/population, forest industry, cattle raising, fish breeding and fur farming is one of the most serious environmental problems in the Baltic Sea area.
A large drainage area of industrial and agricultural nations with almost 85 million inhabitants surrounds the Baltic Sea. From the beginning of industrialism the Baltic Sea has been strained with environmental poisons and nutrient concentrations. Due to international cooperation between the Baltic Sea nations, the inputs of nutrients from Finland, Russia and Estonia have decreased by ca. 30% during the 1990's. The poor condition of St. Petersburg wastewater treatment system is one of the biggest single burdens to the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea today.
The Baltic Sea is a small and partly closed sea area. The only connection to the North Sea is through the narrow straits of Denmark. It takes about 30 years for the water mass to change completely. The amount of salt in the water in the Baltic Sea is only one fifth of the salinity level in the oceans. Water with a larger amount of salt in it can carry larger amounts of oxygen. The deep-water impulses coming occasionally from the North Sea give some relief to the oxygen condition of the Baltic Sea. The average depth of the Baltic Sea is only 60 meters, so the total amount of water is rather small. The low salinity level and the slow turnover of water mass, make the Baltic Sea a very fragile environment.
The detrimental items, especially enduring chemicals, nutrients and environmental toxins stay in the Baltic Sea for a long time. Some of the harmful materials get out of the water in the end of the food chain, but most of it stays there, encased in the sediment-layer on the bottom of the sea. All kind of interference of the sediment, for example dredging of the sea bed or building and reshaping of the coast line, will stir the sediment-layer and release again the encased detrimental items into the sea.
We spend a lot of time in the sea, exploring the underwater environment, both freediving and spearfishing. The environmental problems that effect us the most are the loss of visibility underwater, eutrophication causing a decrease in the number of plants and living creatures and the amount of toxins gathered to the fish that we eat.
It is naturally in our interest to ease the pressure to the Baltic Sea marine environment. As an example we have started co-operation with the Finnish Institute of Marine Research. By collecting research samples of fish, mussels and seawater, we are helping them monitor the ongoing changes in the fragile ecosystem of the Baltic Sea.
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