Hard times for Europe's seas

Researchers predict significant ecologic deterioration

Sea - Threatened Environment © IMSI MasterClips
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The state of European sea areas will continue to deteriorate. This gloomy prognosis has now been set up by a consortium of one hundred scientists from 15 European countries. Human impact could lead to biodiversity loss, deterioration of water quality and even less attractiveness for tourism.

Within the EUR 2.5 million ELME (European Lifestyles and Marine Ecosystems) project, researchers explored how lifestyles in Europe alter the state of marine habitats. They analyzed the changes in the European seas over the past 30 years in terms of socio-economic and political change in Europe.

The result: The developed models predict difficult times for the Baltic Sea, the Northeast Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. Overfishing, over-fertilization, increased maritime traffic and serious interventions in the natural coastline will cause species to decline in the coming decades, reduce the water quality of the inland seas and make some coasts less attractive to tourism.

Fish stocks endangered

For example, cod stocks in the Baltic Sea will continue to decline, and blue-green plagues are unavoidable. In the North Sea, fish such as plaice and halibut are endangered. In the Mediterranean, bluefin tuna populations are dramatically decreasing, shallow water animal habitats are disappearing, and water quality is deteriorating, especially in the Adriatic. Also in the Black Sea, the water quality will deteriorate again significantly. Jellyfish plagues will be more common and stocks of turbot, sturgeon and swordfish can not recover.

Lifestyle chemicals are threatening ecosystems

The entry of "lifestyle" chemicals derived from household products, such as soil repellents that are sprayed on computers and cell phones, poses a new threat to ecosystems. The study shows the overall state of the regional advertisement

Marine areas and identifies emerging problems and necessary activities. Only a quick intervention in the current economic developments in Europe can avoid the increasing damage. This poses urgent challenges to the EU maritime policy. For example, the relocation of intensive animal fattening to Eastern Europe must be accompanied by the expansion of wastewater treatment plants.

(Alfred-Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), 05.07.2007 - NPO)