Improving perennial vegetation and fish stocks to a good status would lead to a gain of

0

billion euros annually.

With improved state of the marine environment, recreation values would increase by

0

billion euros annually.

Reducing eutrophication would increase citizen welfare by

0

billion euros annually.

Human activities and pressures

Human activities in the Baltic Sea and in its surroundings are responsible for pressures on the environment. The size of the catchment area of the Baltic Sea is four times the size of its surface area, and is currently inhabited by around 85 million people. Inputs from human activities in the catchment area, such as nutrient loading and release of hazardous substances, add to pressures from human activities at sea, causing cumulative impacts to the status of the marine environment.

Environmental management to reduce pressures from human activities and minimize negative impacts often needs to take into account a complexity of linkages. Typically, one human activity may give rise to a number of pressures, with different impacts on the environment, and one pressure may reflect the sum from several human activities. Current important pressures on the Baltic Sea environment are shown in Figure 3.1, together with links to the many human activities that may contribute to them. The figure reflects the multiple ways in which pressures may enter the marine environment and impact on species, habitats and human well-being.

Figure 3.1. Human activities in the Baltic Sea and their connection to pressure types.

Figure 3.1. Human activities in the Baltic Sea and their connection to pressure types. The lines show which pressures are potentially induced by a certain human activity, without inferring the magnitude of the pressure in each case, nor its potential impacts on the environment. The figure illustrates the level of complexity potentially involved in the management of environmental pressures.

Cost of degradation

The ways in which pressures may affect species and habitats are sometimes well-known but often include indirect or cascading effects, so that impacts on one species may lead to secondary impacts on other species. From the perspective of human welfare, the deterioration of the environment decreases the economic contribution from human activities that are dependent on the state of the sea, and also reduces the value that people place on the marine environment. Cost of degradation analysis measures the reduction in human welfare caused by the deterioration of the marine environment (Box 3.2).

Box 3.2 Losses in human well-being from the degradation of the marine environment

Degradation of the environment causes many adverse effects that reduce the economic benefits (or welfare) people obtain from the marine environment, including increased water turbidity and more frequent blue-green algal blooms, reduction and changes in fish stocks, contamination of fish and seafood, increased litter on the beaches and in the sea, and loss of marine biodiversity.

The relationship between the two components of economic and social analyses, the use of marine waters and cost of degradation, is outlined in a simplified way in Figure 3.2. Data to simultaneously assess both components is currently scarce at the regional scale, but one example is provided in Box 3.3. The results from the study (Czajkowski et al. 2015) show the current value of marine and costal recreation, an activity which is dependent on the state of the Baltic Sea environment, to be around 15 billion euros annually, and the relative loss of value caused by deterioration of the environment to be around 1–2 billion euros each year.

Figure 3.3. Roles of economic and social analyses in the holistic assessment.

Figure 3.2. Roles of economic and social analyses in the holistic assessment. The human activities contribute to the national and regional economies and human welfare, which is measured in the economic and social analysis of the use of marine waters (Box 3.1). The state of the marine environment affects human welfare. The welfare losses from not being in a good environmental status are estimated in the cost of degradation analysis (Box 3.2). The status also affects the economic contribution from many activities, such as recreation and fish and shellfish harvesting, as shown by the link back from ‘state’ to ‘activity’.

Box 3.3 Example of economic and social analyses: recreation

Marine and coastal recreation is a marine activity which is dependent on the state of the Baltic Sea environment. Thus, it is possible to assess both the current economic value of recreation, and the losses in recreation values due to the deterioration of the marine environment.

Box 4.1.2. Costs of eutrophication

Eutrophication causes many adverse effects on the marine environment which also reduce the welfare of citizens. These include decreased water clarity, more frequent cyanobacterial blooms, oxygen deficiency in bottom waters, changes in fish stocks and loss of marine biodiversity.

Box 5.6.1. Reduced welfare from changes in perennial vegetation and fish stocks

Deterioration of marine biodiversity may result in welfare losses to society (see also Box 3.2). Although the effects may not be directly observable, people obtain benefits from knowing that the marine ecosystem and its species are thriving.

Spatial distribution of human activities

Examples of human activities of importance in the Baltic Sea and their spatial distribution are shown in Figure 3.3.

Figure 3.3. Examples of human activities of importance in the Baltic Sea and their spatial distribution: a) finfish aquaculture sites, b) location of pipelines, c) location of offshore wind farms, d) shipping intensity, and e) intensity of bottom trawling, f) dredging sites and dredging material deposit sites. The spatial distribution of the activities are dependent, for example, on the distribution of underlying resources and topography. Fishing activities have the highest intensity in areas where the target species are most abundant, depth and seabed properties determine suitable locations for sand extraction or wind farms, and shipping routes need to be planned in relation to travel distances and safety. However, the distribution of certain activities, such as aquaculture, is a result of regulatory and cultural differences. Marine spatial planning has an emerging role in using these different aspects to manage human activities at sea, as well as mitigating negative effects on the environment.

Supplementary report

Supplementary Report

Economic and social analyses
– First version June 2017 –
to be updated in 2018

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