Photo: Bengt Wikström

The importance of the Baltic Sea marine environment to society is shown by economic and social analyses. The results illustrate the contribution from the use of marine waters to the economies and the impact of the state of the marine environment on the welfare of citizens. The aim is to improve our understanding of the connection between the marine ecosystem and human welfare.

Every one of us has a personal relationship with the Baltic Sea marine environment. We gain benefits when we use the sea for recreation and transportation, we harvest its resources, and some of us obtain direct employment and income from marine activities. These uses influence the state of the environment in many cases, reducing the ability of the marine ecosystem to provide goods and services for human well-being. The importance of the Baltic Sea marine environment to society, to national and regional economies and for the well-being of current and future generations is shown by economic and social analyses, illustrating that protection and use of marine waters brings significant contributions to the economies and the welfare of citizens.

Hundreds of years ago, fishing was vital for the survival of people around the Baltic Sea, often combined with farming and hunting. Shipping played an essential role in the transportation of people and goods. These activities are still of key importance today, although hunting is no longer a source of livelihood. Additionally, more advanced technology is available and traditional ways of using the sea are accompanied by new ones, such as offshore energy production, extraction of sand and gravel, aquaculture, as well as tourism and recreation. Overall, the presence of human activities has increased, and more parts of the sea are accessed.

This chapter covers the following themes: