The Issues

Race For The Baltic focuses on the need to achieve the objectives contained in the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) and the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). Most of our work falls within these three areas:

Water Quality

One of the major issues facing the Baltic Sea is eutrophication, which has harmful effects on water quality, causes algal blooms and oxygen depletion, disrupts feeding and reproduction and threatens biodiversity. By doing so, eutrophication throws out of sync the delicate balance that exists in any aquatic environment and creates a negative feedback loop which threatens to turn the Baltic into a dead sea.

The source of most of the eutrophication affecting the Baltic is well known-the harmful environmental practices of industry and agriculture around the Baltic. The combination of unsustainable industrial animal farming and over-fertilisation has resulted in a sea that is slowly dying because it is overloaded with nutrients.

About 80% of all nutrients in the Baltic Sea come from land-based activities including sewage, industrial and municipal waste water and agricultural run-off.

Race For The Baltic works for more dialogue, close-loops systems and innovation to solve these challenges.


A number organisations working in the Baltic Sea region have identified that recovery of the cod population is key to the environmental and economic recovery of the Baltic Sea. Careful management of cod, as well as its main feed species – sprat and herring – will help improve the Baltic Sea environment and create a long-term future for a sustainable fishing industry.

As a top predator in the Baltic Sea food chain, cod has a very important role in the ecosystem, helping to maintain a healthy sea. Additionally, cod is a vital species in the Baltic Sea fishing industry and as such the long-term sustainability of the cod population is key to vital economic activity.

A mix of destructive fishing practices, high levels of by catch and unregulated fishing led to the decline in the once thriving cod populations. But the Baltic cod is now slowly recovering due to favourable water conditions and timely management actions in recent years. It is therefore very important that we continue managing this natural resource in a responsible way.

Race For The Baltic has teamed up with The Black Fish to focus on illegal fishing.

How can the surrounding populations use the Baltic Sea as a food source if there is no food in it?

Biological Diversity

MPAs provide a useful tool in protecting and restoring threatened, declining and sensitive species and eco systems. In the Baltic Sea, 12% is designated as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in order to protect sensitive and biologically diverse areas. However, most of these sites in the Baltic Sea are poorly managed or not at all.

How can marine ecosystems in designated Marine Protected Areas thrive when they are ineffectively managed?

Race for the Baltic, together with its partner Oceana, call for action and implementation of environmentally sustainable and scientifically supported practices throughout the Baltic Sea on key issues. In doing so, it seeks to make the Baltic Sea a model region for marine management in the EU and internationally.

The Baltic Sea covers an area of 415 266km2 in Northern Europe. Nine countries share the Baltic Sea coastline: Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany and Denmark. More than 80 million people inhabit the Baltic Sea catchment area. The Baltic Sea is a unique brackish water environment. At the same time it’s one of the most polluted seas in the world. Agricultural, industrial and wastewater run-off have all led to the deterioration of the water quality. Coupled with overfishing and biodiversity loss, it threatens the health of the Baltic Sea environment.