The aquatic environment has changed in the coastal zone and archipelago of the Baltic Sea. Over the past half century, the Baltic Sea ecosystem has suffered from eutrophication, overfishing, the spread of environmental pollutants and alien species. Changes in the shallow bays of the sea, often referred to as the Baltic Sea nursery, is particularly evident. Clear waters with high fish abundance, meadows of underwater vegetation and high diversity of small animals and fish fry have been transformed into a murky water, with algae blooms and absence of predatory fish and seabirds.
The shallow bays are not solely important for the Baltic Sea ecosystem. They also play an important role to inhabitants and visitors of the coast. The monetary value is significant in terms of a multitude of ecosystem services, such as recreational fishing, boating, and other marine recreation. The shallow and sheltered bays have a continuous exchange of water and organisms with the open sea and, as a result, are affected by the large-scale environmental problems in the Baltic Sea. However, the shallow bays have shown a greater ability to cope with external pressures if the disturbances from the local environment are minimized.
Much is at stake if we do not reverse the negative change and take measures to protect and restore the ecosystems of the shallow sheltered bays. The objectives of the project “Living Bays” are to demonstrate the possibilities of restoring bay ecosystems, increase the knowledge on appropriate measures, their effect, and costs.
The overall objectives of the project are:
– To restore a number of shallow sheltered bays, by local measures, and to regain functioning ecosystems with good water quality, abundant and healthy flora and fauna, and better conditions for recreation, in a number of shallow bays.
– To develop concrete recommendations for measures and costs, based on thorough evaluation of the response of measures of the bays. The measures are expected to be feasible for property owners, communities, boat clubs and municipalities.
– Disseminate the results and recommendations of the project to increase and facilitate measures in other shallow sheltered bays.
The project is carried out in bays along the Swedish Svealand coast. As a first step, the bays are investigated to identify the environmental status and measures needed for ecosystem recovery. Subsequently, measures followed by scientific sampling and evaluation are conducted throughout the project period.
Results and conclusions from both specific case studies and studies in the bays selected for restoration will be presented as they become ready. At the end of the project, a summary with recommendations, effects and costs will be compiled to enable those that are interested to use the information to improve the environmental situation in “their” bay.
“Living bays” is conducted by BalticWaters2030 in close cooperation with Stockholm University, the county administrative board of Stockholm and the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management, which has granted funds to Stockholm University for sampling and evaluation. In total, about SEK 46 million is invested in the project by the foundation and its partners.
Information on specific case studies and the results of the measures will be published as they become ready, while we also will evaluate the possibility of new projects and measures continuously.