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Environmental economic research as a tool in the protection of the Baltic Sea

Costs and benefits of reducing eutrophication

image of Environmental economic research as a tool in the protection of the Baltic Sea

This report reviews the findings of an ecological/economicanalyses regarding the on-going and prospective effortsto reduce eutrophication of the Baltic Sea, conducted byBalticSTERN, an international research network. The results indicate that the overall benefits of fulfillingthe targets of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP)clearly outweigh their aggregate costs, suggesting thatthe BSAP is an economically sound plan for solvingthe transboundary eutrophication problem. The cost ofinaction - not implementing the objectives of the BSAP -would be significant.

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Introduction

Eutrophication is an enduring and severe environmental problem in the Baltic Sea. The causal relationships driving eutrophication are well known: deteriorating water quality is a consequence of excessively high nutrient pollution from industrial point sources, agricultural land, inadequately treated wastewaters, and atmospheric deposition. To combat eutrophication, the coastal countries of the Baltic Sea have undertaken significant efforts and set forth water policies since the 1970s. Testifying to the efficacy of such policies and measures, recent statistics suggest that nutrient loading peaked some 20 years ago and nutrient loads are now declining (Gustafsson et al. 2012, HELCOM 2013). However, the state of the marine environment has not yet improved...

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