The Baltic Sea Day was celebrated at Noblessner Marina on August 25. The day saw discussions of the current situation and future of the Baltic Sea, with pollution being one of the gravest environmental concerns.
Several events took place during the day, including seminars dedicated to the numerous environmental problems of the Baltic Sea.
A discussion panel titled “The sea starts from the coast – Environmental problems and protection measures on different coasts of the common sea” was held at the Noblessner Foundry. The panel participants included Matti Vanhanen and Jüri Ratas, Presidents of the Finnish and Estonian Parliaments; Sven Sakkov, Estonian Ambassador to Finland; Tarmo Soomere, President of the Estonian Academy of Sciences; and Kai Myrberg, Senior Researcher of the Finnish Environment Institute.
Tarmo Soomere, President of the Estonian Academy of Sciences, said that, although the Baltic Sea is one of the most polluted seas in the world, its water condition had improved compared with the one about half a century ago.
“The improvement of the marine environment starts with us,” he pointed out. “It starts with us not throwing cigarette butts on the ground and carefully considering how we can store and use fertilizers not causing environmental damage. It starts with us treating wastewater from cities and residential areas. For instance, the Tallinn Water Treatment Plant removes about 99.5% of pollutants and substances that should not be released into the sea.”
In addition to plastics, most of the litter found in the Baltic Sea and coastal areas is cigarette butts and cigarette filters, which are environmentally harmful and nondegradable. One cigarette butt poisons up to 1 000 litres of water, and the toxic substances it emits may persist in the water for up to 10 years, posing a deadly threat to marine life. Nearly eighty tonnes of cigarette filters enter the Estonian environment every year.
“Protecting the Baltic Sea has many important aspects, with environment and safety being especially crucial,” said Timo Kantola, Finnish Ambassador to Estonia.
That was precisely why our Northern neighbours arranged for the Norppa, an oil spill response vessel of the Helsinki Rescue Board, to visit Noblessner Marina for the occasion.
“She is a multipurpose vessel. First, she is an oil spill response vessel equipped with on-water oil recovery systems deployed in case of environmental incidents. She also has fire-fighting equipment to battle island fires inaccessible for regular fire engines,” told Samuli Saarioinen, Fire Officer at Helsinki City Rescue Department.
On top of everything else, a Pop-up Finnish Embassy opened its doors for the day. In addition, representatives of the Ministry of the Environment offered explanations and a demonstration of rational fishing, detailing fish species allowed to be caught from Estonian rivers and lakes and the fishing rules applicable.