The Swedish National Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket) and the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) are contributing about 20 million SEK (US$2.6 million) toward a pilot project to inject oxygen into the seabed of the Baltic Sea.
The study will be conducted by researchers from the University of Gothenburg. The experiment, called “Box”, was inspired by a temporary increase in oxygen levels as deep as 120 meters below the surface of the sea when phosphorous levels dropped in the 1990s.
Seven of the world’s ten largest marine dead zones—areas of oceans or seas with markedly diminished oxygen levels—are in the Baltic Sea, which was declared a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 2005. Baltic Sea states adopted the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) in 2007, intended to “drastically reduce pollution to the Baltic Sea and restore its good ecological status by 2021.” Governments are expected to present national action plans to carry out the objectives of the BSAP by 2010.
|WWF Baltic Scorecard. Click to enlarge.|
In August, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Sweden issued a statement warning of a “total collapse of the entire ecosystem” within the sea if eutrophication were allowed to spread. The WWF’s 2008 Baltic Sea Scorecard gave overall failing marks to virtually all Baltic Sea countries after reviewing environmental indicators such as biodiversity, eutrophication, and hazardous substances. In May, Naturvårdsverket warned that “drastic measures” would be needed to save the Baltic, which is semi-enclosed, with areas now hypoxic year- round (earlier post).