Print

Huhtamaki support the Clean Baltic Sea-project


Eutrophication is the biggest problem of the Baltic Sea, and the Gulf of Finland is its most eutrophicated basin. Though eutrophying nutrient discharges have lately decreased, there has been an increase in the visible symptoms of eutrophication, such as blue-green algae, water opacity, beach mucilage and the number of anoxic seafloor areas. According to current estimates, climate change will further precipitate the eutrophication of the Baltic Sea.

Eutrophication is caused by nitrogen and phosphorus emissions which nourish the growth of algae in the water. With respect to blue-green algae occurrence, phosphorus plays a key part. Nitrogen and phosphorus drift into the sea from cities' wastewater, and along with rainwater from fields, for example. In addition, part of the nitrogen emissions caused by traffic ends up in the Baltic Sea as fallout through the air. Regarding Finland`s nutrient load, the proportion of agriculture is large: its share of the nitrogen load is approximately one third, and almost half of the phosphorus load.

Ample growth of small algae, i.e., phytoplankton, in the surface waters cause the oxygen to run out in the water areas near the bottom. Dead algae sink to the bottom, and their decomposition consumes oxygen from the seafloor. Under anoxic circumstances, the decomposing process changes and begins to produce poisonous hydrogen sulphide which kills the area`s bottom animal populations. In anoxic conditions, phosphorus is released from the seafloor. This is called internal loading of the sea. If the water mixes very powerfully, the phosphorus released from the seafloor reaches the water surface layers and promotes the extensive growth of blue-green algae.

In addition to microscopic small algae, the large amount of nutrients in the water also precipitates the growth of annual filament algae on the stony beaches and cliffs. The more frequent filament algae suffocate perennial algae of the Baltic Sea, such as bladder wrack, which has a significant role in the ecosystem of the northern Baltic Sea. Bladder wrack forms rich growth in shore waters, which acts as an important spawning area and a "nursery" for many fish species, including financially important ones.

Eutrophication changes the life in the Baltic Sea. The effects reach also financially important fish populations, not to speak of the disadvantages the eutrophication symptoms cause to the tourism, for example. In order to curtail the emissions, all countries around the Baltic Sea should start cooperating on concrete actions.

Huhtamaki is a global consumer and specialty packaging company with a good position in smooth and rough molded fiber products, release films, flexible packaging, foodservice paper cups and other products based on paper forming technology.