Friday, 17 January 2020 20:34

Finland: Unique flora and fauna prompt Oceana to propose MPA in the Quark

© OCEANA / Carlos MinguellA report by Oceana, an environmental NGO, documents a three-week research expedition in the Quark, a narrow area in the northern part of the Baltic Sea between Finland and Sweden that separates the nearly‑freshwater Bothnian Bay from the more saline Bothnian Sea. The report calls for Finland and Sweden to establish a transboundary marine protected area (MPA) in the Quark in view of the area’s importance for biodiversity and the threats facing marine life present there. According to the report, the area’s changing salinity, depth, and levels of exposure to light, contribute to variations in substrate, flora, and fauna so that it hosts a unique mix of marine, brackish and freshwater species. Of these 71 are threatened or listed under the EU Habitats Directive or Birds Directives.

The survey was conducted to obtain a more comprehensive picture of the biodiversity in the area’s marine life and of its unique features and to thereby strengthen the case for establishing an MPA. Almost a third of the Quark’s area is already protected by different MPAs, but many of these sites do not involve specific measures to conserve natural marine features. The threats facing the Quark include eutrophication, climate change, invasive species, overfishing, and marine litter, and while creating an MPA will not directly address some of these challenges, such as climate change, it will contribute to increasing the resilience of marine life and reducing its vulnerability to these pressures.