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Lessons from the regulatory approaches to combat eutrophication in the Baltic Sea region

Journal article
Authors Brita Bohman
Published in Marine Policy
Volume 98
Pages 227-236
ISSN 0308-597X
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Law
Pages 227-236
Language en
Keywords Law; Ocean governance; Baltic Sea; Eutrophication
Subject categories Other Natural Sciences, Law and Society


Ever since the problem of eutrophication emerged, many approaches have been tested within the Helsinki Convention regime to reduce the discharges of nutrients to the sea. Despite important reductions in the levels of discharge since the 1970s, the nutrient loads to the sea are still significant and need to be further reduced. At the same time, it has become increasingly difficult to reduce the pollution that causes eutrophication. This difficulty is due to the complex nature of most pollution sources currently and the diffuse releases mainly related to agricultural activities and animal production. The regulatory structure for eutrophication in the Baltic Sea region has, however, adjusted rather well to these circumstances. The development over the past decade, since the introduction of the MSFD and the BSAP, progressed in adjusting the whole HELCOM regime to an ecosystem approach. Structures were created that embrace the new demands on the regulation through this approach. These structures put additional challenges on the perception of law, the general functions of the legal system, and how to assess and enforce compliance. The new structures not only create a kind of flexibility and openness to new regulatory approaches and soft law measures, but also combine law with governance and bridge the area of strict legal regulation with voluntary measures and projects. This combination of law with governance completes the overall picture of measures and approaches, but makes the line between law, extra-legal measures and non-governmental actors or organizations difficult to detect.

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