Baltic ships slammed over sewage dumping

The shipping industry has been slammed in a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report which showed that more than half of the cruises ships sailing in the Baltic dump their sewage directly into the sea.

Baltic ships slammed over sewage dumping

Each summer hundreds of ships cruise around the northern European sea, with

many continuing to dump so-called black water despite an industry pledge to

clean up its act, and despite access to proper disposal services.

“There’s no real law telling them that they can’t do that. The legislation is missing,” WWF marine expert Vanessa Kloetzer told AFP.

The European Cruise Council (ECC) pledged in May last year that cruise ships would stop dumping sewage if Baltic port cities provided adequate disposal services for no additional charge.

The WWF says that Helsinki and Stockholm meet these requirements, even though Kloetzer said there may still be some issues to address in Helsinki.

“In 2010, a total of 240 ships visited Stockholm, and of these only 115 used the port’s services and some of the 115 ships only removed a small amount of waste water,” WWF said in a press release.

The WWF also quotes data from Helsinki’s main port which shows that only 66 percent of ships used the port’s free waste disposal service.

Kloetzer said ships may opt not to take advantage of the free service because it’s simply faster to dump waste into the sea.

“All of our members have made a commitment to voluntarily discharge black water ashore where there are proper facilities,” said the ECC’s environmental spokesman Robert Ashdown.

“It’s more likely the case that the ships that aren’t using the services aren’t ECC members, or they have facilities to store waste until they reach another port,” he said.

The WWF calculates that around 350 cruise ships ply the Baltic in the summer, resulting in 18 tonnes of phosphorous and 74 tonnes of nitrogen polluting the water via sewage.

“This is a small percentage of total pollution in the Baltic, but it can have a localised effect by increasing algae bloom and it can contain harmful bacteria,” Kloetzer said.

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Sweden launches bid to become world’s top tourism destination by 2030

Forget the pyramids, the canals of Venice or the Eiffel Tower – the Swedish government has presented a plan to make Sweden the world's most attractive tourism destination by 2030 – but it's not yet clear how.

Sweden launches bid to become world's top tourism destination by 2030
Many tourists are attracted to Sweden because of its nature. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

In a press conference on Monday, Sweden’s Minister for Business, Industry and Innovation Ibrahim Baylan outlined the new strategy, which aims to make Sweden “the world’s most sustainable and attractive tourism destination built on innovation” by 2030.

Baylan referred to Sweden as a country which “is usually ranked as one of the world’s most innovative countries”, which he argued can “create value for the tourism industry”.

According to Baylan, the strategy builds on “sustainability’s three dimensions – it has to be environmentally, socially and economically sustainable”. The strategy will also “tie into the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030”, he said.

Topics covered by the new tourism strategy include the climate impact of tourism, equality and inclusion in the tourism industry and the importance of preserving shared resources such as national parks and sustainable nature tourism such as fishing and hunting.

The press release highlights the importance of natural tourism, explaining that the pandemic has led to people visiting natural and cultural environments “to a greater extent than before”, increasing wear and tear to natural areas.

DISCOVER SWEDEN: The Local’s guide to Sweden’s top destinations and hidden gems

Tourism is an important industry for Sweden, providing employment in both urban and rural areas, as well as generating wealth – before the coronavirus pandemic, the tourism industry represented on average 2.7 percent of Sweden’s GDP per year. The tourism industry also employs a high amount of people from foreign backgrounds – making up over a third (34 percent) of all employees in the industry.

During the pandemic, overnight stays declined in almost every Swedish municipality, with the biggest declines seen in Sweden’s larger cities and border municipalitites.

The government’s plans also include a focus on jobs and skill development, so that workers have the right qualifications for the industry – this reflects issues currently faced by the restaurant and hotel industry in finding skilled workers in the wake of the pandemic. 

There are currently no details as to how the government will achieve this strategy, or indeed how it will measure success. But Sweden is aiming high if it wants to be the world’s most attractive tourist destination by 2030. In 2019, it was ranked the 54th top tourist destination in the world by the UN World Tourism Organisation.