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BALTIC SEA

Fishing industry quiet on worms in cod: report

A growing seal population in the Baltic sea has brought with it an unwanted consequence - the cod worm (anisakis), which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and intense stomach aches if ingested, is steadily becoming more common in the Baltic area.

Fishing industry quiet on worms in cod: report

But the Swedish fishing industry has kept a tight lid on information about the growing numbers, according to a report in newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN).

“The worry is that it’ll have very negative consequences, and that people will stop eating fish. So we want more information on the subject and so far this has not been a financial priority,” Sven-Gunnar Lunneryd, an expert on seals, told the newspaper.

Though the symptoms usually disappear within two weeks, severe cases can see the cod worm eating its way through the stomach and showing up in other places in the body.

According to the DN report, one unlucky man in the United States suffered from a truly stubborn cod worm after eating sushi.

The parasite crawled up his esophagus, and from there proceeded to eat its way through into the man’s neck.

Another incident reported by the paper was one sufferer who coughed up live worms after experiencing a ticklish and achy throat.

But when a similar revelation was made in Germany in the 1980’s it caused a significant drop in fish consumption and authorities are fearing the same will happen in Sweden, Lunneryd told the paper.

“There aren’t any reports about this being common in the Baltic, so I got interested and looked through 2,000 fishes collected in the area. From these we can see that the parasite is quite common.”

Southern areas of Sweden, including the southern coast of Skåne and the waters outside Blekinge and Öland, seem to be hit especially hard.

According to Lunneryd, this is well known among his co-workers at the Swedish Board of Fisheries (Fiskeriverket, now Havs- och vattenmyndigheten).

But even so, he says no official investigations have been made, nor have any reports been written. In fact, Lunneryd’s study was made in his own free time.

One person who’s seen the cod worm up close is Harry Löfgren, who was just about to eat his newly-caught cod on Friday when he received a nasty surprise.

“I noticed something moving in my sauce,” the 9-year-old told DN.

Despite his father cooking the fresh caught cod, the worms, which were “yellow and about a centimeter long”, were very much alive, according to the newspaper.

“Next time we will freeze the fillets before we cook them,” the boy told the paper.

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ENVIRONMENT

Sweden lags in Baltic Sea protection efforts

Sweden is not meeting its targets for restoring the Baltic sea, and neither are any of the other eight countries bordering the sea, according to a report published on Monday by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Sweden lags in Baltic Sea protection efforts

The Baltic Action Plan was signed in Krakow, Poland, in 2007, with the aim of restoring the Baltic Sea’s marine environments by 2021 with cooperation from the nine countries bordering the sea.

On Monday, the WWF stated that all of the countries are not up to scratch in following the 56 proposed actions to save the sea, and that they all appear destined to fail in each objective by 2021.

Objectives include eutrophication, pollution, shipping and biodiversity. Sweden is particularly lacking when it comes to meeting the target for biodiversity protection, being the worst of the Baltic Sea countries.

Sweden was ranked equal third with Estonia in the report, following Finland and Germany. Lithuania and Russia claimed the bottom places.

“This is urgent. All countries are far behind. If they do not make a real effort, the entire plan risks being overturned,” Håkan Wirtén, Secretary General of WWF, said in a statement.

“To avoid or postpone investments to protect and restore the Baltic Sea is not responsible behaviour. Nor is this something that we who live around the sea can accept. The later we act, the more expensive it becomes,” said Åsa Andersson, Director of WWF’s aquatic unit.

The Baltic Sea, one of the world’s largest brackish water bodies, is in danger due to the increasing human usage of the water, but also because of its low level of water exchange.

The Baltic Sea countries will meet on October 3rd in Copenhagen to oversee the action plans.

TT/The Local/ep

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