bcBalticSea2020 was founded by Mr, Björn Carlson through a donation of 500 million SEK. The assets shall finance projects that are action-orientated, innovative and can contribute to improve the knowledge of the Baltic Sea. The foundations capital shall be used continuously until 2020, hence the name of the foundation. During the years the market value of the foundation's financial assets has developed positively, which means that at year-end 2016/2017 there were still approximately 200 million SEK to be granted to projects. Since the foundation started its work in 2006 the board has granted approximately 550 million SEK to projects within Fishery, Eutrophication and Information. In total the foundation has initiated more than 94 projects of which approximately 18 are currently ongoing.

Our vision and program statement
Between 2006 and 2007 the BalticSea2020´s board focused on understanding the Baltic Sea’s challenges. In consultation with the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences a Scientific Advisory Board was established, consisting of eminent scientists. During this period, several projects were generated which purposes were to establish new knowledge but also analyze and summarize existing knowledge. The work resulted in establishing the foundation’s focus areas -  Fishing and Eutrophication. Since then, three more fields of work have been added. In 2007 Opinion & Film saw the start and in 2010 the foundations´ board founded Living coast. 2013 the fifth field of work was determined when the foundation signed an agreement with the University of Stockholm to start "Baltic Eye" with its purpose to synthesize, popularize and provide knowledge about the Baltic Sea to decision-makers and the public. In 2014 the decision to remake the foundation's program areas was made, mainly to clarify the foundation's work. The new program areas are Fishery, Eutrophication and Information.

Present program areas

2007 saw the start of a number of research projects that aimed to clarify the role of fishing and fish in the Baltic Sea, and how management functioned and could be improved in the region and the EU. From 2008, the foundation has invested considerable resources in disseminating information about the role of fishing as an environmental catalyst for the Baltic Sea, including to politicians and officials in the region, the European Parliament and the European Commission. Among other things, in 2010 the foundation contributed to scientific surveys of the role of cod in the Baltic Sea’s ecosystem and the links between cod stocks and algal blooms. When the European Commission presented its first proposal for a new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) in July 2011, the foundation began a comprehensive lobbying campaign that aimed to secure the contents of the commission’s progressive proposals. In its lobbying, BalticSea2020 has particularly emphasised the following: the ecosystem approach (all the environmental effects of fisheries management shall be considered); MSY (fish stocks shall be greater than the Maximum Sustainable Yield); prohibiting discards (all fish that are caught shall be landed and subtracted from the annual quota); regionalisation (management shall be decided by the EU, while application is carried out by member states); individual transferable quotas (to deal with overcapacity, fishing vessels should be allocated time-limited concessions that may be sold). In total, the foundation has met and discussed the CFP with more than 200 politicians from twelve countries. The new CFP came into force on 1 January 2014.

The expectations of the new fishing legislation were high, but soon it was clear that the situation in the Baltic Sea was anything but satisfactory. The cods became smaller and it has been increasingly difficult to age-determine the individuals - adult cods look like teenagers and juveniles look like herring. Fishermen could not even catch their allocated quotas. In recent years, a stationary, small sized cod stock has been established which is in poor condition to follow their pray. In order to reverse the negative trend, the foundation has decided to once again start working for the cod. First and foremost, the public must be informed of the cods’ situation. Simultaneously an investigation started to determine the value of cod fishing from different perspective and the possibilities for a trawling ban in the Baltic Sea. The project started in 2017 and will continue for several years.
The foundation also funds a major international project that will be of great importance to the future management of cod, called TABACOD. The purpose of the project is to solve the problem of age determination of cod. In order to manage cod, researchers need to be able to estimate the age of cod which, in turn, provides knowledge about the composition of the stock. These facts are important in the EU Commission´s decision making when setting annual fishing quotas. The project is led by Karin Hüssy at DTU Aqua and is conducted in collaboration with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), the Thünen Institute in Rostock (TI-OSF) and the National Marine Fisheries Research Institute in Gdynia (NMFRI).

In 2010, a partnership project began with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), in order to raise awareness of MSC in the Baltic Sea region. The aim was to help consumers to buy legally caught fish from sustainable and well-managed stocks. During the first three years, the project focused on Sweden, Denmark and Germany. In 2013, additional funds were provided for the establishment of MSC in Poland and Finland. The project has been prominent in raising awareness about MSC in the Baltic Sea Region.

2010 also saw the start of an important coastal project with Sportfiskarna – “Wetland restoration for viable predatory fish stocks”. Initially, a pilot study was financed for the purpose of identifying areas that were suitable for use as “fingerling factories” for pike and perch. The project developed into a full-scale pilot project, primarily focusing on perch.

In 2011, the foundation started a partnership project with the WWF in Poland, which was later expanded to include the Society for Nature Conservation in Lithuania. The aim was to develop knowledge and methods for removing ghost nets from the Baltic Sea. The project succeeded in gathering 40 tonnes of ghost nets and establishing an interactive database where fishermen could report lost nets. The database is now administered by the Polish coastguard.

To read more about the foundation’s projects in the Fishery programme area, please click here.

Several of the early scientific projects in the Eutrophication programme area have contributed to developing and shaping the foundation’s position. For example, “Ecological Engineering” which investigated whether it is possible to mechanically oxygenate open sea and coastal zones. Two applied research projects were initiated in 2009. “Environmental mussels”, which aimed to develop mussel farming into a cost-effective environmental measure to improve the quality of coastal waters in the Baltic Sea, and “Actions to counteract phosphorus leaching from agriculture” which surveyed the potential for phosphor reduction and the cost-effectiveness of ditch pools and ditch filters. The results show that mussel farming is not a cost-effective way of cleaning the Baltic Sea, while ditch filters have a great deal of potential as an environmental measure in agriculture.

In 2009, the foundation produced the report “Best practice manure handling”, which identified safe storage of pig manure, separation technologies and active phosphorus management as three methods with great potential to reduce nutrient leakage from industrial livestock farms. The report became the starting point for the foundation’s current ten-year “Intensive Pig Production Program (IPPP)”, which aims to "use in-depth knowledge of cost-effective methods and technologies, demonstration facilities, knowledge dissemination and lobbying – to prevent nutrient leakage from intensive pig production and agriculture into the Baltic Sea”. This project is now entering an exciting phase in which work on establishing measures in Poland has begun in partnership with local agricultural stakeholders. In parallel with the practical work, a white book is being written about the measures, their effectiveness and applicability. The white book will be presented and disseminated to stakeholders in the entire region once the project has finished.

In the autumn of 2010, the foundation established a large scale project called “Living Coast”. The project’s aim is to “use the introduction of known measures – both on land and in the water, to improve turbidity, reduce algal growth and increase levels of fish stocks” in a limited but representative area of the Stockholm archipelago. The final aim is to write a white book about how eutrophic coastal areas can be restored, and at what cost. The project was officially opened in the spring of 2012, by Minister for the Environment Lena Ek, when measures began on land and in the water of Björnöfjärden’s bay system. By the end of 2014 the project had conducted ten or so measures and research projects. These include: aluminium treatment to permanently bind phosphorus in bottom sediment; establishing ditch filters and phosphorus ponds alongside fields, upgrading drains and process instructions for nearby agriculture and stables. Additionally, further measures are being taken to stimulate the reestablishment of flora and fauna in bottoms and in water, such as introducing bladderwrack and establishing breeding areas for pike and perch. To date, the results of these investments is that the water in the bays can now be classed as having a “good environmental status”. Almost all measures were implemented in 2016, and the project is now focused on compiling, analyzing and describing the results and completing the white book. Next step will be to disseminate the results to actors and institutions around the Baltic Sea.

To read more about the foundation’s projects in the Eutrophication programme area, please click here.

One of the foundation’s most long-term commitments is Folke Rydén and Mattias Klum’s ten-year film project (Baltic Sea Media Project, BASMAP) which, in an innovative way, will raise awareness in the 90 million people who live around the Baltic Sea regarding the treats and opportunities that this inland sea is facing. Since 2009, the foundation has financed four television documentaries: “Alla torskar” (2009), which deals with Baltic fisheries and fisheries management, “Vårt grisiga hav” (2011) examining how eutrophication is affected by industrial livestock farming, and “Den andra vågen” (2013) which looks at how environmental toxins have an impact on humans. The fourth documentary, “Hotet på havet” began airing in 2015. The documentary depicts the scale of shipping and its effect on the Baltic Sea. The television documentaries have been broadcast in all the countries around the Baltic Sea, as well as in France and Canada. In 2013, the film “Betraktaren” depicting life in and around the Baltic Sea, was broadcast on television and showed viewers the beauty of the Baltic’s flora and fauna. The second film in this series will be completed in 2017 and broadcast in 2018.

In parallel with the documentary films, educational material has been produced for secondary school pupils, consisting of films and associated study materials. More than 40,000 teacher copies of this school package have been distributed in Sweden and Finland, and it is estimated that more than 500,000 pupils have worked with the material.

In 2010, the foundation initiated a film project led by Joakim Odelberg to document littering and ghost fishing in the Baltic Sea. The film was broadcast in several Nordic countries and has attracted media attention, as well as winning several awards. In 2012, the foundation gave funding for a follow-up to the first film in order to further highlight the issue and include more countries in the work to remove ghost nets.

In February 2013, BalticSea2020 allocated SEK 100 million to the founding of Baltic Eye, a project that is run in cooperation with Stockholm University. The purpose is: Baltic Eye will strengthen scientific knowledge of the Baltic Sea and provide decision-makers with tools and information for dealing with environmental problems in the inland sea, using long-term analyses, syntheses and evaluations. The researchers at Baltic Eye will, among other things, work with “The agriculture’s environmental impact” focusing on measures to counteract nutrient leaching and its effect on the Baltic Sea, among other things. “Drainage basin dynamics” focusing on the Baltic Sea region’s nutrient and pollutant flows. “Environmental toxins” focusing on chemical pollutants in the Baltic Sea. “Fish and fishery issues” focusing on the Baltic Sea’s fisheries management from an ecosystem perspective. “Marine habitats” focusing on the management of marine ecosystems and the protected areas, among other things. “Bottom sediment dynamics” focusing on the storage of nutrients and environmental toxins, among other things.

BalticSea2020 and Skansen started a close cooperation in 2015 in order to build a unique knowledge center about the Baltic Sea at Skansen. The aim is to increase public awareness of the sea as well as offer a space where students can learn more about the sea and its future. The Baltic Sea Science Center will consist of exhibitions, aquariums, classrooms and laboratories. The visitors will meet fish such as cod, turbot, sea trout and different types of plat life in three large aquariums. The educational spaces, primarily for high school students, will highlight four different environmental challenges - eutrophication, overfishing, environmental damage and depleted diversity, current research and future solutions. There will also be a school-room and laboratory- a place for the next generation to create conditions for a cleaner sea.

To read more about the foundation’s projects in the Information programme area, please click here.