Guest Post by Barbara Jackson, Campaign Director, Race for the Baltic

Race for the Baltic will work to bring together all the stakeholders affected by the degradation of the Baltic Sea, and by doing so create a coalition of leadership made up of NGOs, businesses, concerned citizens and forward-thinking politicians who are determined to reverse the negative trends and restore the Baltic Sea environment. On the 8th June, World Ocean Day, cyclists from the Race for the Baltic team  embarked from Malmö on a 3 month journey cycling 3 500km of Baltic Sea coastline to raise awareness and collecting signatures for action to restore the environmental health of the Baltic Sea.

Today is a big day for us. We have been out on the road for 50 days. We have visited 6 countries, 40 cities, cycled 2500+ km and created/participated in over 20 events, seminars, activities and organized gatherings – all in efforts to tell our politicians that we care about the Baltic Sea and we want change now.

Baltic RacersThe Baltic Sea is surrounded by nine countries. Several of these countries are known for their green ways of living and sustainability expertise. However, the Baltic Sea remains one of the most polluted seas in the world.

How did this come about? The Baltic Sea is a unique brackish sea with its water being refreshed only about every 30 years due only one narrow opening near Denmark.

This, coupled with agricultural, industrial and wastewater run-­‐off have all led to the deterioration of the water quality over the past decades. In fact, one sixth of the Sea bottom is actually already dead. This is the size of Denmark. The sea is also being overfished and according to WWF, more than 50% of the commercial fish species are overfished at this point.
This is why we have committed ourselves to cycle every day this summer. We see ourselves as investigators and message carriers for the Baltic Sea.

Today, we arrived to the beautiful coastal city, Klaipeda in Lithuanian. We have met with locals to learn about the local challenges and struggles. One of them was local fisherman who explains that he is too often coming up with empty nets, which forces the younger generation on the coast to move abroad to find better jobs.

“The Baltic Sea was once a source of resource and prosperity”, he explains to us. “Today, there are no fish and young people are moving.”

We also participated in the Klaipedia Sea Festival and even though most of us do not speak the language, we were able to have basic conversations with the locals and collect signatures for the Race for the Baltic petition.

So far, we have collected almost 20.000 signatures in support of stopping overfishing, creating 30% marine protected areas and to better regulate agriculture runoff. We will submit these names at the HELCOM Ministerial meeting in Copenhagen this October so that our politicians are acutely aware of the fact that we care about the Baltic Sea. We want to have a sea to swim in and to share with our children, but most importantly, we want to have a sea that is alive.

We hope that you too wish to support our campaign. It doesn’t matter where you are, or what sea is your sea. This is a global problem and we need action now.

Sign here and share with your friends. We can do this together!

Baltic RacersBarbara Jackson Campaign Director
Baltic Racers