Bumper year feared for Baltic toxic algae

High nutrient levels lead scientists to forecast worst blooms for at least five years

The Finnish environment institute yesterday issued an alarming forecast of widespread growth of toxic algae in the Baltic Sea this summer. Blooms are expected to be much worse than in any of the previous four years, especially if the summer is warm. "Very high risk areas" include the Gulf of Finland, southern parts of the Archipelago Sea, and waters off south-east Sweden.

The prognosis is based on measurements of nutrient levels made all over the Baltic Sea. Nutrient emissions and subsequent eutrophication are one of the region's principal environmental challenges. Last autumn the regional environmental protection commission Helcom reported that countries bordering the Baltic had failed to meet a target for halving nutrient emissions between 1998 and 1995 (EED 03/09/01).

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