Public consultation on Baltic assessment is an opportunity for your participation in decision-making

Konsultacje społeczne

The Chief Inspector of Environmental Protection (GIOŚ), in accordance with the Water Law, has announced public consultations on drafts of two important marine documents. The first is an assessment of the condition of marine waters, and the second is a set of characteristics typical of good marine waters. Both documents are the result of the second update. Do you know what goals we should achieve for the Polish Baltic area and what they entail? Now you have a chance not only to get information, but also to voice your own opinion about it. The public consultation of the documents has been running since January 20, and comments can be submitted until February 9, 2024.

Public consultation – active participation

The public consultation procedure allows for the active participation of all stakeholders. Each of us, NGOs and other entities have 21 days to make comments and suggestions on the content of these documents. In the meantime, we have a chance to participate in shaping the future of marine waters. To do so, simply visit the GIOŚ website, where both drafts and comment forms are available for review.

The Chief Inspector of Environmental Protection is the competent authority to consider submitted comments and opinions. It is the GIOŚ that will analyze all the information provided, and take the conclusions into account when creating the final versions of the documents. The refusal to consider the comment must be justified and made public. Therefore, public consultation is an important mechanism for our participation and allows for real involvement of all stakeholders in the process of shaping marine environmental policy. The final shape of the documents, which will be created after taking into account the comments and opinions submitted, is likely to reflect diverse perspectives and needs.

Documents subject to consultation

European Union member states, as required by the Marine Strategy Framework Directive(MSFD)), were required to perform an initial assessment of the environmental status of marine waters (under Article 8) and to create a set of characteristics defining good environmental status of the marine environment (under Article 9) in 2012. The directive also requires regular updates every six years. The first documents were created in Poland in 2018, and we have now seen an update, which is subject to public consultation.

Assessment of the state of marine waters

The draft of the second update of the preliminary assessment of the state of the marine water environment aims to comprehensively assess their current state in the Polish Baltic Sea zone. It focuses on a detailed analysis of the various aspects that make up this environment, including physical-geographic, hydrological and hydrodynamic characteristics. The document examines not only the natural features and characteristics of marine waters, but also focuses on understanding the human impact on these ecosystems. In particular, it analyzes the prevailing anthropogenic pressures, taking into account cumulative impacts and synergies between them, and is based on assessments carried out in accordance with applicable laws.

In addition, the document includes an economic and social analysis of the use of marine waters in terms of both the benefits and costs associated with the degradation of the environment in question. This part of the analysis is aimed at understanding the impact that human activities have on the marine environment, both from an economic and social perspective.

A set of characteristics typical of good marine water status

A key element of the second update of the preliminary assessment of the status of marine waters is a revised set of characteristics of good status for this ecosystem. The document defines standards and parameters that indicate what conditions must be met to be able to talk about the “good condition” of a given environment. In creating this set, current knowledge of the functioning and processes of the sea was taken into account. This approach has translated into a variety of indicators that are tailored to specific conditions. Various aspects, such as the physical, chemical and hydromorphological characteristics of the waters, the diversity of habitat types, and the biological features of marine areas, are included in this set. When developing the set, data from measurements and scientific studies were also taken into account, which made it possible to create a comprehensive and accurate picture of the state of the environment.

The two documents in question play a key role in the effective protection and management of the marine environment: the first is a detailed assessment of the state of the waters, identifying the main problems and challenges, while the second defines the criteria for good environmental status, enabling the setting of conservation targets and monitoring their implementation. Public consultation is an opportunity to influence marine conservation policy, which is important for the future of ecosystems. Therefore, we encourage you to actively participate in this consultation and work together for the benefit of the Baltic.