Protect the Baltic Harbour Porpoise in the South Baltic Sea Region, Sweden.

The harbour porpoise is the only resident whale in the Baltic Sea, but this population is critically endangered. In December 2016, the Swedish government designated a large area, where the harbour porpoises are thought to breed, as a Natura 2000 site. In this project, we will develop management actions and mitigation measures in dialogue with stakeholders, to ensure that the protected area is effective for the conservation of the harbour porpoise population.

Situation and Background

The Baltic Proper harbour porpoise is a separate population which is listed by the IUCN and HELCOM as critically endangered. The primary threat to the population is bycatch in gillnet fisheries, but also underwater noise from anthropogenic activities, environmental contaminants and ecosystem changes are thought to affect the population status. While Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) cannot address all of these threats, protected areas are generally thought to be important instruments in the protection of marine mammals such as porpoises.

The SAMBAH project (2010-2015) investigated for the first time the distribution and abundance of porpoises in almost the entire Baltic Proper. This research identified a large area around the offshore banks in the Baltic Proper thought to be an important breeding site for the Baltic Sea population. This breeding area is almost entirely situated in Swedish waters, and based on these results, the Swedish government decided to designate this area as a Natura 2000 site for harbour porpoises in December 2016.

However, for the MPA to have any real effect on the status of the harbour porpoise population, measures to mitigate any threats needs to be specified in a management plan for the area. Such mitigation measures may include for example fisheries regulations and limitations for shipping. In this project, we will support the County Administrative Boards (CABs) in engaging stakeholders in dialogue about these mitigation measures, through practical arrangements of meetings, funding travels for participants, supplying expert support when needed, and through facilitating dialogue. The aim is for this support to result in management measures that are widely supported by stakeholders, which greatly increases chances of success.

The project will also carry out communication activities, through social media as well as in cooperation with Kolmården Wildlife Park, ultimately aiming to increase and make clear the public support for protecting the Baltic Sea harbour porpoise, encouraging politicians to take the critical decisions on management of the protected area.

Project Activities and Effects

The main goal of the proposed project is to secure a well-managed MPA covering the main breeding area for harbour porpoises in the Baltic Sea, to ultimately improve the status of the Baltic Sea population. To reach this main goal the objectives and the activities to achieve them are:

1) to Ensure stakeholder involvement and buy-in

  • Establishing CCB as a facilitator of the stakeholder dialogue
  • Mapping of Swedish and Baltic Sea Region stakeholders
  • Facilitating stakeholder dialogue

2) to Facilitate the process

  • Bringing in legal and scientific expertise
  • Preparing draft proposals for management plan and fisheries regulations
  • Organising a reference group

3) to Support and extend the political interest in the protection of harbour porpoises and the new MPA

  • Lobbying directed at politicians and ministry and agency staff
  • Social media campaign
  • Targeted communication efforts
  • Dialogue with national representatives in other countries

4) to Monitor and evaluate the process and the project

  • Project management and monitoring
  • Evaluation

The target groups for objective 1 and 2 are the key players in the process, i.e. the stakeholders and the authorities ultimately responsible for the management of the MPA. The target groups for objective 3 is the general public and ultimately decision makers such as politicians, since they have to take the final decision on the management of the area. The target groups for objective 4 is CCB itself, to evaluate the project success, but also other NGOs who may want to carry out a similar project or be part of a similar process in another area and who may learn from this project. The Baltic Sea Conservation Foundation is another target group for this objective, both as the financier and as an organisation which may also be interested in this type of process in the future.


The CCB´s main partners are the County Administrative Boards of Kalmar and Gotland, as well as Kolmården Wildlife Park.


Coalition Clean Baltic (CCB)

County Administrative Boards of Kalmar and Gotland, Kolmården Wildlife Park

Project region
Southern Baltic Sea Region, mainly in Swedish EEZ

Project duration start and end dates

Total projekt budget:  € 274.330
funding baltfc:              € 210.230
other donors:                € 64.100

Coalition Clean Baltic


Photo: Sven Koschinski/Fjord&Baelt Kerteminde DK



Project Area