Both, industrial and agricultural waste represents a threat to the eastern GoF and its ecosystem from the Estonian and Russian side. Besides this, several HS are released to the Gulf environment from wastewater treatment plants (e.g. pharmaceuticals) or from harbours (e.g. biocides, heavy metals) and accumulate in the sediments and aquatic organisms. HS cause degradation of marine habitats, disorder in biological processes of organisms and finally decline of biodiversity and bioresources in the area. The need to develop GoF-wide biological effects monitoring to facilitate a reliable assessment of HS has been emphasized in the Baltic Sea Action Plan of the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM). The close cooperation of countries and institutions surrounding the eastern GoF will secure profound and uniform status and impact assessment results for the area and, in turn, contributes to the Baltic-wide MSFD implementation activities. Hence, the project contributes to policy-driven and solution-oriented cross-border studies for the protection of the GoF.
The project will concentrate on priority substances included in the HELCOM Core Indicators list – e.g. heavy metals, PAHs, PCBs, organotins, PFOSs and pharmaceuticals (e.g. diclofenac) considering their presence in the marine environment and estimating their effect on the biological processes of the key species (crustaceans, molluscs) of the eastern GoF. During the project, several bioindication methods (embryo malformations in amphipods, cardiac rhythm deviations, biomarkers of the antioxidant defense system (ADS), sediment/water exposure tests) and field transplantation studies using caged mussels will be used to assess the biological effect of HS for different species, and under different environmental conditions. Hence, also their effectiveness will be described. This integrated approach allows finding the link between the quality of the environment and health of living organisms and helps to detect health disorders even at the low organization levels of organisms.