Public preferences regarding use and condition of the Baltic Sea - An international comparison informing marine policy
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Marine environments and the ecosystem services they provide are threatened throughout the world. Using an extensive data set obtained from a coordinated survey across all nine littoral countries, this study examines the recreational use of and public perceptions towards the Baltic Sea, providing support for marine policies, including the European Union Marine Strategy Framework Directive. The findings indicate that the Baltic Sea is an important recreation area for residents of the littoral states, as the majority of people spend leisure time there. Swedes, Danes and Finns use the sea the most, and the most common activities are beach recreation and swimming. People are concerned over the state of the Baltic Sea, especially in Finland, Russia and Sweden. Poles, Danes and Finns have the most positive attitude towards contributing financially to improving the state of the Baltic Sea. Additional coordinated research efforts across all nine littoral countries are needed to quantify the monetary benefits of improving the state of the sea. However, even the present results provide evidence on the cultural importance of the Baltic Sea, suggesting that policy makers need to take stronger action to sustain the provision of recreational ecosystem services and safeguarding the well-being of marine ecosystems to the current and future generations.