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|Working Group: Coastal culture and maritime heritage|
Background and justification
The Baltic Sea has throughout history connected the people around it. It has been the main traffic artery in the region and an important economic base through trade, fishing, and in the coastal region agriculture and industry. For these reasons coastal culture in our countries still show important similarities, essential for understanding our common identity and history.
The coastal culture is however threatened, not only by the crisis in the traditional coastal industries, but also by the pressure of recreational activity. The coastal areas are probably the most rapidly changing environments today. Still its cultural environment is a neglected topic, both in national preservation policies and in national and international coastal and sectional policies.
A special problem exists in the coastal areas of the former Soviet Republics. Traditional trades like fishing and shipping were for different reasons prohibited and the cultural continuity was broken. It is vital that intense attempts are made to bridge this 50-year break by actions documenting the tangible and intangible heritage still existing in the area.
The care of buildings, boats, artefacts and landscapes largely depend on the existence of a resident population. As the traditional trades lose their importance or profitability, a sustainable use of the resources calls for partly new economic strategies. Often tourism is mentioned as an important source of income, but it must be treated with caution in order not to threaten the natural and cultural values that it benefits from. Nor must the environmental aspects be forgotten, as polluted water and air pose serious threats in parts of the region.
It is important to realise that heritage specialists can not preserve the coastal culture only. A positive development is for its future dependant on an active co-operation between all the organisations, authorities and ministries dealing with coastal areas in different ways and where physical planning, claim of land, development pressure etc. are important tasks to consider.