Human activities along the Baltic Sea coasts imply threats and problems to the Baltic Sea natural coastal ecosystem, and environmental as well as recreational values.
The aim with this map is to provide a picture of general trends in coastal protection and highlight specific hot spots, all along the Baltic Sea coasts, symbolising present or upcoming threats. Citizens in the Baltic Sea region, as well as politicians and officials, should be concerned about the constantly ongoing threats to Baltic Sea coastal environmental values, and search for possible solutions to safeguard the coastal environment and guarantee goals of biodiversity protection and recreational values. Adequate and detailed spatial planning and management plans are needed for all Baltic Coastal areas.

Finnish law has no general protection for the coastal strip. Therefore there is a risk of overexploitation of shorelines, and recreational use might be suffering. Ecologically important shallow areas are threatened by multiple pressures from increasing property development.

A general plan for coastal development of the Russian part of the Gulf of Finland and Kaliningrad coastal areas does not exist. The coastal zone, with important natural, cultural and historical values, is exposed to intensive industrial pressure and becomes a site for implementation of projects with potential trans-boundary impact. The existence of international Ramsar sites (Kurgalsky, Lebyazhye, Berezovye Islands) with a wide biodiversity and several regional nature protected areas are not taken into account when harmful installations are planned and realized. Officially, Russian legislation, and international treaties where Russian Federation is a party, demand that all installations are subject to Public Environmental Expert Review. However, the new Russian legislation, amended in 2007, has practically abandoned the environmental examination of hazardous activities, as well as their EIA. Decisions on the implementation of projects, which have the transboundary impact on the whole Baltic region, are taken on the Federal level. Regional authorities are appointed by the President of Russia, and therefore, do not feel the responsibility towards residents of the region. Municipal authorities and local communities are simply notified about the planned projects, justified by national interests. In addition, there is no national Russian mechanism to effectively implement the international legal rules to mitigate potential transboundary impact of planned environmental harmful installations, because Russia has signed, but not yet ratified the Espoo Convention.

The Water Code of Russian Federation determines Coastal Protection Strip as 500 m from the shoreline landwards. Yet, planning, constructing, and operation of industrial and other objects are allowed within the Coastal Protection Strip.

There are several administrative shortcomings in nature protection valid also for coastal zone management, for example limited number of supervisory authorities. Decision-making within other sectoral policies does not take into account nature protection values and requirements. Detailed plans are focused on the interests of the developer and not enough related to general or thematic planning and nature protection and recreational values in the coastal zones. In December 2008 the government approved the new start of redrafting the Action Plan for Nature Protection in Estonia with the aim to cover more requirements from related sector policy areas and international conventions. The protected coastal strip in Estonia is 200 m.

Protection of the coastal strip in Latvia is being ensured through the Law on Protected Strips. Any new buildings and other infrastructure developments are strictly limited within 300 m of special coastal protection strip in forest and dune areas and 150 m in villages and settlement areas. New constructions and infrastructure objects in the area of protected strips are allowed only according to the local special planning regulations which have to be approved by the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Regional Development at the final stage.

Currently Lithuanian legislation system describes coastal area as 100 m of land from the waterline and water area up to 20 m depth. All coastal area is state property, unless land was private before coastal zone law come into force. Basically no new constant construction can be created, unless granted special permission. Detailed management of coastal zone and granting of special permissions are performed by coastal cities authorities and national parks.

The coastal strip protection for the Polish coastline reaches 100-200 m inland, depending of the type of coast. The protective belt in Poland reaches normally up to 2 km inland from the coastal protection boundary. In some areas it reaches up to 5 km and in urban areas it can be much narrower. However, the law is often broken due to various engineering constructions, e.g. seaside promenades along the sea shore, and protection against the danger of erosion by coastal defence constructions is missing. The total length of the Polish coastline, including the Szczecin Lagoon and the Gdansk Gulf is over 800 km. More than half of the Polish dunes and coastal zone, as well as 2/3 of the cliff shores, have been devastated, although, since the introduction of the Natura 2000 network the situation has improved a bit.

Although the two Baltic coastal states in Germany have a protected coastal strip of 100 m (Schleswig-Holstein) or 200 m (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern) where building is severely restricted, the overall situation is not at all satisfying. Construction activities on the coast have become a lot easier during the past years due to a different attitude in planning authorities and some changes in laws and regulations. Also, activities for widespread flood protection still heavily interfere with a natural environment of the seashore.

Today it is possible for the municipal authorities in Denmark to practice stricter environmental security measures when they assess the impact of big scale farming on the environment. Despite the availability of this kind of regulation the opportunity is not used

Natura 2000 areas in Denmark are already overloaded by increased emissions of agriculture nutrients. New permissions for farm production in Natura 2000 areas and in coastal zones should in fact for several years have included reductions in permitted emissions of nutrients – but the opposite has happened. So far harmful agricultural practices have outweighed a growing public concern for the condition of the environment.

In 2008, the Danish Society for Nature Conservation, DN, has adopted a new agricultural strategy. DN will work for farming in Denmark to become 100% organic by the middle of the century. Big scale farming is no longer to be allowed in environmentally valuable areas, including coastal zones, and should meet the same regulations as other industrial businesses.

In Sweden, 100 m from the shoreline, landwards and seawards, is generally protected from construction, and in some areas extended to 300 m.