Danish Straits and southwestern Baltic Sea
The Helsinki Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area includes the Baltic Sea and the Kattegat, without calling Kattegat a part of the Baltic Sea, "For the purposes of this Convention the 'Baltic Sea Area' shall be the Baltic Sea and the Entrance to the Baltic Sea, bounded by the parallel of the Skaw in the Skagerrak at 57°44.43'N."
Historically, the Kingdom of Denmark collected Sound Dues from ships at the border between the ocean and the land-locked Baltic Sea. They were collected in the Øresund at Kronborg castle near Helsingør, in the Great Belt at Nyborg. In the Little Belt, the site of intake was moved to Fredericia, after that stronghold had been built. The narrowest part of Little Belt is the "Middelfart Sund" near Middelfart.
Geographers widely agree that the preferred physical border of the Baltic is a line drawn through the southern Danish islands,
Drogden-Sill and Langeland. The Drogden Sill is situated north of Køge Bugt and connects Dragør in the south of Copenhagen to Malmö; it is used by the Øresund Bridge, including the Drogden Tunnel. By this definition, the Danish Straits are part of the entrance, but the Bay of Mecklenburg and the Bay of Kiel are parts of the Baltic Sea. Another usual border is the line between Falsterbo, Sweden and Stevns Klint, Denmark, as this is the southern border of Øresund. It's also the border between the shallow southern Øresund (with a typical depth of 5–10 meters only) and notably deeper water.
Hydrography and biology
Drogden Sill (depth of 7 m (23 ft)) sets a limit to Øresund and Sill (depth of 18 m (59 ft)), and a limit to the Belt Sea. The shallow sills are obstacles to the flow of heavy salt water from the Kattegat into the basins around Bornholm and Gotland.
The Kattegat and the southwestern Baltic Sea are well oxygenated and have a rich biology. The remainder of the Sea is brackish, poor in oxygen and in species. Thus, statistically, the more of the entrance that is included in its definition, the healthier the Baltic appears; conversely, the more narrowly it is defined, the more endangered its biology appears.