9 October 2020
The proposal for a Regional Baltic Biofouling Management Roadmap, compiled by the COMPLETE project, was presented at the 20th Meeting of the HELCOM Maritime Working Group on 5-8 October 2020. The Meeting supported the Roadmap as a good example for regional cooperation. It will now be considered by the HELCOM/OSPAR TG BALLAST to further elaborate, finalize and agree to it, followed by direct submission to HOD 59-2020 for approval and subsequent adoption by HELCOM 42-2021.
Furthermore, Maritime invited interested Contracting Parties to submit the draft Roadmap for consideration to the IMO Correspondence Group on the Review of the Biofouling Guidelines as an input from the COMPLETE Project as it provides useful input for this IMO process.
Correct identification of target species, i. e. species, which “may impair or damage the environment, human health, property or resources and are defined for a specific port, State or biogeographic region” (IMO, 2007. Guidelines for Risk Assessment Under Regulation A-4 of the BWM Convention) is of critical importance for the management of biological invasions, resulting both from ships’ ballast water and biofouling. Traditional species identification methods that are based on the morphology of organisms can be time consuming and require taxonomic expertise which is often lacking, moreover such methods may fail to identify species at early life stages. That’s why the COMPLETE project focused on the further development of molecular methods that allow quick and accurate identification of target species at any stage of life.
COMPLETE project applied for a prolongation of six months for adjusting the project activities with the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. All planned activities are expected to be finalized by the end of the prolongation period, March 2021.
COMPLETE project will be followed by an extension stage project COMPLETE PLUS “Practical implementation of the COMPLETE project outputs and tools”, receiving co-financing from the Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme. The project will start in April 2021 and end in December 2021, and it will be implemented by 11 COMPLETE project partners. The project aims to ensure that COMPLETE project outputs will be operationalized to ensure their sustainable use by all relevant actors and stakeholders. Further information about the COMPLETE PLUS will be shared at the COMPLETE web page in due time (www.balticcomplete.com).
Introduction of nonindigenous species (NIS) into a new environments is now identified as a major threat to the world`s seas and oceans biodiversity. These species are transported out of their native habitats mainly by ships, either in ballast tanks or on the hulls to which they attach. Hull`s biofouling is considered to be primary vector responsible for introduction of NIS. In the environments they are introduced to, in addition to threatening biodiversity, NIS can also have a negative impact on economic stability of the industries that depend on the coastal and marine environment. Due to this information about ship traffic and the size of hull surface that can be potentially biofouled, can be used by stakeholders and authorities for developing management strategies to minimize the NIS introduction risk. Furthermore, obtained data might be highly relevant for the waste management of hull cleaning services in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). Thus, it is important to estimate the biofouling potential of ships entering and operating in the Baltic Sea.
Due to increasing commercial shipping and boaters activity the risk of arrival of non-indigenous species (NIS) in the Baltic Sea also increases. Hull fouling is considered to be one of a main vectors of NIS introduction beyond their natural range. Thus nonindigenous species are observed first in port areas. However not only ports and marinas are vulnerable to invasions but also other places which offer favorable settlement surfaces for these species, ranging from quays and piers in ports to offshore hard surfaces of drilling units or wind farms. Sensitive areas, e.g. marine protective areas (MPAs), but also industrial seawater discharge sites or nuclear plant sites where water is warmer than nearby are prone to be invaded by NIS as well.
Molecular techniques are advancing rapidly and are increasingly promoted in aquatic systems observations. These methods are particularly useful for early detection of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens (HAOP) which may be transported in ballast water or on ship hulls including potential HAOP such as newly arriving non-indigenous species (NIS). The identification of NIS, surveillance of high-priority pest species, determination of the source and pathways of invasion, as well as the genetic structure of the founding populations can be solved with new tools. Molecular monitoring is needed in order to address all biotic components as NIS may belong to any trophic level and be found in various man-made as well as natural habitats.
Non-indigenous species (NIS) monitoring is to address all biotic communities as NIS may belong to any taxonomic group and be found in various man-made as well as natural habitats. There has not been a monitoring programme to target especially NIS in the Baltic Sea but presently observations have been collected from various surveys and programmes in place.
Currently in a beta-testing phase, HELCOM and OSPAR’s joint online tool for facilitating decisions on granting exemptions on ballast water management in their waters is soon getting a new interface as well as additional and improved features.
The tool was initially jointly developed by HELCOM and OSPAR to assist decision-making by their respective member countries on exemptions on ballast water management such as discharges in their waters. Since 2017, ballast water from ships is being strictly regulated by an IMO guideline, the Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC).
Did you know that crabs by crawling along the coast can overcome up to 1000 km long distance? Chinese mitten crabs are one of the species that step by step occupy Baltic Sea, bringing on their back also other small organisms. It was originally introduced to the North Sea by international shipping, and from there spread gradually also to the Baltic Sea.
To understand how these organisms spread and how to prevent Baltic Sea from new invaders, scientists from different countries work together and carry out many activities in ports, marinas and laboratories all around the Baltic sea. Now some of these activities, performed by COMPLETE project partners, are documented in a movie called “Baltic hitchhikers”.
The main target of this documentary is to raise public awareness of spread of invasive species in Baltic Sea via shipping. 26 minutes long documentary is focusing on biofouling issues and illustrates how species can travel around when they attach to the hulls of ships and leisure boats. In the documentary experts and sailors explains what kind of impact small organisms can have on sailing and also environment. In the documentary it is possible not only to learn about concrete examples and sailors experience, but also find out what scientists do to “catch” traces left by these organisms and how new research and monitoring methods can be implemented in the Baltic Sea region
Keep the Archipelago Tidy Association (KAT) is a Finnish environmental organisation for boaters and all those travelling in and around Finnish waterways. The association was established in 1969 and it serves the archipelago and coastal regions, as well as the network of lakes in the Finnish Lakeland region. The activities of the association are diverse and concrete, ranging from environmental maintenance and educational work to national and international project work. Projects often concentrate on issues concerning boating, marine litter, eutrophication, and the influx of harmful chemicals in the Baltic Sea.