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The state of the Gulf of Finland- gaps in our present knowledge

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1 The state of the Gulf of Finland- gaps in our present knowledge
Juha-Markku Leppänen Marine Research Centre SYKE Marine Science for the Society Tuesday 21 January, Helsinki City Hall, 10.00–12.30

2 Healthy Baltic Sea It is said that when a man starts to look back he is old. When I am saying that I have a dream – I am not comparing my self to Martin Luther King, since I have many dreams. One of my dreams is very much linked to the past – meaning most probably that I am old, but, in addition, it is linking the past with the future. My dream is the healthy Baltic Sea! I would like to see the Gulf of Finland and the rest of the Baltic in the future as it was when I was a boy: when waters were clear, bladder wrack drifted every autumn into large accumulations on the shores and we used it as fertilizer in our garden, and When pikes, perches and eels were plenty. Well, dreams are dreams, now back to my presentation!

3 Content State of the Baltic Sea as assessed by HELCOM
Our obligations to protect the GOF What do we know about the environmental status of the marine environment and the pressures to affect it? Dream of the healthy Baltic Sea in practice What is good status? What is needed to assess the status? What did we report for the EU MSFD? Gaps in information and knowledge based on the results of the EU-funded GES-REG Project Level of coordination Possibilities during the GOF Year I am not going to give you an exhausted presentation on the current state of the Gulf of Finland since most of you know the facts better than I do. Instead, I am looking the environmental status of the sea as well as the gaps in knowledge based on my experience in the implementation of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan and the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive. I have not invented anything I am going to say by my self: I am relaying on the results of a just terminated EU-funded project GES-REG and HELCOM Baltic Sea Roof Report, which both scrutinized the implementation of the Directive and the HELCOM BSAP.

4 State of the Gulf of Finland
There is lot of knowledge gathered and information published on the state of the GOF. When I made a Google search… Status of the Baltic Sea 3,5 million “Status of the Gulf on Finland” 244,000 0.22 s “State of the Gulf of Finland” 156,000 0.15 s “Environment of the Gulf of Finland” 98,000 0.23 s

5 Obligations Helsinki Convention EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive
protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution through intergovernmental cooperation HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan Political commitment by all Contracting Parties EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive Legally binding for all EU Member State Maritime Doctrine of Russian Federation 2020 Legal document in Russia Development and conservation of ocean resources Integrated marine scientific research Development of systems for monitoring the marine environment and coastal areas Not all the assessments and other articles are done on the basis of scientific curiosity. There are also legal obligations for the states surrounding the Gulf of Finland to monitor the environmental status of our sea as well as the pressures affecting the marine ecosystem as well as Obligations to finally reach the GES.

6 What do we know? HELCOM Assessments
The basic facts about the state of the Baltic Sea – including the GOF – are well assessed by the HELCOM community and presented in various publications over the years. Well assessed means, however, so well than the data provided by the HELCOM CPs allows

7 State of the Baltic Sea Eutrophication HEAT CHASE BEAT
Hazardous substances Eutrophication Biodiversity Ecosystem Health In general, the status of the GOF as assessed not good. Blue represents high-confidence, green acceptable and red unacceptable confidence.

8 Dream of the healthy Baltic Sea in practice
Monitoring environment and pressures Research and scientific advice Defining good status Assessing actual status Management cycle Executing measures

9 current and future generations
What is “good status” HELCOM BSAP and MSFD A healthy Baltic Sea environment, with diverse biological components functioning in balance, resulting in a good ecological status and supporting a wide range of sustainable human economic and sustainable activities. Good Environmental Status of marine waters provide ecologically diverse and dynamic oceans and seas which are clean, healthy and productive within their intrinsic conditions, and the use of the marine environment is at a level that is sustainable, thus safeguarding the potential for uses and activities by current and future generations EUTROPHICATION Concentrations of nutrients close to natural levels Clear water Natural level of algal blooms Natural distribution and occurrence of plants and animals Natural oxygen levels HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES Concentrations of hazardous substances close to natural levels All fish are safe to eat Healthy wildlife Radioactivity at the pre-Chernobyl level BIODIVERSITY Natural marine and coastal landscapes Thriving and balanced communities of plants and animals Viable populations of species MARITIME ACTIVITIES Enforcement of international regulations – no illegal discharges Safe maritime traffic without accidental pollution Efficient emergency and response capabilities Minimum sewage pollution from ships No introductions of alien species from ships Minimum air pollution from ships Zero discharges from offshore platforms Minimum threats from offshore installations Biological diversity is maintained Non-indigenous species do not adversely alter the ecosystems Populations of all commercially exploited fish and shellfish are within safe biological limits All elements of the marine food webs occur at normal abundance and diversity Human-induced eutrophication is minimised Sea-floor integrity not adversely affected Permanent alteration of hydrographical conditions does not adversely affect marine ecosystems Concentrations of contaminants are at levels not giving rise to pollution effects Contaminants in fish and other seafood for human consumption do not exceed legislative levels Marine litter do not cause harm Underwater noise does not adversely affect the marine environment In practice good status is depending on how it is defined. The HELCOM BSAP defines my dream as follows. It is then defined in more details by strategic goals, ecological objectives and finally by indicators The MSFD: my dream is defined as follows and in more details by 11 Descriptors of GES further detailed in criteria and indicators.

10 What is needed? Co-ordination: Criteria for GES Indicators
Boundary values Assessment tools Methods Monitoring Data In order to make my dream to understandable to all of us we need coordination.

11 What did we report? Different indicators Different GES boundaries
Biodiversity Aliens Different indicators Different GES boundaries Different geographic scales Different assessment methods Fish Food webs Eutrophication Benthic integrity Hydrography Contaminants Contaminants in fish Litter Noise

12 Gaps

13 State of regional coherence – self-assessment by HELCOM Contracting Parties concerning implementation of Articles 8, 9 and 10 of the MSFD Green: good regional coherence, requiring further development though. Yellow: fair coherence. Red: limited knowledge and insufficient coherence.

14 Gaps in information and knowledge
Major knowledge gaps concerning hydromorphology, underwater noise and marine litter impacts of alien species underwater habitat distribution and status indicators for the food web status Knowledge on the hazardous substances is spatially patchy and especially their biological impacts are poorly understood Set of indicators to assess GES is sparse and varies Geographic assessment scales are varying Assessment tools are neither fully developed nor agreed upon and still require more coherence with EU policies

15 Level of coordination No real coordination for the 2012 reporting on the MSFD implementation HELCOM was not used efficiently General information exchange on Initial Assessments, determination of GES and GES/sub-GES boundaries, setting of environmental targets and establishing indicators for assessment took place GES-REG Project provisions were not used fully Practically no general coordination took place in the actual preparation of the Initial Assessments GES determination was not coordinated HELCOM CORESET was not used efficiently for indicators and boundary settings Joint HELCOM Assessment and Monitoring Strategy was a success

16 Possibilities during the GOF Year
Increased sub-regional cooperation between Estonia, Finland and Russia planning of joint monitoring manual and programme implementing operational monitoring Co-ordinated, well planned execution of monitoring (GES and pressures) making “new methods” operational Sharing/pooling data without unnecessary delay joint preparation of assessment on environmental status and pressures coordinated programme of measures

17 Use HELCOM! Align national approaches to regional agreements accordingly and vice versa Coordinated and timely planning of activities Influence and support the HELCOM’s role in the regional cooperation process and achieve profits Share research and development work on new GOF Year topics in order to Support Baltic-wide planning and execution of operational monitoring provide regional baseline information for assessment of the need and extent of future activities Influence the joint documentation of approaches and results to support HELCOM Contracting Parties in their national and international reporting obligations Mainly addressed to the ministries responsible for planning and financing the work.

18 When I reading the list of research themes during the GOF Year, one can see that most of the gaps will be dealt with. The only thing that I didn’t find out is the monitoring and assessment human pressures especially dealing with the main problem of the area, eutrophication. Then I continued reading and realized with pleasure that eutrophication is the cross-cutting theme and now I am convinced that the Gulf of Finland year is bringing us a step – at least one year – closer to my dream of the healthy Baltic Sea.

19 I would like to wish all the best to you when you will implement the ambitious goals of the GOF Year and I hope that the ambition level will continue in the future and could be used as an good example of cooperation in the Baltic Sea area as a whole!

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