Baltic Master II is a follow-up project to its successful predecessor Baltic Master I, which in 2007 was elected as the best European maritime project by the Committee of Regions and the magazine Regional review.
The overall aim of Baltic Master II is to improve the on-land response capacity to oil spills in the Baltic Sea, as well as to enhance the prevention of pollution from maritime transport.
The project brings together actors from a wide range of levels going from local, regional, and national authorities to research institutes, universities, and pan-Baltic organisations. Providing a link between the local/regional level and the national level is an important task of the project, in order to combine hands-on knowledge with strategic work.
Baltic Master II also puts a significant effort in developing practical solutions to environmental safety problems in the Baltic Sea. Oil contingency plans in coastal regions and common ways of treating ship generated waste are two examples which will be further investigated.
The project is divided into four different work packages:
- Project Management and Administration
- Communication and Information
- Improved on-land response capacity to oil spills at sea
- Enhanced prevention of pollution
Region Blekinge, Sweden
48 partners from 9 different countries around the Baltic Sea
25 January 2009 – 25 January 2012
Approx 4 million Euro. The project is part financed by the European Union (European Regional and Development Fund) under the Baltic Sea Region Programme 2007-2013.
The Baltic Sea is one of the world’s busiest waterways. An estimated 9 % of the world’s trade and 11 % of the world’s oil transportation passes through Baltic waters. It is estimated that this will increase by 64 % between 2003 and 2020. For example, the oil transportation has increased by 133 % between 1997 and 2008 and is now over 250 million tonnes per year. Plenty of shallows and narrow passages make parts of the Baltic Sea difficult to navigate. There are around 130 accidents each year, with 10 of these leading to pollution, mostly of oil. The brackish water of the Baltic Sea coupled with a long residence time of water, makes the flora and fauna particularly sensitive to pollution. The Baltic Sea countries are fortunate to never have had a larger oil spill. The largest one, the Globe Asimi in Lithuania in 1981 spilled 16 000 tonnes of oil. Compared to the larger oils spills in other parts of the world, for example the Prestige, that spilled 63 000 tonnes, this is a small amount.
In the Baltic Sea region, several bilateral agreements and international conventions exist to strengthen the cross border cooperation in case of an oil spill. Annual exercises are held by the respective countries’ Navy and Coast Guard on combatting oil spills at sea. These have held multiple joint response operations during the HELCOM Balex Delta exercises for several years. However, this spirit of international cooperation and capacity building has not been the case with the land based oil spill response.
The organisation of the on land oil spill response in the Baltic Sea countries varies. Certain countries have a centralised system, with a federal authority in charge of the response and aided by local resources. Other countries have the local authorities in charge, who are aided by the governmental authorities and resources.
Different countries have worked with contingency planning to a varying degree. Poland for example have had no larger spills at all, but have invested much time and money into response preparedness. Sweden has had several smaller to medium sized spills, but there is large variation between the municipalities concerning the preparedness level. Different nations have set different goals for their oil spill response as well, for example Finland is prepared for an oil spill of 30 000 tonnes, Germany for 15 000 tonnes, Sweden 10 000 tonnes and the Russian Federation for 5 000 tonnes.
The two Baltic Master projects have highlighted the changing patterns related to shipping in the Baltic Sea and the corresponding need to continuously re-assess the threats to coastal environments and communities. One of the important conclusions from Baltic Master II is that the preparedness to deal effectively with oil spills at the local and regional level in most of the Baltic Sea countries is poorly developed. Important aspects are related to the need for updated and well rehearsed contingency plans. The need to test these plans in real exercises with regular intervals must be emphasised in particular. Such practices will test the collaboration between different agencies locally, the cooperation between central and local agencies, and the collaboration across borders. To cover the cost for such an improved preparedness various funding mechanisms can be discussed, one example highlighted in the present report is the development of a fund similar to the Finnish model.
The Status of International and Regional Conventions relating to Ship Source Marine Pollution in States in the Baltic Region
Proshanto K. Mukherjee and Abhinayan Basu Bal
The Baltic Sea region consists of nine countries, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Poland, and the Russian Federation all of which except Russia are European Union (EU) members. This report presents a study of the current status of implementing international and regional conventions for ship-source marine pollution in the Baltic Sea region.
This guide has been put together to introduce persons new to contingency planning to the process, give examples of topics and outlines for contingency plans and tips for further information. It has been produced for the EU project Baltic Master II and is the result of the practices and processes followed during the project.
The Baltic Sea is one of the world’s busiest waterways. An estimated 9 % of the world’s trade and 11 % of the world’s oil transportation passes through Baltic waters. It is estimated that this will increase by 64 % between 2003 and 2020. For example, the oil transportation has increased by 133 % between 1997 and 2008 and is now over 250 million tonnes per year. Plenty of shallows and narrow passages makes parts of the Baltic Sea difficult to navigate. There are around 130 accidents each year, with 10 of these leading to pollution, mostly of oil. The brackish water of the Baltic Sea coupled with a long residence time of water, makes the flora and fauna particularly sensitive to pollution. Sweden has a long coastline of 11 500 km, which makes it vulnerable to oil spills. A Digital Environmental Atlas exists to help prioritise sensitive areas, in case of an oil spill. An enquiry was sent out during 2011 to ascertain the existence and use of oil spill contingency plans and the environmental atlas in Sweden. Of these, 49 % of the coastal municipalities replied that they have a plan, 16 % replied that they are working with it and 35 % did not have one. Of the municipalities that have an oil spill contingency plan, 63 % have used the plan in an exercise within the last 5 years. In total, 31 % of the Swedish costal communities has an oil spill contingency plan used in an exercise in the last 5 years. For the Environmental Atlas, 70 % replied that they are using their own GIS tool or the Environmental Atlas. This is inadequate for an oil spill response, which has been pointed out in an evaluation in 2005 and shown in a few oil spill incidents in the last years. The reason is a combination of information not reaching the municipalities from the state agencies and a low priority for oil spill contingency planning in the municipalities. In the last years, however, work has been done through EU projects to increase the preparedness level, exercise the plans and update the Environmental Atlas data, especially in the south and east of Sweden. The issue has also been raised on a regional level by HELCOM. To have a well functioning oil spill response, regular exercises are needed to work out the bottlenecks, increase organisational cooperation and make individuals more comfortable in their roles in a response organisation.