Baltic Maritime Science Park (BMSP) is an arena for dynamic cluster development in the Baltic Sea Region. The cluster should be viewed as a network cluster consisting of nodes spread out around the Baltic Sea Region.
The Oil Spill Forum works with facilitating oil spill projects and communicate project results and oil spill news through the Twitter account @BMSPoil.
Jonas Pålsson and Hans Wåhlander
The Baltic Sea is one of the world’s busiest waterways. An estimated 9% of the world trade and 11% of the world oil is transported through Baltic waters. Data show a 20% increase between 2005 and 2011 through the Skaw. However, 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. The brackish water of the Baltic Sea coupled with long water retention, makes the ecosystem particularly sensitive to pollution. Sweden has a 11 500 km coastline, which makes it vulnerable to oil spills. A national Digital Environmental Atlas exists to help prioritise sensitive coastal areas, in case of an oil spill. An enquiry was sent out during 2013 to ascertain the existence and use of oil spill contingency plans and the Environmental Atlas in Sweden. Of these, 80 (61%) of the coastal municipalities responded they have an oil spill contingency plan, 14 (11%) responded they do not have a plan and 38 (29%) did not respond. 66 (50%) municipalities responded the plan had been revised within the last five years and 42 (32%) responded the plan had been used during an exercise within the last five years. Regarding the Environmental Atlas, 59 municipalities (45%) responded that the national Environmental Atlas is used, 14 (11%) use their own mapping tool and 51 (39%) did not respond.
Since 2003, several EU projects have worked to increase the preparedness level, exercise the contingency plans and update Environmental Atlas data, especially in the south and east of Sweden. The issue has also been raised on a regional level by HELCOM. But is this enough? 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.