Article: Well-organized sewage management advances comprehensive sustainability of boating and marinas

A new article from the Kotka Maritime Research Network recently came out in the international science journal Marine Pollution Bulletin. The article is based on data collected during the 30MILES project, that focused on sustainable development of the marina network in the Eastern Gulf of Finland.

While analyzing the answers of queries and interviews, the researchers noticed the aspects most frequently commented by boaters in connection to sustainability of marinas  were the waste management issues – especially those related to boat-sourced sewage management. Recreational boaters in the study area often seemed to face boat-sourced sewage management issues that the port actors were not aware of. A literature review indicated similar issues are faced by boaters in other parts of the world, too.

Since 2005, discharging boat-sourced sewage in the Finnish coastal areas has been banned by law. The contents of the boat-toilet should be stored in sewage holding tanks for later disposal at sewage pump-out stations. In Finland, the pump-out stations are usually located either in natural harbours or built marinas. In natural harbours, floating stations are maintained most often by an environmental association (Keep the Archipelago Tidy Association). Shore stations located in marinas are maintained by marina operators in accordance with the marina municipalities. Boat-sourced sewage is still often dumped in the sea, locally contributing to the eutrophication of the Baltic Sea. The article of the KMRC researchers explains the reasons and suggests improvements. (Photo: Keep the Archipelago Tidy Association, HL-Metal Oy / Erik Saanila)

The researchers conducted an actor-network theory -driven analysis to understand and describe the mechanisms through which boat-sourced sewage management plays a role in sustainable marina development of the study area. The article presents a comprehensive description of one socio-eco-technical system, in which the various identified actors and factors, in interaction with each other, can either advance or hinder the manifestation of sustainable port operation and recreational boating. Sewage pump-out stations installed in the marinas are recognized as core marina services, valued by boaters. At the same time, they serve as so-called governance artefacts, steering the boaters’ environmental behavior in marinas, but also at sea, which simultaneously affects the sustainability of both marina operation and boating.

The results of the article indicate paying special attention to waste management services in marinas is likely to put forward a positive sustainability loop. This virtuous circle produces synergies between objectives of environmental management, local well-being, and economic development. Adequate environmental management preserves the ecosystem services that are part of the tourism product and prevents them from turning into disservices that would likely make visitors to abandon the site and its surroundings in the long run. Waste management connects concerns of both visiting boaters and locals, enabling the first group an environmentally conscious and legal way of action, at the same time sustaining the good environmental state in the home locality of the latter group.

The article provides evidence-based ideas and recommendations for improving the boat-sourced sewage management, as well as the sustainable development of marinas in general.

 

Original article:

Renne Vantola, Emilia Luoma, Tuuli Parviainen and Annukka Lehikoinen (2021). Sustainability manifesting as a multi-material and -sited network effect: How boat-sourced sewage management facilities serve as governance artefacts advancing sustainability in nautical tourism. Marine Pollution Bulletin 173, Part B. (Open access link)

Doctoral dissertation on the environmental impacts of seabed mining

M.Sc. Laura Kaikkonen defended her doctoral dissertation in the field of environmental sciences at the University of Helsinki on October 29, 2021. The opponent was Professor Anna Metaxas from the Department of Oceanography at Dalhousie University in Canada. One of the supervisors of Kaikkonen’s doctoral thesis has been Professor Sakari Kuikka – a member of the Kotka Maritime Research Centre’s management group, from the University of Helsinki. The thesis work was conducted as part of a sub-project led by Professor Kuikka, in the Smartsea project funded by the Strategic Research Council of the Academy of Finland.

The thesis, titled as “Risks out of depth? A study on the environmental impacts of seabed mining“, consists of four scientific articles and a summary section. Environmental risks associated with seabed mining are assessed in a comprehensive manner, from the structuring of the problem and the synthesis of existing knowledge to the development of a probabilistic risk analysis model. The last article of the entity addresses the attitudes of people towards the state of the mostly invisible and inaccessible seabed environments, and the damage caused to them by mining.

Seabed mining is expected to address globally the growing demand for mineral resources, created by – among other things – the growing battery industry. This creates a call for improved knowledge base and effective methods to support the assessment of the environmental impacts of the ocean mining operations and the need for their regulation. Kaikkonen’s dissertation offers scientifically valid solutions, data and reflection on the topic.

”As ocean mining activities are still in exploratory stages, there are significant uncertainties regarding the exploitation of mineral resources and its environmental impacts,” Kaikkonen says and continues by telling unrestricted mineral extraction can have far-reaching effects on the functioning of the marine ecosystems, which must be clarified before commercial activity can be considered. “An improved appreciation of the risks associated with emerging maritime industries is essential to avoid uncontrolled development and to ensure good status and stewardship of the marine environment,” emphasizes Laura Kaikkonen.

The thesis summary can be downloaded from the University of Helsinki’s publication archive Helda.

INFUTURE Final conference Tue 30.11. – Wed 1.12.2021

The INFUTURE project seeks comprehensive solutions to support sustainable and cost-effective inland waterway transportation. The INFUTURE project has been implemented in cooperation with Finnish and Russian experts in the field. The work has been funded by the South-East Finland – Russia ENI CBC 2014-2020 program.

INFUTURE FINAL CONFERENCE
Waterways – a step towards a green transition

Tue 30.11. – Wed 1.12.2021

The conference will focus on presenting the research results of the project through four different themes. The first theme, “Towards a Green Transition”, focuses on the EU’s Green Deal and Fit for 55 programs, as well as national emission reduction targets for inland waterway transportation. Another theme highlights the opportunities and potential of inland waterway transport today. The third theme aims to present best practices and smart solutions for the development of inland waterway infrastructure and port operations. The last, fourth session looks at visions for the future of inland waterways as a sustainable mode of freight transport.

In addition to the researchers of the INFUTURE project, the conference speakers will be high-level experts such as

  • Marta Wolska, EU Commission, Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport
  • Benjamin Boyer and Laure Roux, Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine
  • Eero Hokkanen, Ministry of Transport and Communications
  • Tomi Solakivi, University of Turku
  • Claudia Beumer, VT Group
  • Jarkko Toivola, Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency
  • Ville Hinkka, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd
  • Olga Ansberg, Director of Port Logistics, Port of Vyborg
  • Kevin Desmond, Inland Waterway International, Alternative Fuels Committee

The INFUTURE Final Conference will be held in Kotka, Maritime Centre Vellamo. You can attend the conference or parts of it both on site and on-line.

Program here

Sign up here

The conference is free of charge.