Research article: a decision analysis model to compare biofouling management strategies

Researchers of the Merikotka-driven COMPLETE and COMPLETE PLUS projects published a scientific article where they present a multi-criteria decision analysis model to compare alternative biofouling management strategies in the Baltic Sea. The article is a joint effort of the KMRC researchers from the groups of the University of Helsinki, South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Science, and the Kotka Maritime Research Association, in collaboration with Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE), Chalmers University of Technology, and University of Klaipeda.

Biofouling management helps to prevent the spread of potentially harmful non-native species but is important also in terms of ships’ fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. The main biofouling management methods in use are regular cleaning of the underwater parts of vessels, and diverse biocidal or non-biocidal hull coatings. The ecological and environmental risks associated with different solutions and their combinations should be acknowledged when selecting case-specifically sustainable management strategies. In addition, the special characteristics of the Baltic Sea, such as the partial ice coverage in winter, restrict the applicability of some solutions in the area.

The researchers developed a model that enables case-specific comparison of the biofouling control strategies in relation to the risk of new non-indigenous species introductions in different parts of the Baltic Sea, the eco-toxicological risk due to biocidal hull coatings, and the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that increase along the growing friction caused by the organisms attaching the ship’s hull. In addition, for each analyzed scenario, the model estimates the monetary costs for the shipping company, arising from the fuel consumption and the evaluated control options.

In the article, the researchers demonstrate how, with the careful consideration of the hull fouling management strategy, both money and environment can be saved. Biocidal-free coating combined with regular in-water cleaning, using a device to collect the detached organic material, provides a sustainable alternative. However, the optimal biocidal-free coating type and in-water cleaning interval should be evaluated case-specifically.  In some cases, biocidal coating with less regular in-water cleaning appears to be a justifiable solution but even then, the copper concentration and release rate from the coating should be adjusted to the low-salinity conditions of the Baltic Sea.

The article is published in the journal Science of the total environment and is freely available. It is part of the KMRC-researcher Emilia Luoma’s PhD study she conducts as part of the research group of the University of Helsinki. In her thesis Luoma applies participatory system modeling methods to examine environmental and sustainability issues related to marine traffic in the Baltic Sea.

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.

A recent scientific article explores biofouling management in shipping

Researchers in the COMPLETE project have published an article that explores the management question related to the biofouling of ships’ underwater structures through qualitative decision analysis. The article recently came out in Marine Pollution Bulletin.

Biofouling management is important to prevent the spread of harmful non-indigenous species, but also from the viewpoint of the fuel economy and CO2 emissions of ships. The attachment and growth of organisms can be prevented by regular cleaning of the underwater parts of vessels and by applying various antifouling or foul-release coatings. However, there are risks associated with the methods and their combinations, that should be considered when making choices.

In their recent article, the researchers clarify the multifaceted and cross-disciplinary nature of the biofouling management decisions. To support readers’ thinking, the problem is visualized as a causal conceptual map (qualitative influence diagram). The article explains how ship- and route-specific factors, as well as the physico-chemical conditions in the Baltic Sea, affect the case-specifically optimal choices. The control options are viewed in a multi-objective manner, from the perspectives of shipping companies’ fuel and biofouling management costs, CO2 emissions and the risks to the Baltic Sea ecosystem.

The article is part of KMRC-researcher Emilia Luoma’s PhD study in the research group of the University of Helsinki. In her thesis, Luoma applies participatory system modeling methods to examine environmental and sustainability issues related to marine traffic in the Baltic Sea.

Read the original article

COMPLETE project will be followed by an extension stage project COMPLETE PLUS

COMPLETE project will be followed by an extension stage project COMPLETE PLUSPractical 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).

COMPLETE Final Conference materials available

 

9-10 February 2021

The Final Conference of the COMPLETE project “Completing management options in the Baltic Sea Region to reduce the risk of invasive species introduction by shipping” was held on 9-10 February 2021 as an online conference. Over 160 participants from 18 countries attended this event, representing policy makers, authorities, shipping companies, ports/port authorities, boating associations, companies providing hull cleaning services and antifouling systems, scientists and non-governmental organizations, among others. The first day was dedicated to the work that has been carried out in the COMPLETE project to support the harmonized implementation of the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). On the second day, the presentations focused on the biofouling management issues in the BSR, and showcased the results on harmonized monitoring of non-indigenous species in the region.

The recorded conference presentations can be viewed, and the presentations as PDFs can be downloaded at the conference web page: https://balticcomplete.com/news/final-conference.

Final Conference of the COMPLETE project coming up on 9-10 February 2021

 

 

The Final Conference of the COMPLETE project will be organized on 9-10 February 2021 as an online event.

The aim of the conference is to present potential solutions and sustainable management options for reducing the risk of invasive species introductions caused by shipping and boating in the Baltic Sea Region from the COMPLETE project. The aim of the project has been to develop consistent and adaptive management tools and recommendations for the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) by addressing both major vectors of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens: ballast water and biofouling, as well as taking into account the needs for non-indigenous species monitoring.

More information about the event on the conference web page.

Register by 5 February with this form.  See you at the conference!

 

Oil Spill Response in the Northern Baltic and Arctic Areas-Twitter conference 14.1.2021

Three EU funded Research projects, all developing countermeasures against oil pollution, will have the joint Twitter conference 14th January 2021, at 10:00 am – 2.00 pm (UCT+2).

ACBR (Arctic Coast Bioremediation) will show some of the latest results how to use biotechnology for comprehensive remediation of oil-contaminated marine coastal areas in the Arctic.

SIMREC (Simulators for improving Cross-Border Oil Spill Response in Extreme Conditions) will highlight effort s to use simulators as novel platforms for training and research to develop joint procedures for the cross the border co-operation in the Eastern part of the Gulf of Finland

OILSPILL (Enhancing oil spill response capability in the Baltic Sea Region) will focus on the oil spill response capability on the Baltic Sea region.

Join us in January: #BAOIL21

Programme

Sailing boat hull with a patchwork of anti-fouling paints for studying biofouling growth

The role of leisure boats in the spreading of alien species in the Baltic Sea Region is largely unknown. The number of leisure boats operating in the Baltic Sea Region is growing, and the risk of potential new introductions is also increasing. It is essential to be aware of this risk and its magnitude in order to address the issue with the most cost-effective measures. As a part of COMPLETE activities, a study will be carried out in summer 2020 together with Kari “Ruffe” Nurmi and his sailing boat, which will be literally used as an experimental vessel.

The aim of the experiments is to test with a single sailing boat, how different kinds of anti-fouling paints common in the market can affect the growth of biofouling organisms during a normal sailing season in the Baltic Sea Region. In addition, some strips in the hull will be left unpainted, to act as reference areas. In this way a comparison can be made, how different antifouling paints work in practice in similar ‘real life’ conditions and verify if there are any alien species present in the potential fouling communities.

During the sailing season, the biofouling growth will be checked with an underwater video camera. The boat will be lifted after the sailing season and samples will be collected from the different strips on the boat hull and the hull will be photographed. From these samples a detailed analysis will be made by the COMPLETE project partner Finnish Environment Institute about the coverage of biofouling, the species composition and especially the presence of alien species. This kind of experimental study is first of its kind in the Baltic Sea Region, and the results will give an insight to the potential transfer of alien species with leisure boats. The results will also be taken into account when giving recommendations from the COMPLETE project on how to mitigate potential risks related to biofouling of leisure boats in the Baltic Sea area.

More information: COMPLETE project.