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.


Written by: Annukka Lehikoinen

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


Written by: Annukka Lehikoinen

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 (

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:

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


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.


Merikotka and BONUS BALTIMARI hosted a panel discussion on improving uptake from research to practice

Baltic Seas conference panelists

On September 24-25, 2019, University of Turku hosted The Baltic Seas International Maritime Conference with a theme “European Maritime Research from Adriatic to Baltic”. On the second day of the conference, Kotka Maritime Research Centre and BONUS BALTIMARI project jointly hosted a session which included a panel discussion on strategies for improving uptake from research to practice. Here is a brief summary of the panel.

The panelists

  • Floris Goerlandt, Canada Research Chair in Risk Management for Marine Industries
  • Maria Hänninen, Research Director at Kotka Maritime Research Centre (Merikotka)
  • Jens-Uwe Schröder-Hinrichs, Vice-President (Academic Affairs) and Professor, World Maritime University
  • Valtteri Laine, Special advisor, Traficom


  • Ketki Kulkarni, Postdoctoral Researcher at Aalto University
  • Anish Hebbar, Assistant Professor at World Maritime University

Highlights of the discussion

Dr. Floris began the session by speaking about different types of research affecting practice: basic science, use-inspired fundamental research and applied research. He emphasized the need for researchers to be flexible and accessible to policy-makers. He spoke about the importance of building relationships and ground rules with policy-makers.

Next, Dr. Maria shared her experiences of bridging the gap from research to practice. She mentioned how policy makers often require solutions in shorter times and research typically takes longer. However, she noted from experience that researchers are interested in practical problems and decision makers are interested about new research.

Dr. Jens highlighted the need for evidence-based research. He mentioned how scientific research often provided complex answers, while decision makers required easy-to-understand answers, which a wider range of people can comprehend.

Valtteri mentioned that the best way for policy-makers to be informed about scientific advances is through interactions like round-tables and closed group meetings. Often, policy-makers do not have access to scientific databases and that inhibits their search for current scientific works.

Dr. Maria was asked about how researchers could meet the timelines for policy-makers, given their different approaches and planning horizons. She mentioned that it would help to understand the sociology of risks and learning how decision-making works. This way, researchers to could aim for predicting the questions of the policy-makers in the future and plan research accordingly. Dr. Jens added that to convince to stakeholders about the validity of research, once again throws the spotlight on the need for evidence based research.

Dr. Floris was asked about how much importance do academics place on Technology Readiness Level (TRL). He stated that pursuing TRL was quite difficult in academia, since it would require sustained monetary and development efforts over a long period on a single project. A commentor from the audience pointed out that projects with higher TRL levels from academia, although appreciated by policy-makers, do not necessarily help young academics advance in their career. This is because they do not produce citations, which are required by researchers. Dr. Floris highlighted the efforts of BONUS, H2020 and other agencies in pushing for higher TRL in their projects and thought them to be better advocates for TRL, rather than universities.

Dr. Jens discussed how the metrics for academic performances are also now evolving, with more universities looking at TV, social media coverage and impacts of dissemination across all technological platforms (for example, twitter reaction analysis). It is becoming important to show how engaged you are as a university.

Valtteri was asked how can academics help to extend the reach of their work to policy-makers? He discussed the role of persons like himself, who are special advisors relating to policy and who are actively engaged in academia (as external PhD candidates or collaborators).


  1. There is an increasing need for evidence-based research, which can help build trust in stakeholders.
  2. Researchers can better predict the problems of the future (for policy-makers) by learning how decision-making works.
  3. Agencies such as BONUS and H2020 are on the right path of improving TRL of research projects. Dissemination of this work is important
  4. Researchers/academics may be more motivated to work on practical problems and higher TRLs, if their work can somehow contribute to their growth in academia. There should be more metrics apart from citations to help with this.
  5. Policy-makers need better access to scientific work. Open access should be promoted and researchers should establish regular communication channels with policy-makers.
  6. Organizations such as Merikotka and special advisors such as Valtteri and Jouni have an important role to play in bridging the gap from science to policy, as they are approachable to both, policy-makers and researchers.


The BONUS BALTIMARI project has received funding from BONUS (Art. 185), funded jointly by the EU and the Swedish Research Council Formas, the Polish National Center for Research and Development, and the Estonian Research Council.