Small port every 30 miles apart
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The 30MILES (Small port every 30 miles apart) project aims to develop water tourism and maritime safety in the eastern Gulf of Finland. Environmental friendliness is central when making traveling in port regions more comfortable and enjoyable. The project thus considered sustainable development from the perspective of port safety and the environmental practices of port operators as well as profitability. The project also conducted a survey to probe marina users’ preferences in order to ensure that development work is in line with them.

Better services, safer ports

Participants in the 30MILES project included 12 marinas from the eastern Gulf of Finland region, six in Finland and six in Estonia. During the project, concrete improvements made to the marinas, business opportunities were developed, communications materials were produced, and marketing efforts were undertaken at tourism and boating events.

During the project, Southestern Finland University of Applied Sciences organised safety training courses at ports, which were then compiled into a video series entitled “The Safe Port”. A risk assessment of recreational boating in the eastern Gulf of Finland yielded a comprehensive picture of the central risks in the region of the 30MILES ports. The “Port Safety Day” concept, created for marinas in order to familiarize boaters with the most important aspects of maritime safety, entailed e.g. a rescue exercise and basic fire training. Approach routes to all 30MILES ports were also recorded in an attempt to support and facilitate navigation.

More sustainable development in marinas

A Helsinki University research group identified ways in witch marinas and boating tourism can be developed in a sustainable manner. Sustainability is construed as a comprehensive, three-part concept, in which environmental friendliness, safety and profitability create synergies. The research was based on literature, 2016 and 2017 web surveys aimed at marina customers, and in-depth interviews with boaters and port operators.

New business opportunities

Sustainable business concepts were designed for four of the marinas (the new Porvoo marina, Loviisa’s Laivasilta port, Hamina’s Tervasaari and Virolahti’s Klamila) in close cooperation with the region’s municipalities and other relevant actors. Particular attention was paid to profitability, year-round operation, ports’ overall service offerings, opportunities afforded by geographical location, safety, environmental factors, and social sustainability.

The aim was to identify new business opportunities and new customer groups for guest marinas as well as to pinpoint operational factors that could improve resource efficiency. The analysis was not limited to boating, but also took into account tourism, the attractiveness of the surrounding regions, and the ways in which the marinas can form an integral part of their respective regions’ service provision and tourist routes. A more comprehensive perspective on marina development opens doors to entirely new business ideas and customer demographics.

The business concept was implemented by Cursor Oy and Postintra Oy.

Participating ports:
Virolahti, Klamila port
Hamina, Tervasaari port
Kotka, Kantasatama port
Pyhtää, Keihässalmi port
Loviisa, Laivasilta port
Porvoo, New guest marina
Tallinnan Lentosatama port
Viimsi, Leppneeme and Kelnase ports
Eisma port
Narva-Joensuu port
Narva port

Project funding

The main contributors were Interreg Central Baltic 2014-2020 and the Regional Council of Southwest Finland. The total budget for the project was 3.1 million euros.

Project partners

Kotka Maritime Research Association (coordinator)
Southeastern Finland University of Applied Sciences
Helsinki University
Cursor Oy
Posintra Oy
Ida-Viru Enterprise Centre
Eisma Sadam
Municipality of Viimsi
Estonian Maritime Museum, Lennusadam
City of Narva
Municipality of Narva-Joesuu

Stakeholders’ perspectives on the sustainable development of marinas in the Gulf of Finland

A research article on the sustainable development of marinas, initiated in the 30MILES project coordinated by Kotka Maritime Research Association and funded by the Interreg Central Baltic Program and the Regional Council of Southwest Finland, was finalized in the Gyroscope project funded by the Research Council of Finland. The article has now been published in the Ocean & Coastal Management journal and has open access. In addition to researchers from the Kotka Maritime Research Association, the article’s authors include researchers from the University of Helsinki and the Finnish Environment Institute.

The starting point for the article was the assumption that making visible the different perspectives various stakeholders have on sustainable marina and on the actions needed to achieve it, can aid reaching a shared understanding and thus support the sustainable development of marinas. Individual boaters and marina operators were interviewed on how they define sustainable development and its goals within the marina context. Further, graphical, conceptual influence diagrams (CID) to visualize and structure the different ways individuals perceive the sustainability of marinas were constructed. The CID’s consist of the key variables and their causal interactions.

Based on the results of the article, the CID is a useful tool for analyzing and comparing stakeholders’ perceptions of sustainability. The method helps to identify the key variables and their potential conflicts. Furthermore, the article indicates that linguistic differences in terms of different concepts, for example, can cause misunderstandings between different people. Therefore, cooperation and co-learning among various stakeholders are necessary to create shared understanding. In addition, the three-pillar sustainability model can help interviewees widen their understanding about sustainability. Hence, we recommend its use when working with stakeholders in sustainability-related issues. Finally, the article proposes management implications that can support the sustainable development of both marinas and boating.

Text: Emilia Luoma

Doctoral dissertation: Systems modelling can support the sustainable development of maritime traffic

The examination of MSc Emilia Luoma’s doctoral thesis in environmental sciences was organized at the University of Helsinki on October 28, 2022. Professor Nina Tynkkynen from Åbo Akademi’s Faculty of Social Sciences, Business and Economics acted as the opponent. The research behind the dissertation has been conducted as part of the projects 30MILES and COMPLETE, led by Kotka Maritime Research Centre (Merikotka). Merikotka’s research director, Associate Professor (Docent) Annukka Lehikoinen was the main supervisor of Luoma’s work.

The thesis, “Developing sustainability through systems thinking – Perspectives to maritime traffic” consists of four scientific articles and a summary section. The entity aims to increase the systemic understanding related to sustainability and sustainable development by applying causal network modeling methods. The case study topics through which the subject is approached in the articles are the management of the biofouling on ships and the sustainable development of marinas. In the summary section Luoma concludes on how causal network modeling methods can help identify factors and measures that prevent or promote sustainability and sustainable development.

“Based on the results, I would say that both qualitative and numerical causal network models support the conceptualization and structuring of sustainability issues in a versatile way,” Luoma states and continues: “My statement is that such a systemic review can increase the understanding of who should be involved in the discussion, what information is needed and what aspects should be considered in order to make decisions that promote sustainable development. The visual representation of the models can also promote the participation of stakeholders and open communication”.

At the dissertation event, Opponent Tynkkynen praised Luoma’s cross-disciplinary thesis as containing information useful for planning and policymaking purposes and offering fresh perspectives on the topic of maritime traffic, which is usually considered from a rather technical perspective. Tynkkynen also hoped that corresponding, non-traditional, and cross-disciplinary approaches could be included in the coming update of the national strategy for maritime research in Finland.

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


Written by: Annukka Lehikoinen

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)


Written by: Annukka Lehikoinen

30MILES at Naantali’s Saaristo Areena Event

The Naantali Boat Show saw the organisation of the inaugural Saaristo Areena event on 26 and 27 May, which discussed archipelago and coastal tourism as well as boating safety. 30MILES participated with its own stand and a panel discussion on securing a clean archipelago.

30MILES introduces new tool for port design

The 30MILES project, whose aim is to develop coastal tourism, is introducing a new tool for the design of marinas on 23 May. The tool, developed by environmental scientists at the University of Helsinki, offers help with investment planning.
– This new model helps port designers identify the factors that most effectively increase customer satisfaction, says researcher Annukka Lehikoinen, who is one of the application’s developers.

Her working group will present the application at the 30MILES final seminar, where participants will have the opportunity to test different versions of then tool and influence the final phase of its development. The two-day final seminar’s second day will focus on the project’s other achievements.
For more information, contact Tarja Javanainen at tarja.javainen@merikotka.fi.
30 MILES is an EU-funded project whose aim is to develop water tourism. The three-year project aims to create a safe marina network with attractive services in the eastern part of the Gulf of Finland.

Implementation time

1.9.2015 - 30.11.2018