Environmental impacts

Sustainable and well-planned utilization of the seas

Maritime transport affects the nature of seas and surrounding areas. It produces emissions, both in the water and in the air. Ship fuels, chemicals used when servicing the ships and waste water all cause pollution in the seas. Accidents can also cause environmental damage.

Therefore, it is important to utilize the seas in a sustainable and well-planned manner. In Merikotka, we examine the environmental effects of maritime transport. The research work is done by Professor Sakari Kuikka’s research group from the University of Helsinki and the logistics and seafaring research group of the South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences.

The unique Baltic sea

The Baltic Sea is important to us – our studies are designed for the unique conditions of the Baltic Sea. The Finnish shorelines are very complex and their depth varies greatly. Shorelines offer good breeding conditions for many fish species living in inland waterways. The biodiversity of the archipelago and the shoreline is also valuable to boaters, fishers and other people who spend time near or at the sea.

The Baltic Sea includes many habitats that are rare even on a global scale. The northern climate, low-salt brackish water and lack of tidal activity make the Baltic Sea a challenging habitat. Because of this, there are quite few species living in the Baltic Sea. Many endangered species can also be found living on its shores.

Multidisciplinary accident prevention research

Seafaring poses risks to both nature and humans. Prevention is much cheaper than post-accident measures. Merikotka aims to understand seafaring-related risks and to control them efficiently. To avoid accidents, it is important to understand what the risks are and how they can be reduced. This is difficult and complex work. Information must thus always be gathered from several sources.

In our risk analyses, we can, for example, calculate the likelihood of oil ending up in a particular area under specific conditions, or the likelihood with which the animal or plant populations subjected to an oil spill will recover or be destroyed. Accident response authorities can then use these calculations to quickly decide how to prioritize the protection of different areas.

Discussion on potential risks should be a part of accident prevention measures. That is why risk communication is important to us. We study the ways that communication between stakeholders can improve risk management.

Sakari Kuikka Professor University of Helsinki
Päivi Haapasaari Professor University of Helsinki
Ville Henttu Research Director South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences