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Background

Marine environment
© Mats Westerbom

The co-operation to protect the marine environment of the Gulf of Finland has its foundations in the times after the World War II. The collaboration in the field of science and technology between Finland and the Soviet Union was agreed on and established in 1955. As a next step, the environmental collaboration was initiated in 1968 by scientists predominantly from Leningrad and Tallinn who suggested a joint working group that would focus on the pollution of the Gulf of Finland and the functioning of the marine systems that regulate the Gulf’s state. Foundations for the later trilateral co-operation, starting from 1992, between Estonia, Finland, Russia were built.

After a while, the countries realized that science had a tendency to veer off on its own and become separated from the management and mitigation work. With this in mind, it was considered necessary and of special value to bring these two separately operating parties back together. Thus, trilateral scientific collaboration in the 1990s was oriented towards finding practical solutions and environmental improvements.

The work has continued ever since and has had a great importance to scientific community and decision-makers in terms of continuously increasing and deepening knowledge of the functioning of the Gulf.

Gulf of Finland Year 1996

The Gulf of Finland Year 1996 was led by the Finnish Environment institute (SYKE). The year served as a platform for active trilateral research including marine biology, physics, chemistry, and geology. One of the key issues was to jointly recognize that the nutrient load to the gulf was at all too high level. In some areas of research this kind of common activity (joint expeditions and publishing work) was carried out for the very first time. The thematic year was an important platform for strengthening the Estonian-Finnish-Russian co-operation among scientists.

Gulf of Finland Year 2014

The Gulf of Finland Year 2014 was led jointly together by the ministries of environment in Estonia, Finland and Russia and the Secretariat for the Thematic Year was hosted by the Finnish Environment Institute, SYKE. The year brought together experts, decision-makers and citizens from the three countries to work together for the creation of a healthier and safer gulf. Several coastal towns and regions, as well as schools, NGOs and research institutions took part in organizing a large number of public events, environmental education happenings and scientific seminars.

The year had five research themes: marine traffic in winter conditions, bio- and geodiversity, fish resources, ecosystem health, and maritime spatial planning. The focus areas were also linked to the implementation of HELCOM’s Baltic Sea Action Plan, developed as a tool for sub-areal implementation of the EU's Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

The main results of the year were the jointly-developed Thematic Assessment of the State of the Gulf, the Special Issue of the scientific results published in Journal of Marine Systems and the Policy Brief describing the necessary actions to improve the state of the gulf.

The Baltic Sea Day Forum

The Baltic Sea Day Forum has been organized in St. Petersburg on yearly basis since 2000. This large Forum has been an important event to discuss environmental problems of the Baltic Sea between scientists, private sector, decision-makers and NGOs. The results of the Gulf of Finland trilateral work has been reported on yearly basis.

The continuation of the trilateral cooperation

After the Gulf of Finland Year 2014 the ministries of environment signed a Memorandum of Understanding of the further co-operation. The three countries Estonia, Finland and Russia seek to strengthen their co-operation, in the open gulf and coastal areas, in order to reduce loads, promote sustainable use of natural resources in the Gulf, and to secure the good quality of its marine environment for future generations.

The work is led by the international coordinating committee. Important elements of the work plan are: the scientific cooperation including the expert group, common monitoring programme, and the regularly updated Road Map to give the latest information for the decision-makers how to improve the state of the gulf. Additionally, the trilateral community actively cooperates with international bodies and reports of its results in international conferences.

The scientific topics under investigation are:

  • Eutrophication
  • Biological diversity
  • Geological diversity
  • Pollution and Ecosystem Health
  • Fish and fisheries
  • Maritime safety
  • Maritime spatial planning (MSP) 
  • Climate change
  • Monitoring 

The scientific research is led by the expert group and there will be organised Gulf of Finland Science Days on yearly basis. The next Forum will be held in Tallinn on 9-10 October, 2017.

More information

Leading Scientist Kai Myrberg, phone: +358 295 251 441

Senior Scientist Mika Raateoja, phone +358 295 251 536

Senior Coordinator Ljudmila Vesikko, phone: +358 295 251 737

email: firstname.surname@ymparisto.fi

Published 2017-09-29 at 10:04, updated 2017-09-29 at 10:12