The Baltic Sea’s unique ecology is under a lot of pressure. Fishing, maritime pollution from ships and substantial additions of nutrition from e.g. sewage and farming all pose a threat to the inland sea where the water is estimated to take 30 years to renew.
At all times there are some 2000 ships in movement, and each year we see 120-140 collisions and groundings in the Baltic Sea – both traffic and accidents are increasing! The question is not IF we will suffer the effects from a major oil spill. The question is WHEN!
In the coastal zones there are many interests that need to co-exist in a sustainable way e.g. residential areas, tourism, transportation, fishing, oil pipelines and wind parks.
In case of an oil spill it is the people and business in the local coastal regions that will suffer from maritime pollution. The clean-up work will also be handled locally! Preparedness for an oil spill must therefore inevitably involve local and regional authorities.
IMO has declared the Baltic Sea a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area. Baltic Master II works to ensure that extensive measures to prevent accidents and pollution are agreed on and practiced by all the Baltic Sea countries. As an example the effectiveness of different measures for accident prevention are evaluated before being put into practice and hands-on solutions to prevent pollution onboard and in ports have been implemented.
Baltic Master II was initiated by politicians, and political commitment is important to secure long term effects. The Baltic Master II political committee has established a political vision anchored in the European Union’s strategy for the Baltic Sea. The vision, based on the Baltic Master II project results, was signed at the Baltic Master II political day in Brussels and communicated in the European Parliament by the Baltic Master II Political Committee chairman Peter Jeppsson on December 1st 2011.
Baltic Master II is a flagship project in the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea region that brings together countries from around the whole Baltic Rim. Its aim is to improve maritime safety by integrating local and regional perspectives with cross-border cooperation. This involves increasing the land-based capacity to respond to maritime oil spills and working to prevent pollution from maritime transport.
Baltic Master II started in 2008 as a follow up project to the successful Baltic Master project. 48 partners from all the nine Baltic Sea countries are involved in the project ranging from local, regional and national authorities to research institutes and pan-Baltic organizations.
Read more at the project web site www.balticmaster.org.
Political commitment is crucial when it comes to maritime cross-border issues of safety, security and environmental protection. Peter Jeppsson, member of the Swedish parliament, has successfully chaired the Baltic Master II Political Committee. A number of political seminars and meetings has taken place, e.g. in the Swedish Parliament, at EU Maritime Day in Gdansk and at the Estonian ministry of environment in Tallinn. The Political Committee’s work was crowned by the signing of the Baltic Master II Vision for the Baltic Sea December 1st 2011 in Brussels. The vision was communicated and debated in the European Parliament in a seminar organized by the Baltic Master II project and the CPMR, in collaboration with Corinne LEPAGE (MEP) and the European Parliament’s Seas and Coastal Areas Intergroup.
For the continued political focus on maritime issues the body “Baltic Master Parliamentarians” consisting of Baltic Sea state national parliamentarians has been established.
Baltic Master II successfully conducted a number of oil spill exercises covering a number of different prerequisites and geographical areas. Findings from the oil spill exercises were put into an oil spill contingency binder that has been disseminated to all coastal authorities around the Baltic Sea. The binder aims to help coastal authorities and rescue services to perform their own exercises and produce their own oil contingency plans. Using the Baltic Master II experience presented in their local language, local authorities can perform their exercises more cost efficient and with greater impact.
An important part of oil contingency is the web based GIS-tool Environmental Atlas which Baltic Master II has updated in both Sweden and Poland. The tool offers an overview of different areas’ sensitivity and worthy of protection, which makes it an extremely useful tool in case of an oil spill, and in the preparedness and contingency planning work.
The Baltic Master II Baltic Sea Strategy flagship activity of Waste Management in Ports has, with active participation of the Reference Group and interested parties around the Baltic Sea finalized their work. The project has proven successful as external actors now have decided to implement the Baltic Master II waste management fraction signs and also made inquiries regarding the Baltic Master II cart designed to handle oily waste water from ships.
Region Blekinge will as lead partner of Baltic Master II continue focusing on the Baltic Sea health through their initiative Baltic Maritime Science Park (BMSP) and invites others to join the initiatives.