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Gulf of Finland Year 2014 organised by Finland, Estonia and Russia forges combined efforts to restore our coastal waters


Goals for the Gulf of Finland Year 2014 being co-ordinated by the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) will be brainstormed and developed by a hundred-strong group at an event held at SYKE's premises next Thursday. Attending will be representatives of research institutes and corporations, as well as decision-makers. The event will chart the potential of each player for active participation in the multifacted events that go to make up Gulf of Finland Year.

- Gulf of Finland Year 2014 is seeking concrete science-based solutions to be offered by researchers of the three countries to their own decision-makers for the purpose of promoting decision-making related to marine protection. Our target is clear development of our goal to restore the marine environment of the Gulf of Finland. Closer co-operation enables us to increase our region's environmental awareness and responsibility, and thus promote social stability and wellbeing, says Dr Kai Myrberg of SYKE's Marine Research Centre, who has overall responsibility for the theme year.

The previous Gulf of Finland theme year was 1996. For 2014 we shall repeat the 1996 marine environment follow-up study in a broader form, revealing the changes in the status of the marine environment in the Gulf of Finland over nearly 20 years – has action on emission limits proved effective?

- In 1996 the perspective was mainly regional with focus, for example, on action to restrict environmental loading in the Gulf of Finland. Now we are also having to deal with newer, more global threats. We need to create a strategy for preventing these threats, or at least adapting to them, says Myrberg. New or emerging threats include the impact on the ecosystem wrought by climate change, the increasing risk of oil spills, and pollution. The central goal is preservation of the diversity of the marine environment.

- The question is one of how the three countries can work together to find solutions to the global problems in their own maritime areas. Can we still halt the negative development, or are we left with adapting to inevitable and probably irreversible change? The ecosystem approach now available can also be applied as an example in other restricted marine areas, says Myrberg.

Societal impact, wellbeing

Myrberg believes that the co-operation among researchers from the three countries may have a broad impact not only on the marine environment but on societal development in general.

- Trilateral co-operation involving Finland, Russia and Estonia, coupled with increased dialogue among researchers and decision-makers, promotes political stability and wellbeing, with corresponding benefit to the business community.

Russian research opens to the West

Scientific secretary for Gulf of Finland Year, MSc Ljudmila Vesikko, has reported on Russian marine research organisations and on the changing status over the past twenty years, particularly since the disintegration of the former Soviet Union. This report has been of inestimable value to Finns wishing to seek and maintain contact with research partners.

The goals and insights of decision-makers and researchers have also been mapped with a view to the Gulf of Finland Year. Detailed data and increasing motivation for dealing with common issues will help to overcome obstacles – these have included the lack of awareness of the Russian research world that still prevails in Finland and, frequently, the lack of a common language among the three countries.

- Research conditions in Russia have improved of late, with circumstances having stabilised since the post-Soviet turmoil. Gulf of Finland Year 2014 has already received blessing from high political levels in Russia, and this has naturally increased the enthusiasm of researchers for co-operation with Finns and Estonians. Problems are also being discussed more openly than before, says Ljudmila Vesikko.
According to Vesikko there has been clear evidence in recent years of more active participation by Russian researchers in trilateral research co-operation, compared to the previous Gulf of Finland Year, for example.

Further information

Project manager, Dr Kai Myrberg
SYKE Marine Research Centre
Tel. +358 50 5110 078

Scientific secretary Ljudmila Vesikko
SYKE Marine Research Centre
Tel. +358 400 1485 65

Aira Saloniemi, Chief Editor for Web Services
with SYKE Communications, Baltic Sea
Tel. +358 400 1488 75


Ministry of the Environment Finnish Environment Institute Finnish Meteorological Institute

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