Marine strategy plans and programmes guide the protection of the Baltic Sea

In Finland, maritime management is based on a national Marine Strategy, which is drafted every six years. This strategy consists of three parts: an assessment of the current state of the sea and the setting of objectives, a monitoring programme, and a Programme of Measures.

The preparation of a marine strategy is required by Finnish legislation, i.e. the Act on the Organisation of Water Management and Marine Management. This strategy also fulfils the European Union's commitment to a maritime management strategy.

The monitoring programme provides information on the state of the sea and its development

The monitoring programme included in the marine strategy plan assesses the status of the sea using various indicators called qualitative descriptors. If these qualitative descriptors show that the state of the sea is poor in some respects, solutions must be found to improve its status.

There is a whole host of different qualitative descriptors within the monitoring programme. These include biodiversity, fish stocks, eutrophication, and hazardous substances.

The Programme of Measures evaluates current maritime management and proposes new actions

The maritime Programme of Measures assesses the adequacy of existing maritime management activities and, if necessary, proposes new actions to achieve the qualitative objectives set for maritime management. Thus, this programme largely guides Finnish maritime management.

The current Programme of Measures covers the period from 2016 to 2022. It aims to reduce negative anthropogenic impacts on the sea and to improve the state of the marine environment through direct management measures. The objective is the good status of the sea.

This programme focuses primarily on safeguarding marine biodiversity and overcoming eutrophication. Many other problems are also being addressed, from the risks of drugs entering the sea to the risks of maritime oil transportation.

The Programme of Measures includes hundreds of detailed actions

The Programme of Measures contains hundreds of concrete actions. Among other things, these measures reduce nutrient loads, marine litter, and underwater noise at sea, as well as the emissions of hazardous substances.

Also, this programme regulates fishing and hunting, as well as safeguarding the occurrence of sensitive species and habitats. These measures also include drafting a plan to prevent the introduction and spread of alien species.

The Baltic Sea Action Plan covers the entire Baltic Sea

Since the Baltic Sea is an international body of water, cooperation with other coastal states must be practised in maritime management. Such joint efforts are enshrined in the Baltic Sea Action Plan of the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, i.e. HELCOM.

The Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) was approved in 2007 and its nutrient load component was confirmed in 2013. The implementation of this plan will be monitored on a country by country basis. The BSAP is currently being updated.