2 February 2021
An online workshop organized in the framework of an INTERREG Baltic Sea Region programme project COMPLETE (www.balticcomplete.com) to present an Early Warning System (EWS) on findings of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens (HAOP) in the Baltic Sea and its implementation in the AquaNIS information system was held on January 19, 2021. The event was organized by the Marine Research Institute, Klaipėda University and attended by 39 participants from 13 countries and intergovernmental organization HELCOM. The participants were introduced to a model agreement that defines the roles and responsibilities of those who send and receive the alert. The “Fast Track” was introduced, which aims to simplify the entry of the data required to send an alert. During the discussion, the participants were asked to answer questions (“Do you know what to do when you receive a warning signal?” and “Do you know which institutions in your country will you send a warning signal to?”). Finally, participants were asked to complete a questionnaire to summarize their views on how the EWS can help implement the Ballast Water Management Convention.
26 January 2021
The proposal for a Regional Baltic Biofouling Management Roadmap, compiled by the COMPLETE project, has been presented at the 20th Meeting of the HELCOM Maritime Working Group on 5-8 October 2020 (MARITIME 20-2020), and the 11th Meeting of the Joint HELCOM/OSPAR Task Group on Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC) and Biofouling on 26-27 November 2020 (TG BALLAST 11-2020). The Meetings supported the Roadmap as a good example for regional cooperation.
Furthermore, an extract of the Roadmap will be submitted to the next meeting of IMO Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR8) to directly support the work of the IMO Correspondence Group on the Review of the Biofouling Guidelines as an input from the COMPLETE project as it provides useful input for this IMO process.
9 October 2020
The proposal for a Regional Baltic Biofouling Management Roadmap, compiled by the COMPLETE project, was presented at the 20th Meeting of the HELCOM Maritime Working Group on 5-8 October 2020. The Meeting supported the Roadmap as a good example for regional cooperation. It will now be considered by the HELCOM/OSPAR TG BALLAST to further elaborate, finalize and agree to it, followed by direct submission to HOD 59-2020 for approval and subsequent adoption by HELCOM 42-2021.
Furthermore, Maritime invited interested Contracting Parties to submit the draft Roadmap for consideration to the IMO Correspondence Group on the Review of the Biofouling Guidelines as an input from the COMPLETE Project as it provides useful input for this IMO process.
Correct identification of target species, i. e. species, which “may impair or damage the environment, human health, property or resources and are defined for a specific port, State or biogeographic region” (IMO, 2007. Guidelines for Risk Assessment Under Regulation A-4 of the BWM Convention) is of critical importance for the management of biological invasions, resulting both from ships’ ballast water and biofouling. Traditional species identification methods that are based on the morphology of organisms can be time consuming and require taxonomic expertise which is often lacking, moreover such methods may fail to identify species at early life stages. That’s why the COMPLETE project focused on the further development of molecular methods that allow quick and accurate identification of target species at any stage of life.
COMPLETE project applied for a prolongation of six months for adjusting the project activities with the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. All planned activities are expected to be finalized by the end of the prolongation period, March 2021.
COMPLETE project will be followed by an extension stage project COMPLETE PLUS “Practical implementation of the COMPLETE project outputs and tools”, receiving co-financing from the Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme. The project will start in April 2021 and end in December 2021, and it will be implemented by 11 COMPLETE project partners. The project aims to ensure that COMPLETE project outputs will be operationalized to ensure their sustainable use by all relevant actors and stakeholders. Further information about the COMPLETE PLUS will be shared at the COMPLETE web page in due time (www.balticcomplete.com).
Introduction of nonindigenous species (NIS) into a new environments is now identified as a major threat to the world`s seas and oceans biodiversity. These species are transported out of their native habitats mainly by ships, either in ballast tanks or on the hulls to which they attach. Hull`s biofouling is considered to be primary vector responsible for introduction of NIS. In the environments they are introduced to, in addition to threatening biodiversity, NIS can also have a negative impact on economic stability of the industries that depend on the coastal and marine environment. Due to this information about ship traffic and the size of hull surface that can be potentially biofouled, can be used by stakeholders and authorities for developing management strategies to minimize the NIS introduction risk. Furthermore, obtained data might be highly relevant for the waste management of hull cleaning services in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). Thus, it is important to estimate the biofouling potential of ships entering and operating in the Baltic Sea.
Due to increasing commercial shipping and boaters activity the risk of arrival of non-indigenous species (NIS) in the Baltic Sea also increases. Hull fouling is considered to be one of a main vectors of NIS introduction beyond their natural range. Thus nonindigenous species are observed first in port areas. However not only ports and marinas are vulnerable to invasions but also other places which offer favorable settlement surfaces for these species, ranging from quays and piers in ports to offshore hard surfaces of drilling units or wind farms. Sensitive areas, e.g. marine protective areas (MPAs), but also industrial seawater discharge sites or nuclear plant sites where water is warmer than nearby are prone to be invaded by NIS as well.
Molecular techniques are advancing rapidly and are increasingly promoted in aquatic systems observations. These methods are particularly useful for early detection of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens (HAOP) which may be transported in ballast water or on ship hulls including potential HAOP such as newly arriving non-indigenous species (NIS). The identification of NIS, surveillance of high-priority pest species, determination of the source and pathways of invasion, as well as the genetic structure of the founding populations can be solved with new tools. Molecular monitoring is needed in order to address all biotic components as NIS may belong to any trophic level and be found in various man-made as well as natural habitats.
Non-indigenous species (NIS) monitoring is to address all biotic communities as NIS may belong to any taxonomic group and be found in various man-made as well as natural habitats. There has not been a monitoring programme to target especially NIS in the Baltic Sea but presently observations have been collected from various surveys and programmes in place.
Currently in a beta-testing phase, HELCOM and OSPAR’s joint online tool for facilitating decisions on granting exemptions on ballast water management in their waters is soon getting a new interface as well as additional and improved features.
The tool was initially jointly developed by HELCOM and OSPAR to assist decision-making by their respective member countries on exemptions on ballast water management such as discharges in their waters. Since 2017, ballast water from ships is being strictly regulated by an IMO guideline, the Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC).