Shipping contributes to the uncontrolled introduction of invasive species to the Baltic Sea, which has severe environmental and economic consequences.

COMPLETE supports the implementation of the new International Maritime Organization’s convention on ballast water management that came into force on 8 September 2017 by triggering regional cooperation, developing risk assessment procedures for ballast water management exemptions and setting a monitoring system of non-indigenous species in the Baltic Sea.



Shipping as the source of invasive aquatic organisms

Shipping is the most important vector of introduction of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens in marine environment worldwide. Such organisms can have significant socioeconomic and ecological impacts when they spread to new sea areas, as they can affect human health, livelihoods like aquaculture and fisheries or alter the structure of marine food webs. The project COMPLETE works towards minimising the introduction of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens by developing a consistent and adaptive management system for the Baltic Sea region.

Challenge to be faced

COMPLETE addresses two major sources of harmful organisms introduction by shipping: ballast water and ship hulls. The project tackles several gaps in current knowledge and management: rights and obligations of involved stakeholders such as ship owners and port authorities; approaches for non-indigenous species monitoring and surveillance for the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the Intermational Maritime Organization Ballast Water Management Convention; risk assessment based exemptions from ballast water management requirements; legal aspects; regional cooperation and information exchange. The technical aspects of that complex problem include yet limited knowledge on antifouling practices and procedures (and resulting level of biofouling); the lack of common cleaning procedures and facilities and their cost-efficiency analysis; quantities of biofouling waste and its handling procedures; and the role of leisure boats and their trailers in primary introductions and secondary spread of invasive species.

COMPLETE cooperation

The project partners of COMPLETE have long-term expertise and know-how in innovative solutions for shipping, risk assessment and management systems, surveillance and monitoring. The participation of HELCOM ensures involvement of relevant institutions from all Baltic Sea countries, harmonising the implementation of the Ballast Water Management Convention and elaboration on the Baltic Sea region biofouling management strategy. Stakeholders linked to the scientific potential in the Baltic Sea region are involved in an Advisory Board.


COMPLETE is funded by the Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme

Duration of the project: 1.10.2017 – 30.09.2020

Total budget: 3.2 million €

More information of the project at Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme project library: Here