September 17, 2020

Stakeholders’ views on sea-based measures: Need for long-term studies and pilots

One of the main objectives of the SEABASED project is to produce practical guidelines on sea-based measures. In addition to the results and experiences from project pilots, the guidelines will also be based on the views of scientists and stakeholders. Read more in the blog post written by Project Manager Eeva Puustjärvi.

Dozens of interviews to collect stakeholders’ views

To collect the stakeholders’ views, we have interviewed experts from local and national authorities, nature conservation organisations, foundations, research institutes and other parties. We interviewed all together over 30 people and got as many viewpoints. Based on the interviews, some stakeholders have a more reserved attitude towards sea-based while others are more open to new sea restoration methods. However, more common ground than disagreement was found in the interviews.

Common understanding on the priorities for helping the Baltic Sea

Firstly, every interviewee wanted to point out that the Baltic Sea protection should keep focus on reducing external load. Too high nutrient loads from land to the sea is the primary problem, which we should solve. Sea-based measures were seen only as complementary measures. The funds used for sea-based measures should not be reallocated from the funds intended to be used for land-based measures. This we totally agree on also in the SEABASED Project.

Most of the interviewees evaluated that sea-based measures could speed up the recovery of the Baltic Sea, if used together with efficient land-based measures. In almost every interview two main challenges came up, that still hinder the use of sea-based measures: risks and costs. We do not have enough experience on these kind of measures in the sea environment. There is not enough scientific information about them, and therefore we do not have a clear understanding of all the possible effects of the measures.

Sea-based measures could speed up the recovery of the Baltic Sea, if used together with efficient land-based measures.

Should we test sea-based measures or not?

Because of the lack of scientific information, some stakeholders have a rather reserved attitude towards the new measures: when we do not know enough, we should not use them. The others  have an opposite attitude: when we do not know enough, we must test to get more information. Still, we must keep in mind the precaution principle. The new pilot measures should be allocated to such sea areas, where there is no risk to cause harm on the local ecosystems. For example, completely dead, anoxic bottoms could be suitable pilot areas for testing the new measures.

Cooperation for better knowledge

Despite the different attitudes towards the unknown risks, most stakeholders agree that we need more studies and pilots on  the new measures, and especially the need for long-term follow-up studies was brought up in the interviews. All the stakeholders called for a wide cooperation between local and national authorities, research institutes, NGOs, local people, and entrepreneurs. A good collaboration would combine scientific and practical information together with an excellent local knowledge. For SEABASED Project, this is an ambitious aim we try to accomplish and advance in our work.

Take a deeper dive into the SEABASED pilots with our video playlist or on the pilot page.

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