The Finnish Gulf should be given the status of Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA).
This was the unanimous statement of representatives of the Swedish People’s Party and the Estonian Reformparty together with representatives from the Russian NGOs Green
World, Children of the Baltic and TEIA as they all gathered for a seminar on the state
of the Finnish Gulf in Helsinki on the 12th November.
The PSSA-status can be used as a measure to help coastal nations protect significant marine areas that are vulnerable to the impacts of international shipping activities. It
can be defined as “an area that needs special protection through action by IMO because
of its significance for recognized ecological, socio-economic or scientific reasons and
which may be vulnerable to damage by international shipping activities.”
A PSSA designation would bring international recognition to the special importance of the area and it informs mariners of the importance of taking extra care when navigating through the region. A PSSA-status for the Finnish Gulf would enable our nations’
governments to regulate for example on special competencies or technical equipment to
be needed when trafficking these waters often characterized by extreme conditions.
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is the only international body
responsible for identifying and designating areas as PSSA:s and for adopting associated
protective measures, but it is up to the member states of the IMO to propose a given
area for this. It is also then up to the proposing member state’s government to select and
propose for the area some specific protective mechanisms available through the IMO.
These measures are designed to be a flexible instrument to help coastal nations reduce
the risk of damage from international shipping activities. A thoughtful selection of
protective measures can ensure long-lasting benefits to all.
The Swedish People’s Party, the Reformparty and the NGOs Green World, Children of the Baltic and TEIA, urges the governments in Estonia, Finland and Russia to
immediately start preparing for a proposal to be made to the IMO to grant PSSA status
to the Finnish Gulf. With shipping activities, and especially the shipping of oil,
increasing in the Finnish Gulf every day, such kind of action is vital if we want to
protect our beautiful, but sensitive environment from a major catastrophe sure to occur
otherwise, sooner or later.
The seminar in Helsinki was one step in the direction of a deeper international co-operation in this sphere between parties and organisations from all the involved
countries. The representatives stress the importance of an active public participation in
the decision-making on planned projects in the regions of the Finnish Gulf and the
importance of making public environmental impact assessments on all the projects
around the area. A more efficient application of the Espoo Convention, that is
informing and involving neighbouring countries in the planning of new ports in the
Finnish Gulf for example, is also essential.