Scenario 1 – Northern Sea of Bothnia, the Kvarken and the Bay of Bothnia

Description of the area

ENERGY

The technically and economically easiest offshore sites are utilised for energy production (the closest available space near the shore in shallow areas). Offshore wind power increases in front of Kemi-Tornio and Raahe, Pietarsaari and Kaskinen in particular. Industrial greenwashing projects with a climate perspective are constructed near existing industrial and port infrastructure. Other environmental values and comprehensive coordination are neglected in the placement of industry.

MARITIME TRANSPORT

Vessel traffic between states also increases in the northern maritime area and the Vaasa–Uumaja connection is developed further. The transport of goods is transferred nationally to more loosely populated regions. The development of the area proceeds under the terms of big businesses, and the interests forest industry, for example, are strongly reflected in area planning. Some of the northern ports have been sold to foreign ownership and large port entities are doing well. The operation of small ports gets more difficult and port mergers take place in the area. The volume of touring cruisers increases and some also stop for a day in the northern ports. Autonomous shipping increases significantly in the Bay of Bothnia (after the introduction of test areas) and some routes are operated with autonomous vessels.

STATE OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT

Many problems of the Baltic Sea aggravate and the sea gets sweeter. Floods are a major problem in the northern maritime areas. The increased rainfall also reduces the Baltic Sea’s salt concentration and increases the runoff of nutrients from the ground. The shallow maritime areas in the north suffer the most when the condition of the sea deteriorates.

FISHING AND AQUACULTURE

Commercial fishing for food ends or changes into fishing of forage fish, which increases significantly. The removal of migration barriers is cancelled and migratory fish populations decrease even further. Typical sweet water fish species become more common (vendace, pike, pike-perch, bass) and the fishing of vendace increases in particular; vendace is trawled further away from the shore. Open sea fishing focuses on the Kvarken. Leisure fishing decreases due to the deterioration of the sea and loss of skills. The increased water temperature hinders aquaculture in the south and the pressure to move towards the north increases. The placement of aquaculture facilities is determined based on profitability and production focuses in the front of Kaskinen/Kristiinankaupunki near offshore wind farms, in front of Pietarsaari and most powerfully to the Bay of Bothnia, north of Hailuoto. The grey seal population grows in the north, making coastal fishing more difficult.

TOURISM AND RECREATIONAL USE

Tourism focuses on the largest cities (Oulu and Vaasa). Marine military and cultural sites are taken into tourism use. International tourists take over the maritime sites, even at the expense of recreational use by residents. “Arctic Sea” gains popularity as an incentive travel destination and supporter of positive image of big corporations. Seals are marketed as an attraction to lucrative hunting tourism.

CULTURAL HERITAGE

Cultural history sites which can be reached easily become a major interest of tourists, which leads to endangering them without strict guidance. Use of the Bay of Bothnia national park increases. Even Unesco sites may be endangered due to increased industry and tourism.

MARITIME INDUSTRY AND MINERALS

The extraction of sand from the sea increases in the Bay of Bothnia as the minerals industry expands to the sea. Port operations and maritime industry need more and more space, and they cannot focus solely on southern cities or near residential areas. More sparsely populated areas may also receive investments. With the foreign investments, also profits leach abroad, which causes problems to the economy with the disappearance of tax base.

Risks and opportunities

Northern Sea of Bothnia, the Kvarken and the Bay of Bothnia

ECOLOGICAL STATE OF THE SEA

  • Risks include the deterioration of the marine environment, oxygen loss, seal damage, eutrophication and increased nutrient contents, alien species, weak local interests, increased maritime transport, harmful environmental effects of the increased mineral industry
  • Opportunities include the centralisation of operations which reduces the pressure caused by people on the border and intervening areas (restoration of natural values)
  • To be considered in particular in the planning of the maritime area: placement of operations, adequate initial information and understanding of impacts, increasing the role and steering effect of planning of the maritime area

SUSTAINABLE GROWTH OF BLUE ECONOMY

  • Risks include the unsustainable use of natural resources, poor water quality, lack of space, multiplicative effects, reduced popularity of natural fish
  • Opportunities include new innovations, cleantech, circular economy, synergy benefits, side streams from the industry, development of maritime industry in the arctic areas, expansion of commuter area (Vaasa–Uumaja), increased competence, stronger business community in e.g. Oulu region
  • To be considered in particular in the planning of the maritime area: the placement of “cleansing” areas, selection of main ports and fairways, development areas of different activities, highlighting regional competence, cross-border cooperation with Sweden, connection to the solutions of industrial sectors

PEOPLE’S WELL-BEING AND PARTICIPATION

  • Risks include reduced recreation opportunities, reduced everyman’s rights, littering and indifference, powerful growth of tourism, escape of financial benefits, increased conflicts, oil accidents
  • Opportunities include the availability of capital, increased civil activity, sense of community (as a counterforce), improved employment situation
  • To be considered in particular in the planning of the maritime area: participative planning, identification of critical areas and coordination of operations, utilisation of local competence