Scenario 1 – the Gulf of Finland

Description of the area

ENERGY

Wind power is difficult to develop in the Gulf of Finland due to restrictions of the Finnish Defence Force, inhabitation and migratory paths of birds. Offshore wind farms are mostly placed in the western parts of the Gulf of Finland in front of Helsinki, Porkkalanniemi and Hanko, although companies are not willing to invest on wind power in such restricted conditions. Import of energy from Russia is emphasised and new investments are made on the Loviisa power station.

MARITIME TRANSPORT

The growth of maritime transport causes the need to build additional port infrastructure (especially for passenger traffic) and to obtain new areas of expansion for ports. Accident risks on the Gulf of Finland increase with the increasing maritime traffic (increased risk of oil and chemical accident). Autonomous vessels also create a new kind of safety threat to the busy Gulf of Finland. The Helsinki–Tallinn tunnel and Rail Baltica (Warsaw to Tallinn) increase passenger traffic. Traffic integration also possibly contains a one-hour rail connection to St. Petersburg and an electrical cable under the Gulf of Finland. Commuting moves to the faster train connection and some work-related travel and leisure travel continue on ships, which keeps the ship traffic volumes close to the current level. The volume of touring cruise ships has increased.

STATE OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT

The state of the maritime area clearly collapses in the Gulf of Finland: the salt content decreases, species decrease, eutrophication accelerates and alien species become more common. Especially the growth of the capital region (traffic, erosion, littering etc.) and the increase in hazardous substances with the increased maritime traffic cause a burden to the Gulf of Finland. Agricultural load is particularly important in the eastern Gulf of Finland (catchment basins). The growth of St. Petersburg increases challenges related to waste water in the Baltic Sea. Water pollution from forestry and the use of peat also increases in the Gulf of Finland.

FISHING AND AQUACULTURE

Fish species are in poor condition due to the poor state of the maritime area, which weakens the possibilities for fishing in the area.  Various alien species may be found in the Gulf of Finland due to the increased maritime traffic. Leisure fishing increases slightly especially in front of Hanko and Kotka, but the poor condition of the sea reduces the popularity of fishing. Foreign demand for fish is strong, which is reflected in the increase of aquaculture in the area. Aquaculture facilities are set up in the most profitable areas of the Gulf of Finland, in front of Porvoo, for example. Due to the development of technology, blue mussel and algae are farmed for use in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries, among other things.

TOURISM AND RECREATIONAL USE

The negative effects of climate change elsewhere bring tourists to Finland. The large tourist volumes to the Gulf of Finland cause a burden to the maritime environment, and the region has to balance between the increased tourism and sustainability. The negative impact of large cruise ships are reflected on the nature and the submarine cultural heritage. The cities of the Gulf of Finland and the nearby archipelago benefit from the increased cruise travel, and one-day stops in Finland energise the companies of the region. Industrial tourism attracts foreign tourists in Loviisa and Kotka. Recreational use of the sea has diminished in the Gulf of Finland due to the degeneration of the ecosystem. The privatisation of maritime areas weakens everyman’s rights and makes recreational use and private boating more difficult. Massive cruise travel may also reduce recreational use if the cruise ships cause considerable waste water discharges.  

CULTURAL HERITAGE

The depopulation of the archipelago endangers built heritage. Cultural history sites (incl. war history) may become sites of major interest for tourists, and new technologies are used to model cultural heritage into the virtual environment.

Risks and opportunities

The Gulf of Finland

ECOLOGICAL STATE OF THE SEA

  • Risks include disturbing the ecological balance, deterioration of water quality, sedimentation of harmful substances, excessive capital focus, increased cruise tourism, risk of oil accident, increased pressure on the environment especially around Helsinki
  • Opportunities include the reduced use of border areas due to centralisation of activities and improved state of the environment, maximising raw materials efficiency, globalisation of environmental activism putting pressure in favour of sustainable operating methods
  • To be considered in particular in the planning of the maritime area: strengthening the role/steering effect of planning towards companies, increasing participation/transparency (impartial information), protecting submarine nature (such as construction noise/mapping of silent areas)

SUSTAINABLE GROWTH OF BLUE ECONOMY

  • Risks include powerful and short-sighted use of natural resources, escaping of benefits from the area, reduced diversity and locality of the tourism industry due to the increased tourism volumes
  • Opportunities include increased cruise tourism in the Kotka region and in small cities of the Gulf of Finland, development of logistics services, new economic uses of blue-green algae, lease and sales income for owners of waters
  • To be considered in particular in the planning of the maritime area: enabling the operations causing the least conflicts with local interests (most suitable location for industries, significance of overall planning), preparing for compensation models by means of regional planning

PEOPLE’S WELL-BEING AND PARTICIPATION

  • Risks include reduced opportunities for participation (decision-making abroad, lack of local knowledge), polarization of regions and withering of border areas, decreasing living satisfaction and attractivity, cultural impoverishment
  • Opportunities include new job opportunities especially outside the capital area, such as in the Kotka region, improved connections (Finland–Europe) 
  • The planning of the maritime area has a central role in the strengthening of participation and in land use guidance (such as recreational areas, ownership and security of supply)