Gulf of Finland

Situational picture

Description of the planning area

The Gulf of Finland planning area extends from Hanko’s western marine area to Finland’s border with Russia in Virolahti, comprising the marine areas of the Uusimaa and Kymenlaakso regions. The Gulf of Finland’s total surface area is 7,700 km2, its average depth is 25 m, its maximum depth is over 100 m and the volume of its water mass is 200 km3. The gulf has over 15,000 islands and its shoreline spans a distance of more than 8,000 km. Numerous large rivers flow into the Gulf of Finland, which make the gulf a large brackish water basin.

Approximately 1.9 million people live in the regions within the Gulf of Finland’s planning area. The most obvious population centre in the region is the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, which comprises Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen, and which has some 1.2 million inhabitants. Other largest settlement centres on the coast are Hanko, Ekenäs, Porvoo, Loviisa, Kotka and Hamina, and Kirkkonummi, whose centre is located in inland Finland. There are also plenty of holiday homes on the Gulf of Finland coast and in its archipelago.

The maritime livelihoods practiced in the Gulf of Finland focus particularly on the maritime logistics and tourism sectors and their related industries. The Gulf of Finland has the largest volumes of goods and passenger transport by sea of all Finnish marine areas, and the country’s largest ports Helsinki, Kotka and Hamina are located in the region.

The southern coast of Finland is formed of a hard crystalline bedrock, which is geologically highly diverse due to glaciation and partly due to erosion that continued after glaciation. At the same time, the shape of the coast is very permanent, as the sea ice or waves hardly erodes the rocks. The Gulf of Finland’s seafloor slopes down southward towards the coast of Estonia, where the bedrock dives under softer layers of sedimentary rocks. The softer sedimentary rocks are susceptible to erosion, which is why the shape of the Estonian coast differs quite substantially from the Finnish coast.

Further east, the crystalline bedrock of the western Gulf of Finland is cut through by the Vyborg rapakivi intrusion, which covers our entire eastern marine area. Geodiversity is particularly high in the marine area extending from Loviisa to Hamina, as well as off the coasts of Hanko, Helsinki, and Sipoo.

In addition to islands and reefs, different types of mixed sediment and moraine belts, underwater ridges and other glacier born formations stand out from the seafloor plain. These are important areas with regard to marine biodiversity. These formations are found especially off the coasts of Pyhtää, Kotka and Hankoniemi, and in the sector between Pellinki and Kaunissaari.

The decline in salinity when travelling east in the Gulf of Finland is an important factor that characterises the natural conditions in the marine area. A number of rivers that bring an abundance of fresh water flow into the Gulf of Finland, the most significant of which is Neva in Russia. The most significant of that rivers that are entirely located in Finland is Kymijoki, whose water areas are among the largest in Finland. The Gulf of Finland’s salinity changes gradually from almost zero at its end to about six per mil in the Hanko region. On average, the salinity of Finland’s territorial sea waters in the Gulf of Finland is 4.8 per mil, which is nearly the national average (4,7 ‰). Due to the brackish waters with low levels of salinity, the Gulf of Finland is home to a small number of species compared to the oceans, as few species are able to live in brackish water.

Certain ecosystems provide particularly good conditions for the survival and reproduction of marine organisms. These marine habitats that must be protected include estuaries, coastal lagoons, narrow brackish water bays, large shallow bays, esker islands, underwater sandbanks, reefs as well as rocky islets and islands in the outer archipelago.

Sandbanks are found especially in the marine areas of Kymenlaakso and off the coast of Hankoniemi. The submerged ridges are also concentrated in Kymenlaakso. These include the Kaunissaari-Ristisaari area in Pyhtää, Lehmäsaari in Kotka and Kauholma in Virolahti. Twenty shallow bays have been identified in the Gulf of Finland. They are spread out somewhat evenly across the entire coastal strip. Some of these can also be classified as lagoons. There are narrow brackish water bays located, for example, off Raseborg, Porkkalanniemi, Loviisa and Virojoki.

Some of the area’s species play a more important role than others in the functioning of habitats. These so-called key species offer shelter, a point of fixation and nutrition, while they clean the water and oxidise the seafloor sludge. These species, which support the viable living conditions of other species, include macroalgae, of which especially the bladder wrack, bay mussel, Baltic clam and seawrack. The Gulf of Finland’s species change gradually from sea species to freshwater species when travelling closer to mouth of the Neva River. The marine species the bladder wrack, seawrack and blue mussel are only abundant in the western parts of the Gulf of Finland. Gelidium and alien specie the Zebra mussel dominate the eastern parts of the Gulf of Finland.

State of the marine environment

Humans have had an impact on the marine environment for a long time and in many ways, as a result of which the state of the Baltic Sea has deteriorated. The state of the marine environment has deteriorated due to factors such as the loading of nutrients and harmful substances, dredging and piling of dredging spoils, underwater civil engineering, invasive species, fishing, littering and underwater noise pollution. In order to achieve a good state of the marine environment, pressures caused by humans must be reduced and new activities located in marine area must be located and designed to minimise adverse impacts.

The rocky shores characteristic of the Gulf of Finland, which were formed by glaciers and the underwater rocks that form reefs, are areas of particular biodiversity. Approximately one third of the Gulf of Finland’s seafloor is covered by a soft sludge mattress the layers of which are from rock material eroded by the ice age and later from soil that has entered the waters from land areas. In places, the seafloor’s clay cover can be tens of metres thick. In addition to islands and reefs, different types of mixed sediment and moraine belts, underwater ridges and other glacier born formations, which are important with regard to the marine biodiversity of the area, stand out from the seafloor plain.

The canyons that have formed in the fault lines that crisscross the seafloor along which currents carry oxygenated water and fine soil. In addition, the special characteristic of the Gulf of Finland, the depressions in the seafloor caused by the archipelago and underground forms, weakens water flow between the inner and outer archipelago. The Gulf of Finland’s species change gradually from sea species to freshwater species when travelling closer to mouth of the Neva River. The marine species the bladder wrack, bay mussel, and seawrack only live in abundant number in the western parts of the Gulf of Finland. Gelidium and alien specie the Zebra mussel dominate the eastern parts of the Gulf of Finland.

Humans have had an impact on the marine environment for a long time and in many ways, as a result of which the state of the Baltic Sea has deteriorated. The state of the marine environment has deteriorated due to factors such as the loading of nutrients and harmful substances, dredging and piling of dredging spoils, underwater civil engineering, invasive species, fishing, littering and underwater noise pollution. In order to achieve a good state of the marine environment, pressures caused by humans must be reduced and new activities located in marine area must be located and designed to minimise adverse impacts.

Dozens of protected areas of regional value that are over 5 hectares in size are located in Finland’s marine areas in the Gulf of Finland. Some of these overlap with marine Natura 2000 sites. The conservation criteria for Natura sites vary, but most include the protection of migratory waterfowls as many of the sites are their resting and moulting areas. Many areas are also important for nesting birds. These areas are typically shallow inner bays with abundant aquatic vegetation or flads, which are also important spawning areas for fish. The abundance of vegetation and species often also spreads to shallow shores, in which case the site conserves several different habitats and areas in which species occur. The conservation criteria, also include an assessment of the areas’ value in relation to the regional occurrence of biotopes. The establishment or expansion of protected areas that support Natura values is partly still underway.

The aim of water resource and sea management is to ensure that the state of both surface and ground waters as well as that of the marine environment is good. The state of the marine environment is assessed through 11 qualitative descriptors of good status listed in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Definitions of good status have been prepared for each descriptor, and the realisation of the good status is assessed using several indicators. The state of the marine environment is classified as either good or poor. When the state of the marine environment is classified as good, this means that the influence of humans is visible but has not caused significant and irreversible changes. Marine management examines the same area as maritime spatial planning, i.e. coastal waters and open sea from the coast to the external border of the economic zone.

According to the latest assessment by the Finnish Environment Institute, the ecological status of the marine area in the Gulf of Finland is mainly satisfactory and partly unsatisfactory. It is positive that the deterioration in the state of the sea has in many respects halted in recent years, and there are signs that the state of the sea has improved. The aim of water resource and sea management is to achieve an ecological status of aquatic and marine environment classified as good.

A key factor causing the deterioration in the state of the Baltic Sea is nutrient loading, which is composed of scattered loading and point-source-loading. Additionally, solid material loading from land areas enters waters. Finland’s share of nutrient load that ends up in the Baltic Sea has declined considerably since the 1970s and 1980s, and the eutrophication trend has declined in many marine areas as a whole. Eutrophication is also increasing in the Gulf of Finland, although the level of most indicators has remained the same in recent years. Seafloor habitats and plankton communities in water columns are also in poor condition. With regard to species the situation is unfavourable for sprat, cod, sea trout, the Baltic seal and harbour porpoise and nesting sea birds. The state of the sea is good with regard to impurities found in fish intended for human consumption, hydrographic changes, alien species, many fish stocks and the grey seal, and wintering sea birds.

The state of Finland’s marine environment is assessed as part of Finland’s Marine Strategy, which is based on the Act on Water Resources Management (1299/2014). This summary on the state of the marine environment in the planning area is essentially based on the Status of Finland’s Marine Environment 2018 (PDF), which has been prepared as part of Finland’s Marine Strategy. The Status of Finland’s Marine Environment 2018 covers marine biodiversity, the state of commercial fish stocks and food networks, the current status of the spread of alien species, eutrophication, littering and the status of hazardous and harmful substances. The report classifies the state of the marine environment as either good or poor for all these factors. The marine strategy assessment will supplement the classification of surface waters, which includes coastal waters, carried out as part of water resources management The water management classification divides surface waters into five ecological categories: Poor, unsatisfactory, satisfactory, good and excellent.

Blue growth

Finland’s most important freight ports and the busiest passenger port in Europe are located in the Gulf of Finland. The area has strong port and logistics expertise. Frequent maritime transport has also created training related to maritime transport in the Gulf of Finland. Research and development activities in oil spill clearance are state-of-the-art in the Gulf of Finland’s area. Expertise in arctic shipping is also seen as the region’s international strength. The Kotka Maritime Research Centre carries out research for the development of sustainable maritime transport.

Large tourist flows have created a significant amount of training related to tourism sector business, especially in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area.

The Blue Economy refers to sea-based livelihoods. The blue economy includes activities that take place in the marine environment, exploit marine resources or are involved in the provision of goods or services that contribute to economic activity in the marine environment.

Blue Growth refers to the ecologically, economically, socially, and culturally sustainable use of marine resources.

The production of energy and the associated built and zoned infrastructure consists mainly of zoned wind power areas, marine cables and gas pipelines in marine areas. In addition, there are several power plants on the coast that utilise the marine area, for example, for fuel transport and as a source of cooling water. In particular, the heat load to the sea caused by the cooling of the oil refinery in Porvoo’s Kilpilahti and the Loviisa nuclear power plant is high, but its impact is limited to a few kilometres from the plants.

The needs of national defence in the Gulf of Finland severely limit the possibilities of for the production of offshore wind power and there are no offshore wind turbines in the Gulf of Finland. There are 10 wind turbines on the coast of Kymenlaakso that produce approximately 71 GWh per year. No wind power infrastructure has been built in Uusimaa.

Finland is reliant on maritime transport; 90% of exports and 80% of imports are transported by sea. The smooth flow of maritime traffic is of great importance to the Gulf of Finland. The majority of Finland’s sea freight and passenger traffic are transported in the Guld of Finland.

A total of 50,000 tonnes of cargo passes through the Gulf of Finland’s ports each year. The largest ports in the Gulf of Finland are HaminaKotka, Helsinki, Hanko and Sköldvik. The value of the export and import goods that pass through these is almost 60% of all of Finland’s import and export transports. HaminaKotka is Finland’s largest universal port, and its different parts include a container harbour, liquid and dry bulk product harbour, a gas harbour, a RoRo harbour and a project harbour. The Port of Sköldvik is Finland’s largest by tonnage. Sköldvik mainly handles crude oil, ready processed oil products, gases and chemicals. The Port of Hanko specialises in forest industry exports and car imports. Container and RoRo transport as well as bulk cargo pass through the various parts of the Port of Helsinki.

The future of maritime transport in the Gulf of Finland is also linked to the development of other forms of transport and mobility in the region. The Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) includes the North Sea-Baltic Sea and the Scandinavian and Mediterranean core networks.

The Port of Helsinki is the largest passenger harbour in Europe by number of passengers. Approximately 12.6 million passengers pass through the Port of Helsinki every year. The most popular route runs between Helsinki and Tallinn, but regular scheduled services also serve the needs of freight traffic to a great extent. The marine area between Tallinn and Helsinki has considerably frequent traffic, but vessel safety is considered to have improved over the last ten years and the risk of a collision between intersecting vessels is considered low. There is also a lot of passenger traffic between Stockholm and Helsinki. Cruises from Helsinki to St. Petersburg has been declining, with only 210,000 passengers in 2017. On the other hand, international cruise ship traffic is growing. Ports which are stopover points for large cruise ships include Helsinki and Kotka’s Mussalo and Kantasatama.

The rich and diverse fish stocks in the Gulf of Finland have provided good opportunities for increasing professional fishing. Small-scale professional fishing in the vicinity of the coast usually consists of multi-species fishing with fish traps and nets. The majority of fishermen operating in the Gulf of Finland are coastal fishermen. In 2019, there were 47 fishermen belonging to Group I and 220 fishermen belonging to Group II in the planning area. Fishing has recently been a declining industry in the Gulf of Finland due to the ageing of professional fishermen, and the industry is not attractive to new operators. Trawling plays an extremely small role in fishing here compared to other Finnish marine areas.

As is the case with Finnish marine areas in general, the majority of fish caught from the Gulf of Finland are herring and sprat. A total of over 10 million kilogrammes of these are fished each year. In addition, a few dozen tons of pike, salmon and whitefish are fished in the Gulf of Finland. Finnish fishermen fish significant quantities of salmon even compared to the standard amounts fished in the Baltic Sea. However, fishing in the Gulf of Finland is minor in comparison to that of other marine areas. All major ports in Finland for the offloading of catches are located outside the Gulf of Finland’s planning area.

The majority of fish grown in Finnish marine areas are produced in the Archipelago Sea. There are only a few fish farming companies in the Gulf of Finland. Fisheries are generally centred in the eastern part of the Gulf of Finland, the marine areas Loviisa, Pyhtää and Virojoki. The poor state of the waters in the Gulf of Finland does not allow for the expansion of aquaculture in its current form.

The pull factors of nature, cultural environments and landscape areas in the archipelago and coastal areas are important factors in the development of maritime tourism. The sea is without a doubt the key element of the Gulf of Finland’s nature, and, in this respect, its significance to the attractiveness of the region is great. In addition to coastal cities, the coast of the Gulf of Finland has numerous marine-themed cultural sites, such as fortresses, villa and ironworks areas and shipwrecks. The most important individual tourist destination is UNESCO World Heritage Site Suomenlinna.

One of the clear strengths of maritime tourism in the Gulf of Finland is its location along busy shipping routes. In addition to the frequent route traffic, the nearness of Stockholm, St. Petersburg and other cultural cities in the Baltic Sea Region makes the area attractive for large cruise ships that have started to stop not only in Helsinki but also in Kotka.

The Helsinki Metropolitan Area is a key travel intersection due to the Helsinki International Airport and heavy passenger ferry traffic. In total the overnight stays by tourists in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area is equal to the number of overnight stays in the rest of Finland’s coastal areas. Of these, half were overnight stays by foreign visitors.

The potential of fishing and nature tourism in the Gulf of Finland is immense. Kymijoki is an important fishing river. A change has taken place in leisure-time fishing and fishing tourism from needs-based fishing to recreational fishing, which creates new opportunities for the tourism industry.

Recreational fishermen catch significant quantities of coastal fish species, such as European perch and pike-perch. They also catch nearly the same amount of salmon and trout as professional fishers. The catches of professional and recreational fishermen in the Gulf of Finland are roughly equal in value. The recreational value acquired from fishing is several times the value of the catch.

The seaside environment is also important for recreational use. Of Finland’s national parks located by the sea, Gulf of Finland National Park and the Ekenäs Archipelago National Park are located in the Gulf of Finland.

Marine cultural heritage is tangible and intangible cultural heritage both above-ground and underwater, which is linked to man’s relationship with the sea and the resources found in the past by a community.

Maritime cultural heritage includes both concrete traces in the landscape and skills, customs and habits related to the marine landscape, such as practices, knowledge, stories and beliefs. These have been passed on from generation to generation helping to present, build and maintain the identities of different communities.

Marine cultural heritage is traces left by humans and elements produced by interaction between humans and nature in a marine environment. Marine cultural heritage is limited to the terrestrial and semi-waterborne areas of the coast, the archipelago and the outer sea, and is visible as the underwater landscape.

Marine cultural heritage is linked, among other things, to the settlement of the coast and the archipelago, maritime transport, fishing and other marine hunting culture, diving, and customs and beliefs that have linked humans to the marine environment.

The archipelago and coastal areas of the Gulf of Finland have been a cradle for social development. The first Stone Age inhabitants who arrived after the Ice Age already utilised the hunting grounds and fishing waters of the coast. Traditional archipelago settlements and coastal fishing villages are good examples of the built environment in the Gulf of Finland. The coastal zone has been a meeting place for different cultures both in times of war and peace. Trade has been conducted throughout history, especially with Sweden and Estonia, but also with other coastal states in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea.

The majority of Finland’s known shipwrecks in the Gulf of Finland where there are a total of 722 wrecks. These include wrecks from the 16th century to the Second World War, both commercial and military vessels, as well as pleasure yachts, barges and peasants’ vessels, etc. The diversity of the wrecks is the result the Gulf of Finland’s key status as a fairway and passage throughout history.

The current area of Kotka was a stage for battles between Sweden and Russia at the end of the 1700s. Two sea battles (1788 and 1790) were fought in the area, the latter of which, measured by the number of ships and men, was the largest sea battle ever fought in the Baltic Sea. These sea battles also formed an underwater cultural landscape in the area.

Numerous old harbours are known to have been on the coast of the Gulf of Finland and the coast of the Gulf of Finland has an ancient shipping lane, the first written description of which is a Danish Itinerario from the turn of 1300s. The maritime infrastructure of the Gulf of Finland planning area also includes fairways, canals, bridges, cable ferries and piers ad well as land and sea signs that guided traffic, such as cairns, beacons and lighthouses.

Military history and defence structures are an integral part of the maritime heritage of the Gulf of Finland. Fortress hills were equipped for defence already during the Iron Age. The coast was systematically fortified in the 1700s, during the power struggle between Sweden-Finland and Russia, and all Finnish fortresses from the 1700s are located in the Gulf of Finland’s area. The Swedes built the fortresses off the coast of Hanko, Suomenlinna fortress off the coast of Helsinki and Svartholm fortress off the coast of Loviisa. Russia in turn built the Ruotsinsalmi sea fortress in Kotka to protect its capital city of Saint Petersburg. This was part of a more extensive fortress chain built to protect the eastern border, which continued all the way to Savonlinna.

The popularity of living on the coast and in the archipelago increased at the end of the 19th century, and the beginning of the 20th century which led to the construction of marine-themed health spas in the Gulf of Finland in Helsinki’s Kaivopuisto Park, in Hanko and in Loviisa. Villa communities were also established in the cities as a result of the spas.

Several unique landscapes can be identified along the coasts of the Gulf of Finland planning area. In Uusimaa, these include Ekenäs’ western archipelago coast and archipelago coast off Ekenäs and Inkoo as well as the archipelago coasts between Porkkala and Sipoo and Porvoo and Loviisa. The high seas open to the south of these. In Kymenlaakso, the archipelago landscape is divided into the landscape area south of Tammio and Rankki and the Haapasaari outer marine area. The coastal areas of Pyhtää, Kotka, Hamina and Virolahti can be identified on the coast.

As part of the cultural heritage entries, national urban parks with maritime values have been proposed. Of Finland’s national urban parks three are located in the Gulf of Finland in Hanko, Porvoo and Kotka. The aim of the national urban parks is to preserve urban nature and the built cultural environment as an extensive, integrated whole. The cultural and natural landscape of the Porvoo National Urban Park’s area is that of an estuary which has visible traces left behind by the area’s long history of human settlement and culture. The region includes key antiquity sites and historical urban areas, established old parks and recreational areas and nature conservation areas. The Kotka National Urban Park represents, in particular, the region’s fishing, sawmill industry, war, shipping and trade history, which are also significant nationally. The urban park includes marine areas in the eastern Gulf of Finland, the city centre’s parks and built blocks and the banks of Kymijoki. The Hanko National Unban Park comprises mainland Finland’s coastal green areas, sandy beaches and the valuable sections of the city centre, while in the sea the area’s border follows the municipal border and includes the islands to the south of the city centre and the western archipelago.

The situational picture of Finnish marine cultural heritage 2019 (link) prepared by the Finnish Heritage Agency has been used to support the construction and planning of the situational picture of regional cultural heritage.

The maritime industry consists of equipment manufacturers, turnkey suppliers, design agencies, software and system suppliers as well as shipbuilding, repair and offshore shipyards. The Gulf of Finland region has significant expertise and training in the maritime industry. The Helsinki Shipyard operates in the Gulf of Finland in the same area as Helsinki’s West Harbour. The HaminaKotka Port area houses important port-related industry, such as actors involved in the metal, energy and chemical industries and biorefinery activities.

Research and development activities in oil spill clearance are state-of-the-art in the Gulf of Finland’s area. Expertise in arctic shipping is also seen as the region’s international strength.

The seabed sediments in Finnish marine areas are, geologically speaking, very young. In practice, all sea sand and gravel reserves were formed at the end of the last Ice Age or after that over the past 13,000 years. The recoverable reserves are mainly located in the subsea extensions of the ridges and terminal moraine bodies created when the glacier melted. To a lesser extent, recoverable minerals can be found in other moraine or erosion-caused sand sediments.

The area’s iron manganese deposits are the most interesting seafloor reserves. These have been studied from the 1960s due to their iron, manganese, phosphorus and earth metal reserves. Iron manganese sediments are found in nearly all of Finland’s marine areas. The possibilities for utilising phosphorus bound to the seafloor have also been considered in recent years.

While sea sand and gravel extraction has thus far been of a small scale in Finland, the need to exploit seafloor reserves is expected to grow as the availability of on-land gravel and sand resources declines, especially in the vicinity of growth centres. According to estimates produced in a background report produced by the Geological Survey of Finland, there are be approximately 2-3 billion m3 of sand and gravel in Finland’s marine areas, which is equal to approximately the amount of aggregates used in Finland over a period of 50 years. The estimate is based on the surface area of the surveyed sand and gravel deposits and a sediment thickness of five metres. However, efforts are being made to continuously reduce the use of virgin aggregates, and to transition increasingly to a circular economy in aggregate management.

Iron manganese sediments are found in nearly all of Finland’s marine areas, which are the result of biogeochemical processes in aerobic conditions On the basis of materials and models produced by the Geological Survey of Finland and the Finnish Inventory Programme for the Underwater Marine Environment (VELMU) there is an abundance of iron manganese formations om the Gulf of Finland’s marine areas.

Sea sand and gravel have been extracted from the Gulf of Finland predominantly for the needs of ports. The extraction areas of Soratonttu and Itätonttu are located off the coast of Helsinki. There is also a sea sand and gravel extraction area off the coast of Loviisa. The need to use mineral aggregates from the seafloor has declined due, for example, to aggregates generated in connection with the large infrastructure and other construction projects.

Blue biotechnology is a new sector, which from the perspective of the marine area’s use, refers to biomasses produced and harvested at sea and their production potential. In Finland, biomass potential has mainly been identified for common reed in lakes and less valuable fish. Growing algae in Finnish conditions is challenging due to the small amount of light and cold temperatures. Cultivation potential could be found in various waters containing waste heat and nutrients, which are formed for example by the pulp industry and in wastewaters. The low salinity and poor temperature conditions of Finland’s waters are a challenge in the cultivation of shellfish compared to other areas in the Baltic Sea. The potential for processing specialised products lies especially in the side-streams of the fisheries industry.

The special needs of national defence have been identified and taken into account in EU legislation in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and in Finland’s national legislation in the Land Use and Building Act. Under the Land Use and Building Act, the needs of national defence must be secured and taken into account in land use planning and maritime spatial planning.

The Finnish Defence Forces carry out air and maritime surveillance in accordance with the Act on the Defence Forces (551/2007) and the Territorial Surveillance Act (755/2000) in all of Finland’s national territory and in its vicinity. National defence requires an active approach from the National Defence Forces in marine areas meaning comprehensive surveillance of air and sea. The Gulf of Finland and the southern parts of the Archipelago Sea are very important areas for Finland’s overall defence.

The implementation of the statutory tasks of the Finnish Defence Forces limits the other use of marine areas in some areas to the nature, location and timing of the activities. Finland’s marine areas include secured areas (18), shooting and training areas as well as their associated hazard and restriction areas. From the point of view of national defence, the usability of fairways, the needs of management systems under normal conditions and the underwater structures of the Defence Forces also play a key role. In addition, there may still be naval mines and other munitions during originating from the time Finland was at war and harmful substances from various activities in Finnish marine areas. These should be taken into account and examined on a case-by-case basis in more detailed planning.

Secured areas that are important to the arrangement of national security and territorial surveillance have been appointed in Finland’s marine areas and territorial waters. Their boundaries have been specified very carefully. Finland’s 18 secured areas are located in the Gulf of Finland and the Archipelago Sea. The Territorial Surveillance Act contains provisions on the secured areas and the operating restrictions in these secured areas, the purpose of which is to secure Finland’s territorial integrity. There is usually a military area located within a secured area and these have a 100 metre buffer zone in which civilians are not permitted. The area is marked with signs prohibiting landing ashore and disembarkation. This limits anchoring in the area. Any activities in protected areas require a permit.

The Gulf of Finland is an important area with regard to Finland’s national defence and as the EU’s external border. The activities of the Finish Defence Forces in the Gulf of Finland have been taken into account in the preparation of the maritime spatial plan, for example as a limiting factor for wind power and one factor to take into account in the coordination of other activities.