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EU Says 'Yes' to €2M SwAM Project for Increased Collaboration in Baltic

The Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management, SwAM, is taking a leading role in developing and coordinating the marine spatial plans for the Baltic Sea. The 2 million euro project “Baltic SCOPE” became a reality after the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) gave the green light.

Representatives from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Poland, Sweden, HELCOM, VASAB, Nordregio, and s.Pro gathered at SwAM's head offices in Gothenburg, Sweden, for the start of BalticSCOPE. Photo: Kat Singer/SwAM.

“We are very glad that the EU Commission has said ‘yes’ to this project,” says Björn Risinger, director general of SwAM. “Sweden borders the most countries in the Baltic Sea, so it is especially important for us to reach maximum consensus in the marine spatial planning process.

“An increase in collaboration and coordination is important for all countries in order to avoid conflicts of interest at sea.”

New Directive Gives Flexibility, Calls for Coordination

Last summer, the EU introduced the Directive for Maritime Spatial Planning which, by 2016, is to be incorporated into all member states’ national legislation. The deadline for developing marine spatial plans is 2021.

The idea is for each EU country to freely plan how various marine-based activities such as shipping, fishing, offshore wind farming, and protected areas could possibly co-exist or need to be separated in different parts of the marine areas. But the planning of the common sea areas is to be a coordinated effort.

The majority of countries in the Baltic Sea region have begun their efforts in developing marine spatial plans. In Sweden, the authority charged with establishing proposals for the country’s plans is the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management.

The Øresund strait between Denmark and Sweden is home to wind farming and is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the Baltic Sea. Photo: Ingvar Lagenfelt.

Solving the Marine Puzzle

“The EU Commission announced last summer the availability of funds toward projects that can contribute to increased coordination between governments, and for finding methods for collaboration and evaluation.

But the purpose is not to create a marine plan for the Baltic Sea; it’s more about seeing how all of the different puzzle pieces can fit together in the best possible way,” says Thomas Johansson, head of marine spatial planning and maritime affairs at SwAM.

SwAM has therefore, together with government agencies in Denmark, Germany, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland, developed a proposal for a two-year project called “Baltic SCOPE.”

Read the project proposal for Baltic SCOPE proposal.PDF

Even representatives for the regional organizations HELCOM (Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission), VASAB (Vision and Strategies around the Baltic Sea), and Nordregio (Nordic Centre for Spatial Development) are involved in the project. Other government authorities in every country will also participate in various efforts.

Case Studies Provide Groundwork

The Baltic Sea is one of the world’s most trafficked and utilized marine areas; simultaneously, it’s home to a unique ecosystem which is threatened by such problems as eutrophication and oxygen deprivation,” explains Johansson. “A number of studies and projects have already been done in the area and we want to take advantage of this existing knowledge and experience.”

The project is comprised of two case studies that build upon marine spatial planning processes that have already begun.

The first encompasses the Baltic Sea’s southwest area which affects Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and Poland. This region is home to many planning areas including the Fehmarn Belt between Germany and Denmark, the Øresund strait between mainland Sweden and Denmark’s most populated island, and offshore bank Kriegers Flak which divides itself among three exclusive economic zones (EEZ).

  • 1. Kriegers Flak - situated among the EEZs of Denmark, Germany, and Sweden
  • 2. Øresund straight - between mainland Sweden and the Danish island of Zealan
  • 3. Fehmarn Belt - between the German island of Fehmarn and the Danish island of Lolland

The other case study comprises the marine area between Estonia, Latvia, and Sweden.

Both case studies will focus on how shipping traffic, wind farming, fishing, and nature conservation function in these areas and how they can compromise.

Positive for Long-Lasting Results

In total, the project is expected to cost just over 2 million euros, 80 percent of which is to be financed by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). The rest of the money will come from the project’s participants.

“The project really answers to the call in terms of bringing all the partners of the sea basin together, implementing the directive, and involving the right and competent authorities which is exactly what we wanted to do. We are very thankful to SwAM for taking the lead in this project and getting the right people together,” says Sylvain Gambert, policy officer at DG MARE European Commission.

“We want the project to deliver something concrete for all the member states involved, real marine spatial plans and real coordination. We also wish that whatever mechanisms, coordination structure, or climate developed through this project will have a long-lasting impact on the Baltic Sea.”

The Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management (SwAM) is a government authority that works to achieve flourishing seas, lakes and streams for the benefit and enjoyment of all. Upon citing our press releases and news stories, please always refer back to us.

Related images may be used for editorial republishing where SwAM and its work are described, one year from the press release's date. Usage for commercial purposes is not permitted. In conjunction to publishing, the name of the photographer and source shall always be stated.

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Published: 2015-03-19

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