One of the threats to organisms in the Baltic Sea is posed by invasive alien species that are transferred by international freight traffic and vessels that come from outside the Baltic Sea. Invasive alien species, which people have introduced unintentionally or intentionally, are considered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to be one of the global major threats to biodiversity. The effects of invasive alien species can be ecological, through the decline or replacement of native species, or genetic, in the form of changes in the gene set of native species. The introduction of invasive alien species often causes costs to the national economy and may even have adverse effects on the population’s health. The marine environment of the Baltic Sea is particularly at risk. At any given time, there are more than 2,000 large vessels out at sea in the Baltic Sea area, and the traffic mainly consists of container ships and oil tankers, for example. According to HELCOM, a total of 14 alien species settled in the Baltic Sea between 2011 and 2015 alone.
The Ballast Water Convention, under the UN’s International Maritime Organization (IMO), applies to all vessels in international traffic that take in and discharge ballast water. In February 2004, the IMO adopted the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments to prevent the transfer of alien species through ships’ ballast water. The convention, the preparation of which took more than ten years, was to enter into force when 30 countries, whose combined merchant fleets constitute no less than 35% of the world’s merchant shipping’s gross tonnage, have ratified it. The Ballast Water Convention entered into force in 2017.
In addition to the implementation of the convention, it may be necessary for the Government of Åland to implement strategies to combat alien species that are considered invasive. Work continues to implement the EU Regulation on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species. This work can be coordinated with the implementation of the Ballast Water Convention.
Objective of the measure:
To implement the EU regulation on invasive alien species and the Ballast Water Convention as well as measures to reduce the number of invasive alien species in the coastal zone and the sea.