Project

COMPLETE - Completing management options in the Baltic Sea Region to reduce risk of invasive species introduction by shipping

Goal: COMPLETE project and its extension stage, COMPLETE PLUS, target shipping's harmful hitchhikers: invasive species.

Address both major pathways of introductions via ships: ballast water and biofouling.

Expected results: knowledge, strategies, and tools for environmentally friendly shipping.

Funding: Interreg Baltic Sea Region

Webpage: https://www.balticcomplete.com/

Date: 1 October 2017 - 31 December 2021

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Project log

Monika Normant-Saremba
added a research item
The study included the sampling of 12 marinas across six areas of the Baltic Sea with settlement plates and scraping of submerged structures to assess the role of marinas in the spread of non-indigenous species (NIS) via biofouling. 15 NIS were detected in the marinas and secondary spread of previously introduced NIS was detected in five out of six sea areas. Salinity and sea area significantly affected the composition of the fouling assemblages. Settlement plates appeared as the more efficient sampling method over scraping, while the seasonal analyses revealed that the monitoring effort should span over the summer and early autumn in the south-eastern, central, and northern Baltic Sea. The present findings indicate that marinas contribute to the spread of non-indigenous fouling organisms, and there is an increasing demand for the monitoring of marinas and stricter regulations regarding the biofouling management of leisure boats in the Baltic Sea.
Annukka Lehikoinen
added 2 research items
Biofouling of ships causes major environmental and economic consequences all over the world. In addition, biofouling management of ship hulls causes both social, environmental and economic risks that should all be considered reaching well-balanced decisions. In addition, each case is unique and thus optimal management strategy must be considered case-specifically. We produced a novel decision support tool using Bayesian networks to promote the comprehensive understanding about the complex biofouling management issue in the Baltic Sea and to identify potential management options and their consequences. The tool compares the biofouling management strategies in relation to NIS (non-indigenous species) introduction risk, eco-toxicological risk due to biocidal coating, carbon dioxide emissions resulting from fuel consumption and costs related to fuel consumption, in-water cleaning and coating. According to the results, the optimal biofouling management strategy would consist of a biocidal-free coating with regular in-water cleaning and with devices collecting the material. However, the best biocidal-free coating type and the optimal in-water cleaning interval varies and depends e.g. on the operational profile of the ship. The decision support tool can increase the multi-perspective understanding about the issue and support the implementation of the optimal biofouling management strategies in the Baltic Sea.
Ship hulls create a vector for the transportation of harmful non-indigenous species (NIS) all over the world. To sustainably prevent NIS introductions, the joint consideration of environmental, economic and social aspects in the search of optimal biofouling management strategies is needed. This article presents a multi-perspective soft systems analysis of the biofouling management problem, based on an extensive literature review and expert knowledge collected in the Baltic Sea area during 2018-2020. The resulting conceptual influence diagram (CID) reveals the multidimensionality of the problem by visualizing the causal relations between the key elements and demonstrating the entanglement of social, ecological and technical aspects. Seen as a boundary object, we suggest the CID can support open dialogue and better risk communication among stakeholders by providing an illustrative and directly applicable starting point for the discussions. It also provides a basis for quantitative management optimization in the future.
Monika Normant-Saremba
added a research item
The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention) aims to mitigate the introduction risk of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens (HAOP) via ships’ ballast water and sediments. The BWM Convention has set regulations for ships to utilise exceptions and exemptions from ballast water management under specific circumstances. This study evaluated local and regional case studies to provide clarity for situations, where ships could be excepted or exempted from ballast water management without risking recipient locations to new introductions of HAOP. Ships may be excepted from ballast water management if all ballasting operations are conducted in the same location (Regulation A-3.5 of the BWM Convention). The same location case study determined whether the entire Vuosaari harbour (Helsinki, Finland) should be considered as the same location based on salinity and composition of HAOP between the two harbour terminals. The Vuosaari harbour case study revealed mismatching occurrences of HAOP between the harbour terminals, supporting the recommendation that exceptions based on the same location concept should be limited to the smallest feasible areas within a harbour. The other case studies evaluated whether ballast water exemptions could be granted for ships using two existing risk assessment (RA) methods (Joint Harmonised Procedure [JHP] and Same Risk Area [SRA]), consistent with Regulation A-4 of the BWM Convention. The JHP method compares salinity and presence of target species (TS) between donor and recipient ports to indicate the introduction risk (high or low) attributed to transferring unmanaged ballast water. The SRA method uses a biophysical model to determine whether HAOP could naturally disperse between ports, regardless of their transportation in ballast water. The results of the JHP case study for the Baltic Sea and North-East Atlantic Ocean determined that over 97% of shipping routes within these regions resulted in a high-risk indication. The one route assessed in the Gulf of Maine, North America also resulted in a high-risk outcome. The SRA assessment resulted in an overall weak connectivity between all ports assessed within the Gulf of the St. Lawrence, indicating that a SRA-based exemption would not be appropriate for the entire study area. In summary, exceptions and exemptions should not be considered as common alternatives for ballast water management. The availability of recent and detailed species occurrence data was considered the most important factor to conduct a successful and reliable RA. SRA models should include biological factors that influence larval dispersal and recruitment potential (e.g., pelagic larval duration, settlement period) to provide a more realistic estimation of natural dispersal.
Miina Karjalainen
added an update
COMPLETE project will be followed by an extension stage project COMPLETE PLUS “Practical implementation of the COMPLETE project outputs and tools”, receiving co-financing from the Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme.
The project has started in April 2021 and will end in December 2021, and will be implemented by 11 COMPLETE project partners. The project aims to ensure that COMPLETE project outputs will be operationalized to ensure their sustainable use by all relevant actors and stakeholders.
The work of the project can be followed at www.balticcomplete.com
 
Henn Ojaveer
added a research item
The introduction of non-indigenous species (NIS) is a major driver for global change in species biogeography, often associated with significant consequences for recipient ecosystems and services they provide for humans. Despite mandated by several high-level international legislative instruments, comprehensive quantitative evaluation on ecosystem impacts of marine NIS is scarce and lack a robust and data-driven assessment framework. The current study is aiming at fulfilling this gap, through quantitative assessment on the effects of the widespread NIS of the Baltic Sea on multiple ecosystem features and components including direct food-web effects. The outcomes of this study allowed identifying the most impacting widespread NIS, together with defining the processes underlying the most significant changes and outlined major sources of uncertainty. Lack and/or bias in the availability of evidence of impacts was recorded for several (both recent and early) introductions. Realizing a sophisticated, data and information-hungry framework for the evaluation of ecosystem impacts of NIS is not pragmatic for management purposes in the foreseeable future. Instead, simple approaches, such as application of common statistical parameters like absolute effect size, are more likely to result in tangible outcomes. As bearing no unit, effect sizes can be later easily aggregated across taxa, affected ecosystem features or spatial scales. The proposed approach enables performing systematic comparisons on the severity of impacts of different NIS along different study disciplines and ecosystems.
Henn Ojaveer
added 2 research items
Parasites may play several critical functions in marine ecosystems, including possibly influencing introduction success or modifying the roles of non-indigenous species. Based on seasonally replicated sampling, we have investigated parasite communities and infection rates of the non-indigenous round goby Neogobius melanostomus in two localities in the NE Baltic Sea, characterised by different invasion trajectories. The parasite community of the fish was very rich, consisting of at least 24 native parasite species, with moderate mean infection intensity-9.4 parasites per host. In total 78% of fish were infected with parasites, most frequently hosting 1-3 parasite species per fish. The trematode Diplostomum spathaceum had the highest prevalence (46%), while the acanthocephalan Corynosoma strumosum and the trematode Tylodelphys clavata had the highest infection intensity (mean 6.8 and 7.2, respectively). The seasonal dynamics of prevalence were similar in both localities, with the lowest number of infected fish being found immediately after winter with no clear patterns/differences between other seasons. Broadly similar patterns appeared both for species richness and infection intensity. Both localities displayed very similar patterns of occurrence frequency: both had a few parasite species which were specific to one locality and five species that occurred more frequently in one of the two localities. Binomial regression of the probability of infection identified season, total body length, and sex as significant predictors, but not the locality of sampling. The quantitative model revealed that infection intensity was positively linked to total body length and parasite species richness, and was on average 2.7 individuals higher in summer and autumn than in winter and spring.
Aim The introduction of aquatic non‐indigenous species (ANS) has become a major driver for global changes in species biogeography. We examined spatial patterns and temporal trends of ANS detections since 1965 to inform conservation policy and management. Location Global. Methods We assembled an extensive dataset of first records of detection of ANS (1965–2015) across 49 aquatic ecosystems, including the (a) year of first collection, (b) population status and (c) potential pathway(s) of introduction. Data were analysed at global and regional levels to assess patterns of detection rate, richness and transport pathways. Results An annual mean of 43 (±16 SD) primary detections of ANS occurred—one new detection every 8.4 days for 50 years. The global rate of detections was relatively stable during 1965–1995, but increased rapidly after this time, peaking at roughly 66 primary detections per year during 2005–2010 and then declining marginally. Detection rates were variable within and across regions through time. Arthropods, molluscs and fishes were the most frequently reported ANS. Most ANS were likely introduced as stowaways in ships’ ballast water or biofouling, although direct evidence is typically absent. Main conclusions This synthesis highlights the magnitude of recent ANS detections, yet almost certainly represents an underestimate as many ANS go unreported due to limited search effort and diminishing taxonomic expertise. Temporal rates of detection are also confounded by reporting lags, likely contributing to the lower detection rate observed in recent years. There is a critical need to implement standardized, repeated methods across regions and taxa to improve the quality of global‐scale comparisons and sustain core measures over longer time‐scales. It will be fundamental to fill in knowledge gaps given that invasion data representing broad regions of the world's oceans are not yet readily available and to maintain knowledge pipelines for adaptive management.
Monika Normant-Saremba
added a research item
The effectiveness of two artificial habitat collectors, crab condo (HC1) and habitat crate (HC2), providing a refuge for small mobile fauna, was tested along with two commercial baited traps, Chinese box trap (BT1) and Gee’s Minnow trap (BT2) recommended for only single deployments under a harmonized survey of the Baltic and the North-East Atlantic. Our objective was also to determine whether a multi-deployment of baited traps in the growing season increases the diversity and abundance of collected mobile epifauna. Nineteen species of benthic mobile epifauna, including six non-indigenous species (NIS), were collected between May and October 2014 using all tested types of traps in the Port of Gdynia (southern Baltic Sea). Crustaceans, represented by 16 taxa, constituted the group with the highest diversity and abundance. Our study showed that HC1 and HC2 are more effective gear than BT1 and BT2, as both species richness (including NIS) and abundance were higher. Furthermore, the double deployment of BT1 and BT2 increased the diversity and abundance of the captured fauna. The use of artificial habitat collectors as an additional method to the already recommended baited traps for mobile epifauna monitoring in ports should be considered and the number of baited trap deployments should be increased during the growing season.
Miina Karjalainen
added an update
The COMPLETE project has produced two short movies, available now at the project website:
'Short film about Ballast Water Management compliance monitoring' helps to understand which are the most important indicators of Ballast Water Management compliance. Video will be a helpful tool for people who are involved in sampling and analysing ballast water, but for representatives of port authorities and ship owners as it will help to understand the main issues and guidelines mentioned in BWMC.
'Baltic hitchhikers' raises public awareness of spread of invasive species in Baltic Sea via shipping. This documentary focuses on biofouling issues and illustrates how species can travel around when they attach to the hulls of ships and leisure boats.
 
Monika Normant-Saremba
added a research item
The Ballast Water Management Convention adopted at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) allows exemptions from ballast water management requirements. These exemptions may be granted when a risk assessment results in an acceptable low risk scenario. IMO has adopted a guideline describing different risk assessment approaches (G7 Guidelines, 2017). One approach is a species-specific risk assessment in which so called target species (TS) become important. TS are species that meet specific criteria indicating that they may impair or damage the environment, human health, property or resources and they are defined for a specific port, State or biogeographic region. The guidelines continue to describe general TS selection criteria, which include the species relationship with ballast water as a transport vector, their impact type and severeness, evidence of prior introduction(s), and its current distribution. However, the G7 Guidelines lack details how these criteria are to be defined. This paper presents the TS selection criteria developed during the EU-Interreg Baltic Sea Region COMPLETE project (Completing Management Options in the Baltic Sea Region to Reduce Risk of Invasive Species Introduction by Shipping), including explanations on what ballast water relationship means, which impact threshold is eligible to identify a TS, as well as why prior introductions and the current species distribution are relevant in that context. It was concluded that TS lists need to be regularly reviewed and that the described TS selection criteria may be also adopted elsewhere when planning species-specific risk assessments for exemptions from ballast water management requirements.
Maiju Lehtiniemi
added 2 research items
Incorporating ecosystem changes from non-indigenous species (NIS) is an important task of maritime spatial planning. Maritime spatial planning requires a framework that emphasises ecological functioning in a state of dynamic change, including changes to ecosystem services from functions introduced by new NIS. Adaptable modelling toolsets should be developed that can readily incorporate knowledge of new NIS. In the Baltic Sea, recent NIS examples are the North American mud crab Rhithropanopeus harrisii and the Ponto-Caspian round goby Neogobius melanostomus. We performed environmental niche modelling that predicted N. melanostomus will spread across large areas of the Baltic Sea coast while R. harrisii will be limited to regions with high temperature and low salinity conditions. We then performed a meta-analysis on literature showing effects in the Baltic Sea from these NIS and calculated the standardised effect-sizes on relevant ecosystem services. Half the impacts identified for N. melanostomus were considered to increase ecosystem service outcomes, while all R. harrisii impacts caused apparent decreases. Effect coefficients were incorporated into an online impact assessment tool developed by the Estonian Marine Institute. Users with or without science training can use the portal to estimate areas impacted and changes to natural assets (km²) caused by these NIS and cumulative effects from other pressure-types. Impact estimates are based on best available knowledge from manipulative and correlative experiments and thus form a link between science and management. Dynamic modelling techniques informed from varied ecological and methodological perspectives will effectively advise spatial planners about rapid maritime changes and mitigation actions to reduce NIS impacts especially in the focus areas.
The present study aimed to develop monitoring methods for shallow water sessile and mobile epifauna with the main focus on enhancing the chance of early detection for new non-indigenous species (NIS) invasions. The field sampling was conducted between June and September in 2012, in the Archipelago Sea (Finland). The tested monitoring methods included baited traps that capture organisms and habitat collectors that provide habitat and refuges for organisms, as well as fouling plates. Catch efficiency of a trap/collector was defined as the number of NIS and all species caught, including their abundances. The American collector with oyster shells (habitat collector) caught the highest number of NIS, and their use is recommended in all places, where oyster shells are easily accessible. Sampling of all habitats of interest between 1 and 2 m depth is recommended with at least three habitat collectors per site.
Monika Normant-Saremba
added a research item
The paper reports on the first record of Sinelobus vanhaareni, a non-native tanaid, in the Polish coastal waters (Gulf of Gdansk, southern Baltic Sea). The species was found in the port of Gdynia in 2014, while in 2015-2017 it already colonized the western part of the Gulf of Gdansk, inhabiting mainly hard substrates, including both natural (e.g. boulders) and anthropogenic ones (e.g. vertical concrete piles or walls of offshore structures and breakwaters, horizontal PVC plates and oyster shells used as filling in habitat collectors). During the survey period, S. vanhaareni was found in different seasons of the year (from winter and early spring to autumn), which, combined with the presence of ovigerous females as well as high abundance (up to tens of thousands of individuals per square meter), allows us to assume that the species has already established a population in the Gulf of Gdansk. © 2019 Faculty of Oceanography and Geography, University of Gdańsk, Poland 2019.
Miina Karjalainen
added an update
The EU project COMPLETE gained flagship project status from the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) on 26th of September 2018. This demonstrates the high political relevance of ships’ ballast water and hull fouling management to reduce the risk of introduction of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens.
The project’s aim to minimize this risk by the development of user-friendly tools and management options is recognized as essential. The flagship status supports conveying the relevant results and recommendations of the COMPLETE project to the policy level and contributes to ensuring that the project results are used in practice.
Aim to minimize the introduction of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens
The COMPLETE project develops consistent and adaptive management options for the Baltic Sea Region addressing both major vectors for invasive species introductions: ballast water and biofouling. The project is tackling several gaps in current knowledge and proposing both operational frameworks and user-friendly tools for the management of these two vectors. The COMPLETE project aims at developing a roadmap for a regionally harmonized biofouling management strategy by involving all relevant stakeholders in all phases of this process.
Co-operation between all Baltic Sea Region countries
COMPLETE partners from Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden are working together with 23 associated organizations from all Baltic Sea states. These organizations include research organizations, maritime and environmental ministries, their agencies, relevant private companies (e.g. shipping companies, shipowners, port authorities) and NGOs.
Project web page: www.balticcomplete.com
Project can also be followed in twitter: https://twitter.com/balticcomplete
 
Miina Karjalainen
added an update
The COMPLETE project web page has now been opened. You can find more information of the project activities at www.balticcomplete.com.
You can also follow the project in twitter with #BalticCOMPLETE or by following the project twitter feed @BalticComplete.
 
Miina Karjalainen
added a project goal
COMPLETE project and its extension stage, COMPLETE PLUS, target shipping's harmful hitchhikers: invasive species.
Address both major pathways of introductions via ships: ballast water and biofouling.
Expected results: knowledge, strategies, and tools for environmentally friendly shipping.
Funding: Interreg Baltic Sea Region