Applications of ecological knowledge in managing o.. (OILRISK)
Applications of ecological knowledge in managing oil spill risk
Start date: Nov 30, 2009,
End date: Oct 31, 2012
All EU countries benefit from increased international commerce because trade and consumption generate welfare. The EU solidly supports free trade, and maritime traffic is the most efficient way to transport goods among countries. However, heavy maritime traffic and oil transportation, both rapidly expanding in the Gulf of Finland and in the Baltic Sea, cause a significant environmental risk. Should a large scale oil accident occur in the area, there would not be enough time nor resources to safeguard all important and vulnerable nature areas. Currently, negative environmental externalities caused by oil tanker traffic are mostly considered on the national basis. Efforts to improve maritime safety are also segmented by administrational boundaries reducing the potential benefits from the current oil spill management strategies. There is a strong demand for international co-operation and joint approaches in oil spill risk management to maintain the natural environment in the Baltic Sea. OILRISK has a comprehensive approach to oil spill risk issues and develops operational tools that will be used in oil spill contingency planning. The main objective is to develop joint approaches to minimize the negative impacts of future oil accidents on the nature, to strengthen the co-operation in oil spill risk management and to raise the stakeholders´ awareness on the effects of oil spills and on the various actions that can be taken in order to minimize the effects. The work packages are strongly linked to each other: WP 2 assesses the vulnerability and sensitivity of nature values to oil spills in terms of risk and produces preliminary estimates of the costs related to nature values damaged by oil spills, WP 3 concentrates on the effective means in offshore oil combating and develops a WEB based tool to be utilized in oil spill risk management. WP 4 creates a map application to be used in planning the operational oil combating and clean-up activities onshore to minimize the effects of oil spills on the nature values. WP 1 enables the successful implementation and broad publicity of the project in the target groups and the general public. Although the project is focused in the Gulf of Finland and the Archipelago Sea, the best practices and solutions can be adapted internationally. Adaptation of these practices in the international forum is essential as all the sea areas are interlinked by geography, economy, legislation and conventions, and by seafaring. The project also aims to identify the need for investments to protect the vulnerable nature. Conclusions of these activities will contribute to Common Marine Policy. The project partnership is composed of both scientists and authorities and has strong expertise in oil spill related research and management both nationally and internationally. Achievements: OILRISK has developed practical tools tailored for oil combating authorities. Information about the location of sensitive nature values and a methodology for ranking these ecological values has been created in the project. This information is included in the operational decision making systems both in Finland and in Estonia to be used in oil combating activities as well as for planning the cleanup operations. The project has also given new insight into the actual costs of oil spills. Preliminary estimates of the losses in property values or losses related to fisheries have been provided, which help in defining the final price of spilled oil. This is one way to increase the awareness of stakeholders on oil spill consequences and the various actions that can be taken in order to minimize them.
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