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Research projects

Photo: Laura Uusitalo

Here we summarize some of the projects FEM has been involved in during the years.

Ongoing research projects

30MILES – Small port every 30 miles apart: development of services for lively water tourism in the Eastern Gulf of Finland (2015-2018)



The 30MILES project aims at improving the overall service level and safety in small ports and waterfront. At the moment, the small ports are acting alone, and developing a competitive network of small ports is seen as a precondition for lively and sustainable water tourism in the Eastern Gulf of Finland and in increasing the overall attractiveness of the region. Joint development of sustainable port services and efficient communication and marketing activities are applied in order to support the local economies and attract new businesses and visitors.

Small ports play a vital economic role regionally. However, port activities also form a major source of pollution in the often sensitive coastal habitats and ecosystems: the environmental impacts of small ports including i.e. air and water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and garbage/ port waste. In turn, water tourism is highly dependent on recreational ecosystem services. Therefore, sustainable development of port activities is considered important. Research on sustainable small ports has remained limited and new ways to adopt proactive approach to port sustainability need to be designed. Within the 30MILES project, FEM group will utilize their modelling knowledge to improve the sustainable development of marinas and small ports. A Bayesian decision model will be developed for making sustainable development plans. Here sustainability is seen as a three-dimensional issue, covering the aspects of environmental impacts of ports, sustainable business development and accessibility and safety of ports. Sustainability can be reached in the equilibrium of these factors and the alternative stabile states are searched with the help of modelling. Data is collected among different stakeholder groups with the use of on-line questionnaires, individual interviews, and focus group interviews.

As a result of the project, the service level and safety of 11 small ports will be improved. The network of small ports every 30 miles apart in the Eastern Gulf of Finland will support sustainable regional development. A new tool based on Bayesian modelling will be developed for assessing the environmental sustainability of the ports and contribute to holistic sustainability of environment, safety, mobility, tourism, and businesses in the small ports and their respective regions.

30MILES is coordinated by the Kotka Maritime Research Centre. In addition to University of Helsinki, the other Finnish partners are Kymenlaakso University of Applied Science, Cursor Ltd and Posintra Ltd. The partners in Estonia are Ida-Viru Enterprise Centre, Reconstruction and Operation of Eisma Port, Viimsi municipality, Estonian Maritime Museum, Narva Department for City Development and Economy and Narva-Jõesuu municipality.Associate partners are Lääne-Viru County Goverment from Estonian and Finnish Sailing and Boating Federation from Finland.

30MILES is funded by the Interreg Central Baltic 2014-2020 Programme and Regional Council of Southwest Finland. The project is also funded partially by the participating organizations in Finland and Estonia.

The 30MILES project web page





GOHERR – Integrated governance of Baltic herring and salmon stocks involving stakeholders (2015-2018)



Baltic salmon and herring provide a rich source of Omega3 fatty acids and vitamin D for humans. The value of these fishes as a source of food is, however, low due to their high concentration of dioxin and dioxin-like PCBs. This is reflected in consumer demand for fish products and affects management decisions, fishing, the fish stocks and the whole Baltic Sea ecosystem. GOHERR analyses the potential of ecosystem-based management in decreasing the dioxin content in salmon and herring while ensuring the sustainable use of the resources. A decrease in dioxin concentration can restore the significance of salmon and herring as healthy local source of food, make the prerequisites for fishing livelihood more stable, and improve the image of the whole Baltic Sea.

The ecosystem approach requires holistic thinking and comprehensive representations of the ecosystem, including social components. Adaptive management and integrated management are seen as tools for responding to the challenges of the ecosystem approach. The aim of GOHERR is to develop an integrated governance framework involving stakeholders, and a related decision support tool for the management of Baltic herring and salmon stocks. The framework combines the health of the Baltic Sea with the health of humans, and the dynamics of the ecosystem with human values and behaviour. It will be analysed 1) what are the socio-cultural and political prerequisites for successful integrated fisheries governance, and what kind of institutional, organisational, structural and attitudinal flexibility is needed, 2) if and how integrated fisheries governance can benefit the sector based management of Baltic herring and salmon, the stakeholders, and eventually consumers in terms of reduced dioxin content in fish, and 3) how integrated governance at the regional level can be linked to governance at the national and international levels.

The project combines social scientific, biological and medical research by using Bayesian decision analysis, value of control (VOC) analysis and value of information (VOI) analysis. The project is expected to enhance the understanding of integrated governance. It will suggest ways for bridging policy sectors and stakeholder perspectives in ecosystem-based governance. Finally, the project will produce new knowledge related to the interaction between Baltic salmon and herring stocks and the impact of this on dioxin concentration, as well as to the socio-cultural values of these fish resources.

The other partners of GOHERR are University of Aalborg, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, National Institute for Health and Welfare, and the University of Oulu. The project is funded by the Baltic Sea Research and Development Programme BONUS (2015-2017).

The GOHERR project web page

The GOHERR blog





MINOUW – Science, Technology, and Society Initiative to minimize Unwanted Catches in European Fisheries (2015-2019)

MINOUW project (Horizon 2020 project) is focusing on the solving of the discard problem in EU fisheries. The complexity of the problem of banning discards and bringing all unwanted catches to land makes it necessary to follow a multi-actor approach, whereby scientists, fisheries technologists, fish producers and NGOs work collaboratively to provide the scientific and technical basis to achieve the gradual elimination of discards in European marine fisheries. The project’s overall objective is to minimise unwanted catches by incentivising the adoption of fishing technologies and practices that reduce pre-harvest mortality and post-harvest discards, while avoiding damage to sensitive marine species and habitats.

The general approach is based on technical/technological and socioeconomic solutions on a case-by-case analysis of the main types of European fisheries. The project will analyze existing and potential discard-mitigating innovative technologies in workshop roundtables with participation of fishers, technologists and scientists. The technologies selected will be tested in field trials to experimentally assess their efficiency: among other, improved precatch identification with observational technologies and pre-harvest loss reduction by gear modification and switching to light impact gear. The results will be analyzed in terms of technological advances, marketability and cost-benefit analysis. Other actions included in the project are social and economic instruments to incentivise selective fishing and discourage discarding practices, such as ecolabelling, fisheries certification and promoting awareness among industry and consumers, and mathematical modelling of ecosystem effects of unwanted catches reduction.





CEARCTIC – Joint Center of Excellence for Arctic Shipping and Operations (2013-2018)

The motivation for this project arises from the rapid developments of Arctic Oil and Gas explorations, where we have to ensure safe operations under extreme conditions in a sensitive environment. The current regulations for the design of ice-going ships fail to predict the actual safety level of a ship and the required safety level both for ships and installations is unknown. Consequently, ships transiting on ice-infested waters are not designed according to physical measures, i.e. accurate limit states under ice loading, but according to economic measures and empirical design measures.

Since empirical measures are not available and the tendency to minimize expenditure can lead to severe environmental catastrophes, risk-based design methodologies using first principal methods are required in order to ensure safe operations and transport of the natural resources within and out of the Arctic Sea.

The scope of this project is the holistic treatment and identification of the ship design relevant features to ensure safe arctic operations and transport. Holistic risk analysis includes typically: definition of hazard scenarios, their occurrence probability and consequences. For arctic operations, the definition of all these three elements is challenging. The ground breaking novelty in this holistic risk-based approach is its focus on the design relevant actions occurring during the entire lifecycle of the ship or installation in question, and not only on the initial service load conditions followed by a selection of required safety oriented assessments based on standard regulations.

The other partners include Aalto University (project coordinator), Norwegian University of Science and Technology and Memorial University of Newfoundland.

The project receives funding from the Lloyd's Register Foundation (LRF).

CEARCTIC web page





MareFrame – Co-creating Ecosystem based Fisheries Management Solutions (2014-2017)

The society and fisheries stakeholders have solid interest in sustainable use of marine resources. The vision of MareFrame is to significantly increase the use of ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management (EAFM) when providing advice relating to European fish stocks. Adaptation of EAFM will support implementation the new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and the Habitats Directive (HD). In the past years many ecosystem models have been developed, enormous amount of data has been collected and analyzed, and a great deal of scientific knowledge has been created. Yet very little of this has been translated into the actual advice provided for the management of fisheries.

The overall objective of MareFrame is to remove the barriers preventing more widespread use of EAFM through development of new technologies, extension of ecosystem models and assessment methods, and development of a decision support framework that can highlight alternatives and trade-offs. Emphasis is put on close integration and co-creation with stakeholders in all development phases, to ensure that ownership is with them, and to increase acceptance of the project outcomes. The benefits will include efficient and effective decision-making and implementation leading to sustainable fishery industry performance in terms of ecological, social and economic aspects.

Decision making relating to EAFM is complex due to the multiple policies that are involved, the differences in concerns and priorities among stakeholders, and the need to integrate multidisciplinary information having inherent uncertainties. Effective planning and decision making in such a context can be systematically aided by decision support tools, which allow for interactive analysis of focal problems as well as the test of alternative scenarios through simulation. In relation to an EAFM, decision support can in particular help managers to take account of numerous policy objectives and stakeholder concerns and to be knowledgeable about trade-offs between the use of many ecosystem services given the natural constraints of the system in question. The general decision support approach will be the with Bayesian belief nets, which represent a powerful technique for reasoning under uncertainty, supported by multi-criteria analysis (MCA) in some of the case studies.

The case studies considered include Baltic Sea, North Sea, Northern & Western Waters (Icelandic Waters), Northern Waters (West of Scotland), South-Western Waters (Gulf of Gadiz), Mediterranean (Strait of Sicily), Black Sea and Chatham Rise in New Zealand. They enfold a wide range of latitudes and ecosystem types, biological complexity and ecological knowledge. The case studies also cover a large array of management practices, issues and priorities.

In MareFrame there are 28 project partners in 14 countries. The project receives funding from the European Union´s Seventh Framework Programme.

MareFrame web page





Past research projects

Photo: Laura Uusitalo

IRIS – - Improving risk assessment of invasive alien species and cost-efficiency analysis of ballast water treatment methods (Seed money project)

Our idea for a project where novel tools will be developed to support the ratification of the Ballast Water Management Convention in the Baltic Sea, was granted a preparation funding of 45 000 € by the EUSBSR Seed Money Facility. Seed money is EU funding to prepare projects that contribute to one of the priority areas or horizontal actions of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. During the IRIS seed money, a detailed project plan will be drafted and further developed into an application to some of the EU funding sources.

FEM is the lead partner of the seed money project. The other partners are Kotka Maritime Research Centre (Finland), Chalmers University of Technology, Dept of Shipping and Marine Technology (Sweden) and Environmental Development Association (Latvia). Finnish Environment Institute SYKE is actively co-operating as an associated partner and a member of the upcoming main project consortium.





TOPCONS – Transboundary tools for spatial planning and conservation of the Gulf of Finland (2012–2014)



TOPCONS is a Finnish-Russian co-operation project that will develop innovative spatial tools for the regional planning and long-term invocation of the sea areas. These will help the society when striving for the sustainable consolidation of human activities and the marine nature values. The objective of the project is to create methodology and tools to aid in forecasting and mapping the locations of the most diverse and sensitive under-water landscapes, and in the light of this knowledge, to execute planning of the ecosystem-based management.


The project utilizes existing knowledge on the geology, biology and human pressures in the Eastern Gulf of Finland. The datasets will be combined in the GIS-environment. Chosen experimental plots in the field will be mapped and examined thoroughly and the possible correlations between the geological and biological diversity studied. One of the central research questions is, if the location of biologically diverse areas could be predicted based on the observations on the prevailing geological and physical conditions. The likely distribution of the fish nursery areas in relation to the underwater landscapes, as well as the impact of certain human pressures on these are of interest as well. One of the objectives is to produce harmonized and comparable, trans-disciplinary data for the joint use of both Finnish and Russian researchers from the whole area of the Eastern Gulf of Finland.


TOPCONS produces knowledge that can be directly utilized for the planning of sustainable use and the conservation of the seas. FEM-group will analyze probabilistically the possible effects of certain human pressures on the underwater habitats and communities. Based on the analyses, we will start developing a probabilistic risk and decision analysis model that will be programmed to communicate in interaction with the spatial data-layers in the GIS environment. During this project, the first version of the spatial planning tool, to be tested by the potential end-users, e.g. decision-makers, designers and researchers, will be created. In the future, this approach can be expanded to cover wider sea areas, by including data on local conditions.


TOPCONS is co-ordinated by the Finnish Kotka Maritime Research Centre. Other Finnish partners (in addition to FEM-group) are Finnish Environment Institute, Geological Survey of Finland, Metsähallitus and Finnish Game and Fisheries Research. The partners in Russia are A.P. Karpinsky Russian Geological Research Institute, Russian Academy of Science and Russian State Hydrometeorological University.


The budget of this three-year-project is 1,7 million eur and it is financed by the European Neighbourhood and Partnership program (ENPI CBC) and the participating organizations in Finland and in Russia.





ECOKNOWS – Effective use of ecosystem and biological knowledge in fisheries (September 2010-2014)

The general aim of ECOKNOWS is to improve the use of biological knowledge in fisheries science and management. The lack of appropriate calculus methods and fear of statistical overparameterisation has limited biological reality in fisheries models. We solve this technical estimation problem by using up-to-date methodology supporting more effective use of data. The models will include important knowledge about biological processes and the applied statistical inference methods allow to integrate and update this knowledge in stock assessment. The developed methodology will be of fundamental importance, especially for the implementation of the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management.


ECOKNOWS is funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union.





MULTIDOM – Multidisciplinary assessment of the role of DOM in the environmental status of the Baltic Sea (2011-2014)

Organic matter load to the Baltic Sea has been identified as the second greatest environmental pressure both in the Bothnian Bay and in the Gulf of Finland by the HELCOM Holistic Assessment. In this project, a sound and fully integrated assessment of the vulnerability of the Baltic Sea ecosystem to organic inputs in its northern sub-basins is created. Furthermore, the feasibility of management, and ultimately mitigation strategies, for the control of dissolved organic matter (DOM) loading from various major land use types is evaluated. The methods will include the assessment of the drivers and pressures in the catchment areas, the detailed evaluation of effects by organic inputs on the various ecosystem levels and a formal analysis of the use of controlling instruments.

There are three main activities and disciplines in the project: (i) DOM loading from soil, (ii) DOM loads in rivers and into Baltic Sea, and (iii) the environmental history. The FEM group will participate in the sub-task dealing with the DOM loads in rivers and in the Baltic Sea. In this activity, hierarchical Bayesian models are utilized in modelling the water quality in rivers providing DOM input to the Gulf of Bothnia, and probabilistic models to describe the possible changes in the Gulf of Bothnia ecosystem are created.

The project will be carried out in co-operation with Helsinki University Centre for Environment HENVI, Finnish Environment Institute, and MTT Agrifood Research Finland.

MULTIDOM web page





ECOSEAL: Baltic seals – balancing between sustainable ecosystem management and fisheries (2012–2013)


Today, the conservation and management of the Baltic seal populations is balancing between a favourable conservation status and an acceptable level of losses to coastal fisheries. Sustainable management of the seal populations requires broader and updated knowledge to be used in conservation as well as in mitigating the increased socio-economic conflict between seals and fisheries. The main research objectives of the project are: 1) to gain information on how incidental removal with other mortality factors impacts seal populations, 2) to gain knowledge on foraging patterns and the role of seals in the Baltic Sea ecosystem, and 3) to create risk analysis models to be used as tools in sustainable management of seals. The work of FEM group in ECOSEAL project concentrates on the third objective.

The other ECOSEAL partners are Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute (FGFRI, lead partner), Department of Biological Sciences/University of Helsinki, Department of Aquatic Resources/Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), and Estonian Marine Institute/University of Tartu.

ECOSEAL is financed from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and it implements the Central Baltic INTERREG IVA Programme, Archipelago and Islands Sub-programme. The co-financers of the project are Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for Southwest Finland, Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute, University of Helsinki, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and University of Tartu.





MIMIC – Minimizing risks of maritime oil transport by holistic safety strategies (2011-2013)


MIMIC project studies, from the multidisciplinary perspective, the risks related to the maritime oil transport in the Baltic Sea, especially in the Gulf of Finland. The main task of FEM group in this project is to develop an integrative risk and decision analysis model, based on the Bayesian networks. This meta-model will gather information and forecasts concerning the maritime traffic, oil transport, oil combating and realized as well as potentially upcoming oil accidents, not forgetting their likely environmental consequences. We will utilize statistics, models and expert interviews that are partly produced in the earlier projects of the multidisciplinary MIMIC project consortium and partly within this project. In the end, analysis of safety management policy produced during the project, will be linked to the risk assessment model. This will allow us to probabilistically calculate the action combinations that would be most cost-effective and robust to the prevailing uncertainty in the system, what comes to the minimization of risks against the environment and the players of different levels. The model will also give answers on how different risk approaches are affecting the ranking order of the management actions. For future planning of the research, the model will produce useful information on the information value of different variables, thus telling us where the additional knowledge would most increase the reliability of the analysis.

In addition to the decision support modeling, FEM is responsible on a task, where the social risk management system related to oil spills is compared to the procedures of nuclear power risk management and to the fisheries management. Organizations, people, practices and information flows in relation to risk management in each of the three sectors will be charted through a literature review and interviews, and analyzed. The idea is to pick up such best practices and elements from the information processing in fisheries management and nuclear power risk management, which seem to be appropriate to the safety problems of maritime activities. The aim is to propose machinery comprised of organizations, activities and information flows, to help manage the risk of oil accidents and to prevent the accidents. The main activity of such a risk management machinery would be to define information needs, to collect, analyze and review the information, to define requirements for economic, technical and intellectual resources to prevent an oil accident – and this way to provide reliable information to the decision making. The potential outcome of is recommendations of improved ways for risk management in terms of information sharing and risk communication.

The other MIMIC partners are Kotka Maritime Research Association, University of Turku / Centre for Maritime Studies, Kymenlaakso University of Applied Sciences, Aalto University, Finnish Environment Institute, Tallinn University of Technology, University of Tartu / Estonian Marine Institute, and Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute.

MIMIC is financed from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and it implements the Central Baltic INTERREG IV A Programme. Co-financers are Kotka-Hamina Regional Development Company Cursor, Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment of Southwest Finland, City of Kotka, Kymenlaakso University of Applied Sciences, Finnish Environment Institute, Tallinn University of Technology, University of Tartu, and Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute.





OILRISK - Applications of ecological knowledge in oil spill risk management (2009-2012)


The main objective of OILRISK is to minimize the negative impacts of future oil spills that may lead to an environmental disaster in the Gulf of Finland or the Archipelago Sea. More specifically, the project will:

  • Identify the most vulnerable populations in the project area,
  • Develop a comprehensive geospatial data and ecological knowledge-based map application that can used in planning the operational oil combatting and clean-up activities onshore, and
  • Develop a web-based tool for oil pollution related risk management.

The OILRISK partners are Kotka Maritime Research Association, Fisheries and Environmental Management Group (University of Helsinki), Estonian Marine Institute (University of Tartu), Southeast Finland Regional Environment Centre, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), and Helsinki University of Technology (TKK).

OILRISK is financed from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and it implements the Central Baltic INTERREG IV A Programme, Southern Finland - Estonia Sub-programme. Co-financers are Southwest Finland Regional Environment Centre, City of Kotka, City of Porvoo, Regional Council of Päijät-Häme, University of Tartu and the Protection Fund for the Archipelago Sea (Centrum Balticum Foundation).

OILRISK web page.





PROBAPS - Protection of the Baltic Sea: Benefits, costs and policy instruments (2009-2012)

The main purpose of PROBABS is to develop a simulation model that can be used in a cost-benefit analysis on combating eutrophication in the Baltic Sea. Moreover, risks related to maritime transportation will be investigated. Alternative policy scenarios to improve the state of the Baltic Sea will be evaluated to be compared with the case of in-action.

The research project is carried out in international collaboration within the frame of BalticSTERN, "Baltic Systems Tools for Ecological-economic evaluation: a Research Network".

FEM responsibility in PROBAPS is making a combined risk analysis (eutrophication and oil spills) with costs and benefits in the Gulf of Finland.

The other partners include MTT Agrifood Research Finland (project coordinator in Finland) and Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE).

PROBAPS receives funding from the Finnish Advisory Board for Sectoral Research.

PROPABS web page.





IBAM - Integrated Bayesian risk analysis of ecosystem management in the Gulf of Finland (2009-2011)

The main objective of IBAM is to produce an integrative environmental decision model for the Gulf of Finland. The model will be used to rank decision options in an interdisciplinary and multiobjective context. It incorporates major scientific information in probabilistic terms and combines the risk management of four themes: fisheries, eutrophication, oil spills and climate change. Project will enable more effective learning in science by providing tools where new information can be integrated to old by mathematics.

In addition to doing new research, IBAM will integrate results and utilize methodology from several previous projects such as OILECO, EVAGULF, PRONE, POORFISH, EVAHER, and JAKFISH.

IBAM is funded by the BONUS+ Call within the framework of the BONUS-169 Joint Baltic Sea Research Programme.

Research institutes participating in IBAM include

IBAM web page.





JAKFISH - Judgement And Knowledge in Fisheries Involving StakeHolders (2008-2011)

Project home pages.

The objectives of JAKFISH are: 1) To examine and develop the institutions, practices and tools that allow complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity to be dealt with effectively within participatory decision-making processes. 2) To examine how scientific information is used and what types of roles scientists play in the formulation of policies. 3) To study how the current scientific processes take into account the multi-objective nature of fisheries management. 4) To synthesise the obtained views and to redefine the institutional role of science in EU polices to improve the overall governance in CFP.

JAKFISH will develop institutions, practices and tools for dealing with scientific support to policy under high uncertainty. The project will focus on European marine governance, particularly on fish harvesting.





SAFGOF - Evaluation of the traffic increase in the Gulf of Finland during the years 2007-2015 and the effect of the increase on the environment and traffic chain activities (2008-2010)

Kotka Maritime Research Centre (KMRC) has started a new three year project SAFGOF - Evaluation of the traffic increase in the Gulf of Finland during the years 2007-2015 and the effect of the increase on the environment and traffic chain activities. The total project budget is 2,2 milloin euros. The project is partly funded by the European Union.

The project is coordinated by KMRC. The various tasks of the project are lead by the leading scientists of KMRC: Professor Sakari Kuikka (University of Helsinki), Research Director Jorma Rytkönen (Kymenlaakso University of Applied Sciences), Professor Ulla Tapaninen (University of Turku) and Professor Pentti Kujala (Helsinki University of Technology).

Sea traffic in the Gulf of Finland has increased remarkably during the last years and it is expected to increase further during the coming years. It is expected that the increase will also considerably improve the economics in South-East Finland, which will also improve the economic income of the people living in the area.

Unfortunately the growing sea traffic will also increase the environmental risks through direct environmental effects and through rising accident risks. The increase of sea traffic can also affect the general security by means of criminal activities.

The SAFGOF-project aims to study in a scientific manner, how the traffic patterns are estimated to change in the Gulf of Finland by the year 2015. Based on these estimates the effects on risk levels for ship collisions and grounding will be studied. Once the traffic pattern estimates have been evaluated, the environmental effects of traffic can also be studied.

The SAFGOF-project will utilise as input, the results obtained during the years 2006 and 2007 in the projects MS GOF –Maritime Safety in the Gulf of Finland- and TRANSGOF –Transport and Logistics in the GOF. In addition the results of the OILECO project will be utilised as a basis in the SAFGOF-project. OILECO has included studies related to analysis of the sea nature under oil pollution and how to mimimise the undesired effects to nature in the Gulf of Finland after an oil spill.

SAFGOF home page

EVAHER - Risk of herring consumption (dioxine) for human health (2006-2009)

Study plan (pdf)

Aims of the EVAHER project are: 1) to evaluate the uncertainty related to threshold values of dioxin, 2) to develop risk analysis models to estimate current risks caused by herring consumption, 3) to evaluate the relative impacts of alternative ways to manage the health risk caused by herring consumption by applying risk management decision models, and 4) to educate one PhD candidate to Bayesian analysis and to the modeling of links between ecosystem health and human health.

The main part of the study is carried out in the University of Helsinki by a PhD candidate. The project co-operates with the following institutes that contribute data sets and substance knowledge required in five articles: Finnish Environmental Institute, Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute, and National Publich Health Institute.





PRONE - Precautionary risk methodology for fisheries (2006-2008)

PRONE is a EU 6th framework programme project which studies how risk analysis theories can be adapted to European fisheries management. Although risk assessment methods have been developed for the biological impact on fish stocks resulting from management decisions, a systematic approach that includes economic and social risks is missing in European fisheries management. To date there is no formal mechanism for dealing with uncertainty in fish stock assessment and the risk which management decisions based upon it represents in both economical and social terms. The major achievement of the project will therefore be to provide an integrated framework within which biological uncertainty and the ability to implement management actions can be analyzed and facilitate communication between specialists in the fields of biology, economists and managers. It will therefore underpin the formulation and implementation of the Communities' common fisheries policy (CFP) and ensure the efficient utilization of resources. The project will also build upon and extend several current and past EC projects (PROMOS, MATES and MATACS, EFIMAS, COMMIT).

The components to be incorporated include risk identification and probabilistic evaluations of the potential consequences of alternative management actions (risk assessment), the formulation of a variety of tools to manage the risks (risk management), and the development of mechanisms to ensure that the outputs of risk assessment and the risk management options available are adequately understood by stakeholders (risk communication).


FIG. The elements of risk management framework. The feedback and use of risk related information are important processes which should reflect to risk assessment methodology.


In PRONE, Risk will be analyzed both from the point of view of management (the possibility to implement the knowledge) and from the point of view of advice (the possibility to understand the given scientific advice). The project aims to take advantage of developments in a variety of fields, both theoretical and applied, and test their applicability to fisheries management, ensuring high quality scientific methodology and to improve the understandability of the methods. Four case studies will be used to illustrate and test the methodology:

  • North Sea, Total Allowable Catch (TAC)
  • Greece, no TAC
  • Faroes, Individual Transferable Effort (ITE)
  • Iceland, Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQ)

PRONE is co-ordinated by the University of Helsinki (Professor Sakari Kuikka is a project coordinator) and the main tasks of FEM group in the project are

  • Devoloping a probalistic stock assessment model and to compare the uncertainty estimates of a model where all uncertain parameters have a probability distribution to a ICES standard methodology
  • Evaluation of probabilistic control tools in fisheries management
  • Reviewing of economic risk analysis and multi-species economics
  • Analysing the international risk management and the major risks threatening long-lasting fisheries agreements

Project partners are:





POORFISH - Probabilistic assessment, management, and advice model for fisheries management in the case of poor data availability (2005-2008)

POORFISH is a EU 6th Framework Programme project which aims to create an advisory system (assessment, advice, and/or management) approach based on methods able to deal with data poor systems (utilizing both expert knowledge and published information in addition to existing data sets), and to create a user friendly way to use assessment methods.

POORFISH's 8 case studies range from herring trawling to deep sea and artisanal fisheries and from the Baltic Sea to West Africa. FEM group is responsible for the methodological work, which aims at

  • Effective use of published information
  • Use of data of related stocks and even species
  • To get case study specific information from experts
  • Develop a probabilistic stock assessment model that accounts explicitly for uncertainties. Methodology developed in EFIMAS and COMMIT projects (EU STREP projects) will be utilized.




OILECO - Integrating ecological values in the decision making process on oil spill combating in the Gulf of Finland (2005-2007)

OILECO home page

OILECO final report

OILECO publicity list (in Finnish)

In the framework of OILECO project the ecological values of the Finnish and Estonian parts of the Gulf of Finland will be plotted, their significance evaluated and supportive information produced to facilitate operational decision making in order to protect the most valuable populations and habitats in case of an oil spill. The major contents of the project are: 1) vulnerability of populations to oil compounds, 2) uniqueness of populations (genetic specification of the population to the given environment), and 3) recovery potential of populations. In addition, 4) probability of an oil accident is fundamental for the decision making regarding investments aimed at decreasing potential ecosystem tribulations. In the decisions after the accident, 5) ability to protect populations with the available combating technology is a key element.

OILECO is managed by the University of Helsinki, Palmenia Centre for Continuing Education, Kotka Unit and implemented in co-operation with Prof. Sakari Kuikka from the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and the University of Tartu, Estonian Marine Institute.

The project is financed from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and implements the Interreg IIIA Southern Finland and Estonia programme (www.interreg-finest.net). Co-financers are South-East Finland Regional Environment Centre, Kotka town and University of Tartu, Estonian Marine Institute. Project budget is 804 724 €.





EVAGULF - Protection of aquatic communities in the Gulf of Finland: risk-based policymaking (2006-2007)

EVAGULF home page

EVAGULF final report

EVAGULF is a Finnish-Estonian joint project that aims for clarifying the general view on eutrophication and its ramifications in the Gulf of Finland as well as for evaluating effects of protective actions already done and the risks connected to present state of the ecosystem. Main object of the project is to construct a decision-analysis tool to ease the work of decision-makers. Existing follow-up databases, observations in literature and expert knowledge will be integrated and analysed by using modern risk assessment methodology. Bayesian computational methods enable combining the data of a different form as well as concrete elucidation of benefits and risks concerned with alternative decisions. Thus, policymakers are required only to assess the magnitude and type of risks they are willing to take.

Results of EVAGULF enable sorting out the actors behind the shifts in occurrence of different species: e.g. which populations can be managed only by the Finnish conservation actions and in which cases gaining on the objectives requires international co-operation. The knowledge will enable more cost-effective use of the available financial resources. Joint analysing tools, for one, will promote the development of congruent view and conservation policy among Finland and Estonia.

EVAGULF is carried out as a part of the INTERREG III A Southern Finland and Estonia –programme and it is financed mainly from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Co-financers are South-East Finland Regional Environment Centre and Estonian Marine Institute, subject to University of Tartu. Project started in september 2006 and will continue to the end of 2007. It is a preliminary period aiming to a larger proposal where the object is to get involved as many nations and international actors as possible from the Baltic area.

The project is managed by University of Helsinki, Department of Bio- and Environmental Sciences, Kotka unit. Estonian partner is University of Tartu, Estonian Marine Institute. Other partners involved are Finnish Environment Institute, Finnish Institute of Marine Research and Laboratory of Geoinformation and Positioning Technology. Expert knowledge will be provided to the project by different partners of co-operation, including Kotka Maritime Research Centre (Merikotka ry), South-East Finland Regional Environment Centre, Estonian Ministry of the Environment, Eurouniversity of Tallinn and Estonian Environment Information Centre.

FEM -research group's spheres of responsibilities in EVAGULF -project are:

  • Compilation of data from different sources in co-operation with the other partners
  • Assessment of the most risky communities in the Gulf of Finland and the quality of the data concerned
  • Construction of ecological models for the purposes of the decision tool in co-operation with the other partners




The influence of river discharge regulation, over dam transportation and fishing on salmon population of river Kymijoki (2006)

Until the beginning of 20th century, river Kymijoki was one of the major salmon rivers in Finland. By the midway of last century the inhabiting salmon population got extincted, owing to intensive damming of tributaries and contamination of water.

Couple of decades later, the quality of water got better and re-introducing of salmon back to the river was attempted. This was carried out by stocking smolts of Neva salmon. This turned out as a success, and soon the catches of Gulf of Finland salmon fisheries increased. Regardless, the natural spawning of the population has stayed rather small-scaled, and doesn't cover the losses caused by intensive fishing.

To reach their spawning habitats, the fishes have only one way up: they have to swim through the floodgates of a dam in Koivukoski tributary. However, this is possible only under unusually high discharge circumstances. Fishes can also spawn downstream from the dam, but in this case too, the success is strongly limited by the discharge regulation of the tributary.

In another tributary, Korkeakoski, upstream migration is interupted by an 8 m high dam, where transportation of salmons was carried out during the years 2004 and 2005. Ascending mature adults were tagged, which enables stock evaluation of the whole breeding population upstream from the dam.

Purpose of the study is to evaluate the size of breeding salmon population and smolt production in river Kymijoki, and to estimate the influence of discharge regulation, fishing and over dam transportation of ascending fishes.

The research problem is complicated and the available data is diverse in type and quality, which gives good prerequisitions to the use of Bayesian modelling.