Ongoing projects

The FEM Group is specialized in risk and decision analysis focusing on the Baltic Sea, the applications covering, for example, oil spill risks, eutrophication, marine spatial planning, and fisheries management.

COMPLETE 2017-2020

COMPLETE (Completing management options in the Baltic Sea Region to reduce risk of invasive species introduction by shipping) is an Interreg Baltic Sea Region funded project to minimise introduction of invasive species carried by ships. The project focuses on the issue in the Baltic Sea region, and it brings together 12 organisations across the region.

Invasive species are identified as a major threat to the world’s oceans and biodiversity. The most important vector introducing harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens in marine environment is shipping. COMPLETE project will provide a comprehensive approach on the complex issue. Through delivering required management tools and practical guidelines, it will find a harmonized way to comply with the requirements set by the IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention in the Baltic Sea region.

COMPLETE PLUS April-December 2021

COMPLETE PLUS project continues the work started in the COMPLETE and brings into practise the tools and guidelines developed. 


SIMREC - Simulators for improving Cross-Border Oil Spill Response in Extreme Conditions (2019-2022)

SIMREC project aims at mitigating the risks oil-spills pose on the environment of the Gulf of Finland by fostering cooperation between Finland and Russia and jointly developing a new generation of training simulations. By combining the know-how and expertise of authorities as well as research institutions of both countries, the project’s objective is to develop tailored training programs and optimize the preparedness of response teams. The centerpiece of SIMREC is the development of an innovative and cost-efficient simulation environment training that capacitates response teams to maximize the efficiency of their operations.

FEM  (PhD Annukka Lehikoinen) leads a work package titled ”Decision-making and decision support”. The WP focuses on searching the patterns of decision making during the oil spill operation, that are likely to lead to good results, and further on suggest protocols and tools to support the process. In practice, we develop an analysis protocol to study the decision-making and the related communication by the participants of the oil spill simulator exercises. The aim is to reach improved understanding concerning the nature of successful vs. unsuccessful decisions during the operations. Especially the role of communication and information sharing in reaching the collective situational picture is of interest. Based on the improved understanding the needs and types of optimal communication and decision support protocols and tools will be mapped and a roadmap for future produced.

The South-East Finland-Russia CBC 2014-2020 -programme is the main financer and the total budget for the project is EUR 1 467 266. The project partners are Kotka Maritime Research Association (coordinator), Aalto University, Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences, State Marine Technical University of Saint-Petersburg and Admiral Makarov State University of Maritime and Inland Shipping.


WISE- Creative adaptation to wicked socio-environmental disruptions 2018-2024

WISE aims to improve decision making over wicked socio-environmental disruptions and to increase Finland’s resilience and adaptation to such disruptions. The project develops and tests an integrated national level policy mechanism, the Policy Operations Room (POR). It creates rapid and evidence based adaptation approaches to unexpected socio-environmental disruptions, such as simultaneous climate refugees, energy crises, and political instabilities.

WISE is part of the Academy of Finland’s Strategic Research Council program Adaptation and resilience for sustainable growth. It contributes to the program’s objective to increase resilience through the use and new combinations of societal, community and individual resources. Resilience refers to a capacity to absorb socio-environmental disruptions, while adaptation refers to the recovery of socio-environmental systems after disruption. WISE produces multidisciplinary knowledge to improve societal resilience and adaptation.


Gulf of Bothnia as Resource for Sustainable Growth (2015-2020)

SmartSea project is focused on the Gulf of Bothnia as its active maritime sector ensures vast potential for Blue Growth. In addition, it is still relatively untouched compared to the other Baltic Sea areas. Furthermore, climate change will most probably have the most drastic effects in this area.

In SmartSea, the integrated value of nature will be assessed and in order to be effective, discussed with the different stakeholders. In the future, this helps planners to do decisions that are accepted by the society.

SmartSea project will bring zoned area thinking, marine spatial planning, into marine areas as a tool to ensure efficient resource utilization. This is achieved by tight interactions between scientists and people applying the information, as SmartSea aims to provide accurate information of the application possibilities of marine areas for the decision-makers.

New risk analysis tools and data sets that will be developed to assist maritime spatial planning offer an opportunity to assign value judgments that combine optimally all the different sectors.

SmartSea is part of the “Climate-Neutral and Resource-Scarce Finland”–program, funded by the Strategic Research Council of Academy of Finland.


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).

Past projects

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.


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.

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. BONUS 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 BONUS 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 BONUS 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).


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.