2020 was a year of breakthroughs

The foggy outlook of the future of the year 2020 hardly slowed us down at all. On the contrary, even in a challenging environment, we have succeeded in making Baltic Sea protection history on many fronts. The results speak for themselves.

In December we published the final reports for the Local Fishing and River Vantaa Gypsum projects. Fish stock management and the gypsum treatment of fields are both important new initiatives in Baltic Sea protection. We have managed to not only reduce the nutrient load of the sea, but also kickstart and promote major societal change: together with other stakeholders of the sector, we have managed to commercialize fish stock management in the Baltic Sea. What we started in Finland is now moving forward in Sweden with the Baltic Fish project.

Meanwhile, the River Vantaa Gypsum project, implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of the Environment and project partners, is spearheading the wider deployment of gypsum: this measure, now implemented on a wider scale in Southwest Finland with funding from the Ministry of the Environment, is also taken beyond the borders of Finland in the Gypsum Initiative project. Research has shown that gypsum is the most efficient first aid measure to tackle nutrient discharges from agriculture; for us working for the Baltic Sea, it gives us extra time to search for other measures to curb nutrient loads from agriculture.

By trying new things and scaling them up we can achieve great results. Many Baltic Sea actions are also climate actions, and one example of these is eating fish that is caught sustainably from the Baltic Sea. Another example of benefitting both the sea and the Earth is the Coastal Reed Project, launched together with Metsähallitus this autumn. The project’s objective is to recycle the nutrients of reed growths from eutrophicated coastal waters to land. At the same time, we promote the sustainable and versatile use of renewable reed mass as a raw ingredient that replaces peat and support the protection of nature’s biodiversity. Based on experiences from the pilot, plans are to expand the operations in the coming years.

Cross-border cooperation is a prerequisite of Baltic Sea protection. In the Fertilizer Shipping project, we tackle a major source of discharges in cooperation with stakeholders of the field. In June, together with our Swedish partners, we piloted a new method that aims at retaining phosphorus permanently in the bottom sediment with limestone. Before summer we launched the three-year Sustainable Biogas project, which seeks to reduce the impact of biogas production on the waterways. in 2020 we and the City of Helsinki completed the BEST project, which identified not only best practices, but also glaring deficiencies in the treatment of harmful substances.

Our corona year cultural deed was Digimuseo.fi, launched in May in cooperation with the Finnish Museums Association and allowing us to browse museum exhibits safely from our living room couches. Currently, the museum features four pilots, including the maritime collection of the Foundation, but already year 2021 we will have a plethora of new content to fill the limitless walls of Digimuseo. This is something we are particularly excited about: it is, once again, a new initiative and a breakthrough that we have had the pleasure and honour to be brainstorming and implementing. In August, we celebrated Baltic Sea Day, now with already more than 150 partners – merely a year after launching this celebration dedicated to the sea.

It is the duty of our generation and the mission of this Foundation to save the Baltic Sea and its heritage for future generations. I would like to extend my warmest thanks for the year 2020 to all our supporters, partners, and friends of the Baltic Sea. Without your support, we would not be able to do our effective work to nurture the well-being and maritime culture of the Baltic Sea. Our uncompromising work with concrete results will continue in 2021.

Annamari Arrakoski-Engardt, Ph.D.
Managing Director, John Nurminen Foundation