Nordic marine protection forerunner joins forces with global story brand Moomin to clean one of the most polluted seas in the world: international #OURSEA campaign attracts interest from the Nordics to Japan

The global marine protection community is turning their eyes to the Nordics, where Finnish marine protection organization John Nurminen Foundation is cleaning one of the most polluted seas in the world with record-breaking achievements and is now stepping up their international efforts and visibility by joining forces with global children’s story brand Moomin. The #OURSEA campaign aims to fight one of the worst environmental problems in Northern Europe by combining innovative scientific solutions and engaging storytelling, which has touched millions of readers globally.

Lighthouse for storytelling and showcase for groundbreaking protection measures

The John Nurminen Foundation is a pioneer in marine protection, utilizing results from cutting-edge research combined with wide popular outreach and political lobbying in various states around the Baltic Sea to achieve record-breaking results.

In the Gulf of Finland, the John Nurminen Foundation, in cooperation with its partners, has been able to reduce the amount of algae available phosphorus by as high as 75% in just 10 years. These are record levels when considering any marine protection efforts globally, and the Baltic Sea is a showcase of effective and targeted measures to reduce nutrient loading. These solutions can be applied on a global scale as world oceans begin facing the same problems as the Baltic Sea, accelerated by global warming.

The mission of the Foundation is to save the sea and its heritage for future generations, by carrying on the tradition of storytelling and production of marine cultural content and applying the best scientific solutions to rescue the Baltic Sea. All in all, the Foundation has started over 30 Clean Baltic Sea projects in wastewater treatment plants and other areas. In addition to implementing a new innovative method to curb loading from agriculture through gypsum treatment of fields, it has created a navigation system for tankers, started a fishing project for sustainable commercial use of underused fish in the Baltic Sea in Finland and Sweden, is leading a project to assess measures that reduce internal load of the sea, and is working on risks related to nutrient leakages from biogas production. The Foundation currently has a number of new projects in the pipeline.

Through partnerships such as the upcoming #OURSEA campaign carried out with Moomin Characters Ltd, the Foundation aims to gain more impact for its work.

International #OURSEA campaign engages partners from all fields of society

The Moomins are a family of friendly, round trolls who live in Moominvalley with their diverse group of friends and acquaintances. The Moomins, created by Tove Jansson, have enjoyed international popularity since the 1950s, and nowadays the Moomins are one of Finland’s biggest exports and have a global fan base.

When Moomin Characters Ltd, the official copyright holder of the Moomin characters, chose a theme and a partner for its charity campaign celebrating the upcoming Moomin 75 anniversary in 2020, the sea and John Nurminen Foundation was an obvious choice. Moomin Characters wants to engage the broad Moomin audience in the quest to save the Baltic Sea, which was a highly important inspiration for Moomin creator Tove Jansson, who wrote and illustrated the Moomin stories, translated into more than 50 languages to date.

The year 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of the first Moomin story, The Moomins and the Great Flood, which takes place in the middle of a natural disaster.

“We want to take care of the sea and do everything we can to protect it. Amazing work is being done for the future of the Baltic Sea, and we want to join this effort and also inspire as many people and different organisations as possible to join,” says Sophia Jansson, Creative Director and Chairman of the Board at Moomin Characters.

The goal of the #OURSEA campaign is to collect one million euros for John Nurminen Foundation’s work for the Baltic Sea and its heritage and raise awareness and sense of urgency about the state of the Baltic Sea. The funds for the activities of the John Nurminen Foundation will be collected through corporate donations, direct donations from consumers, campaign products and events.

The #OURSEA campaign engages participants from cities and municipalities to corporations, NGO:s, retailers, schools and various cultural institutions and media outlets from around the Baltic Sea and beyond. Even before being officially launched, the campaign has attracted international attention well beyond the Nordics, with participation and media interest from as far as Japan and Great Britain. This goes to show that #OURSEA encompasses all the seas on our blue planet, and that there is great international interest in the lessons that can be learnt from the laboratory for marine solutions that the Baltic Sea has become.

The full campaign program including all partners and events will be launched at the International Boat Fair in Helsinki on February 7, 2020.

Export from Finland: innovative water protection measures

Due to its unique and delicate ecosystem, the Baltic Sea, one of the world’s most researched seas, suffering from eutrophication, is now rapidly becoming a test bed for the effects of climate change. It is not immune to the environmental impact of food production, that has become a wicked problem globally. 60 % of the average Finn’s Baltic Sea nutrient footprint is caused by food production. There are a number of initiatives to try to curb nutrient load from agriculture. Today, the most effective method is gypsum treatment, a Finnish innovation, developed, tested and piloted by University of Helsinki and Finnish Research Institute SYKE.

To speed up the acceptance and nationwide implementation of the method, John Nurminen Foundation was among the first to implement projects to use the method in two river areas in Southern Finland. Now the state is implementing a large-scale project in the catchment area of the Archipelago Sea, and what’s more, the Foundation just received funding from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs to raise awareness on the method also outside Finland.

Annamari Arrakoski-Engardt, PhD, Secretary General for the Foundation, is adamant that there is still hope for the Sea – and the planet. “The #OURSEA lighthouse booth at Slush, courtesy of our long-term partner Supercell, is a great emblem of the ambition and reach of the Foundation’s work. The Baltic Sea is more than its ecological state. It’s our national treasure and a bridge to the world. Our goal is to both promote concrete measures to improve the state of the Baltic Sea as well as draw attention to its unique and rich cultural heritage. It is important that we raise awareness of the Baltic Sea and its history, as this helps us appreciate its uniqueness and the need for its conservation. We have seen that we can make the impossible possible, even in our lifetime.“

Want to learn more about the Baltic Sea and the #OURSEA campaign?

Come learn about the groundbreaking environmental measures that are being taken to save one of the most polluted seas in the world, and the environmental impact lessons that can be learnt from a record-making Finnish foundation determined to make the impossible possible. Come and meet us at stand 6D.6

Annamari Arrakoski-Engardt, Secretary General for the John Nurminen Foundation, Roleff Kråkström, CEO of Moomin Characters and Sophia Jansson, Creative Director and Chairman of the Board of Moomin Characters are available for discussion and interviews on Friday, November 22nd at 10–12 in the conference room 210 at Slush, in the Exhibition and Convention Center of Helsinki, Messukeskus, Messuaukio 1, Helsinki.

For interview requests, please contact communications director Tuula Putkinen by Thursday, 21. November, before 12.00.

Tuula Putkinen
Communications Director
John Nurminen Foundation
+358 (0)400 907 809

Press photos for journalists:
https://johnnurmisensaatio.fi/tietoa-meista/mediapankki/ Password: jns

For more information about the campaign please visit: www.oursea.fi

John Nurminen Foundation – Baltic Sea protection and marine culture
Founded in 1992, the purpose of the John Nurminen Foundation is to save the Baltic Sea and its heritage for future generations. The Foundation has been awarded for its work as a communicator of information and producer of marine content. The goal of the Foundation’s Clean Baltic Sea projects is to improve the condition of the Baltic Sea with tangible measures that will reduce the load and environmental risks directed towards the sea. The work is steered by measurable results and impact. www.johnnurmisensaatio.fi/en

About the Moomins and Moomin Characters
The Moomins are one of Finland’s biggest exports and have a global fan base. Tove Jansson (1914-2001), Finnish-Swedish writer and artist, wrote and illustrated nine novels, four picture books and hundreds of comic strips about the Moomins between 1945 and 1970. The books about the brave, adventurous, yet family-focused and home-loving Moomins have been translated into more than 50 languages and are still in print all over the world today. The Moomins have enjoyed international popularity since the 1950s, when the original Moomin comic strips were published in the Evening News newspaper in Great Britain and syndicated globally to tens of millions of readers during more than 20 years, followed by animation series, theme parks, theatre plays etc on several continents. Moomin Characters Ltd is the official copyright holder of the Moomin characters. All characters from Moominvalley are trademark registered worldwide. www.moomin.com

Facts & Figures about the Baltic Sea

Climate change is accelerating the environmental problems of the Baltic Sea, and worsening its already gravest issue, eutrophication. Increasing rainfall will increase nutrient runoff from land, and warming seawater will boost algae growth in the sea. The nastiest problem of the Baltic Sea is blue-green algal blooms, caused by an overdose of nutrients in the water.

Research confirms the state of alarm: for example, in Tvärminne zoological station, the water has warmed up two degrees in the depth of 30 meters in just 19 years. The speed of change is such that the sea does not have enough time to adapt. This, together with eutrophication, has led to changes in biodiversity, i.e. the richness in the species of the Baltic Sea. The changes caused by climate change and eutrophication are also financial, reflected e.g. in the recreational use of the sea, tourism and fishing as a livelihood.

Large areas of sea bottom are practically dead, and the dead sea bottoms cause a vicious circle of internal loading. Because of the activities of man, excessive amounts of nutrients (=nitrogen and phosphorus) have ended up in the Baltic Sea when efficient wastewater treatment and other measures for reducing discharges were not yet in place. The phosphorus load, accrued during many decades, is again released and used by the algae.

The Baltic Sea is one of the most polluted sea areas in the world. Why? It’s an ecologically sensitive and vulnerable sea that is exposed to the activities of ca. 90 million people.

  • Compared to oceans, the Baltic Sea is small and shallow. The average depth of the Baltic Sea is only 54 m, whereas the average depth of the Atlantic, for example, is approximately 4 km, and even the Mediterranean is 1.5 km deep. The Baltic Sea is roughly the size of California, or 1/250th of the Atlantic
  • The sea is tucked between nine countries: Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Russia (surprisingly, parts of Norway, Belarus, Ukraine, Czech Republic & Slovakia also belong to catchment area)
  • About 90 million people live in the catchment area of the Baltic Sea – which is much bigger in size than the sea itself.  As these people live, work, and spend their leisure time, their activities also affect the sea: producing wastewater, farming extensive areas of land, traveling over the sea, building their houses and summer cottages in the catchment area of the Baltic Sea.
  • Water in the Baltic Sea is low-saline brackish water – a unique mix of salty and fresh waters. The saline content of the water in the Baltic Sea is only about a fifth compared to the salinity of oceans
  • The Baltic Sea is connected to the North Sea via the narrow Danish straits, and its water turnover time is extremely slow. It has been calculated that it takes roughly 30 years for the entire water mass of the Baltic Sea to change. Because of the slow turnover of the water, environmental toxins and nutrients that cause eutrophication in the sea will stay in the Baltic Sea for a long period of time.
  • The water of the Baltic Sea is permanently stratified, according to salinity. The salty seawater, entering from the North Sea, is heavier, and sinks down to the seabed and deeper areas of the Baltic Sea basin.
  • Many species that live in the Baltic Sea are already pushing their capability to adapt to the extreme. The flora and fauna of the Baltic Sea are also very sensitive to changes in the environment.