Completing management options in the Baltic Sea Region to reduce risk of invasive species introduction by shipping

October 2017 -
March 2021


Policy area:
3. Transport 3.4 Clean shipping


Shipping contributes to the uncontrolled introduction of invasive species to the Baltic Sea, which has severe environmental and economic consequences. COMPLETE supports the implementation of the new International Maritime Organization’s convention on ballast water management by triggering regional cooperation, developing risk assessment procedures for ballast water management exemptions and setting a monitoring system of non-indigenous species in the Baltic Sea.


Shipping as the source of invasive aquatic organisms

Shipping is the most important vector of introduction of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens in marine environment worldwide. Such organisms can have significant socioeconomic and ecological impacts when they spread to new sea areas, as they can affect human health, livelihoods like aquaculture and fisheries or alter the structure of marine food webs. The project COMPLETE works towards minimising the introduction of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens by developing a consistent and adaptive management system for the Baltic Sea region.

Challenge to be faced

COMPLETE addresses two major sources of harmful organisms introduction by shipping: ballast water and ship hulls. The project tackles several gaps in current knowledge and management: rights and obligations of involved stakeholders such as ship owners and port authorities; approaches for non-indigenous species monitoring and surveillance for the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the Intermational Maritime Organization Ballast Water Management Convention; risk assessment based exemptions from ballast water management requirements; legal aspects; regional cooperation and information exchange. The technical aspects of that complex problem include yet limited knowledge on antifouling practices and procedures (and resulting level of biofouling); the lack of common cleaning procedures and facilities and their cost-efficiency analysis; quantities of biofouling waste and its handling procedures; and the role of leisure boats and their trailers in primary introductions and secondary spread of invasive species.

COMPLETE cooperation

The project partners of COMPLETE have long-term expertise and know-how in innovative solutions for shipping, risk assessment and management systems, surveillance and monitoring. The participation of HELCOM ensures involvement of relevant institutions from all Baltic Sea countries, harmonising the implementation of the Ballast Water Management Convention and elaboration on the Baltic Sea region biofouling management strategy. Stakeholders linked to the scientific potential in the Baltic Sea region are involved in an Advisory Board.

Highlights by mid-term:

The HELCOM/OSPAR Joint Harmonized Procedure (JHP) defines the low risk routes for IMO Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC) exemptions, as well as the necessary steps for granting these exemptions. This procedure ensures that exemptions are granted in a constant manner that prevents damage to the environment, human health, property or resources. Target Species (TS) serve as basis for the risk assessment analyses. COMPLETE submitted the final version of the TS selection criteria to the task group responsible for updates to the procedure. The criteria have been prepared transnationally in the project and will be used in the 21 Baltic and North-East Atlantic coastal states who agreed on the procedure.

In addition, COMPLETE has given guidance to national administrations how to carry out compliance monitoring for the BWMC, by organising ballast water sampling and analysis training. The knowledge accumulated during the training workshop will be further distributed by the participants from seven Baltic Sea countries, who also brought in their experience and questions concerning the further development of all ballast water issues.


€ 3.23
€ 2.52
Eni + Russia
€ 0.00
€ 0.00



Project manager

Kotka Maritime Research Association

Miina Karjalainen

358 445 222 843

Legal representative

Kotka Maritime Research Assocation (KMRA)

Anna Kiiski

358 40 752 4392

Financial manager

Kotka Maritime Research Association

Piia Nygren

358 447 636 173

Communication manager

Kotka Maritime Research Association

Miina Karjalainen

358 445 222 843