Baltic Sea macroalgae. (Photo Credit: Baltic Seaweed)
Baltic sea resource use researched to boost conditions
Friday, September 06, 2013, 03:10 (GMT + 9)
Eight countries, among which is Finland, have taken part in a three-year project undertaken to research different ways of taking advantage of the Baltic Sea’s marine resources.
The initiative, known as Sumariner project, counted with the EU’s Baltic Sea Region Programme’s financial support.
Throughout three years, the scientists have looked into different ways of using up micro and macroalgae, common reed, mussels and microbes. They also analysed the prospective use of wave energy installations in the Baltic Sea as well as the possibility of using offshore wind park areas for other economic activities.
All Baltic coastal states are taking part in the initiative except for Russia. In the case of Finland, the country's representation comes through the Finnish Environment Institute SYKE.
Finland’s contribution to the project entailed testing of sea macroalgae cultivation in Tvärminne and Rymättylä and also the evaluation of the possibility of cultivating microalgae under Nordic conditions.
Although the initiative has proven that it is possible to cultivate microalgae in the Baltic Sea in an industrial scale, results have shown that so far, producing it at such large scale is not economically viable due to the scarce sunlight available in the region, which is essential for the growth of this plant. This means that plans of using microalgae as the next biofuel will have to be shelved, at least for now.
As part of the initiative, the possibilities of using mussels and algae mass were also analysed to be used for animal feed, fertilizer or biogas production.
"Executed correctly, these new ways of using the sea would cause no harm to the marine environment. Instead, by cultivating algae, mussels or common reed we can remove nutrients from the sea and even improve its condition," Senior Researcher, Jukka Seppälä from SYKE's Marine Research Centre, explained.
"Because the SUBMARINER project covered only part of the Baltic Sea's resources, a coordinated charting of the Baltic Sea's biotechnological resources is recommended. Chemicals produced by marine organisms, for example, are used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetics, food and chemical industries. However, existing resources have not been properly charted so far. They should be investigated as part of the EU's Blue Growth initiative," the researcher added.
Seppälä explained the project was trying to look at ways of taking advantage of existing marine bacteria and stressed that its diversity could only be secured through the protection of marine ecosystems.
Submariner project will end in the first days of this month and in a conference to be held in Poland the guidelines will be shared to raise awareness regarding the importance of improving the existing Baltic Sea’s condition and the best way of utilising Baltic marine resources.
Related work will carry on through a cooperation network.
By Gabriela Raffaele