To celebrate the Baltic Sea Day and raise awareness about marine pollution, OIL SPILL organized a webinar with Keep the Archipelago Tidy Association and POPCORN project. The event was held in Finnish.
In the panel discussion, Juha Virto (Chief of Rescue Services, Southwest Finland Emergency Services), Tommi Virtanen (Head of Preparedness, Finnish Red Cross), and experienced volunteer Petri Jaarto (WWF Finland) shared their views on the cooperation between volunteers and authorities in oil spill response (OSR). OIL SPILL Communication Manager Minna-Liina Ojala hosted the panel.
The panelists were unanimous regarding the importance of joint recurring OSR exercises between volunteers and authorities. Although large oil spills are rather rare, preparedness is a continuous process. Vellamo 2021 exercise, for instance, gathered the different OSR actors to test and practice current procedures. It was a success. However, success in a 2-day tabletop exercise is not enough; the mechanisms have to sustain a real operation that could last several weeks or even months. The panelists agreed that there is still work to do be done in developing the national and cross-border collaboration models in OSR.
- Juha Virto’s interview for the OIL SPILL Project
- Tommi Virtanen on voluntary oil spill response
- About WWF Finland’s OSR activities, WWF öljyntorjuntajoukot
- Finnish Voluntary Rescue Service’s website
In his presentation, Atte Lindqvist from Keep the Archipelago Tidy Association shed light on the marine litter situation on the Finnish coast. Most of this waste is plastic, and, as the image below shows, recreational use (tourism & individual users, blue color) is the main source of beach litter. Atte noted that marine litter is a problem that can be solved. Education leads to the change of attitude and behaviour. The Association is engaged in diverse and concrete activities – from environmental maintenance tasks and educational work to national and international project work – to keep Finland’s coastlines and archipelago clean. One of these activities is the Clean Beach campaign, in which anyone can easily participate, read more about it here.
The webinar was concluded by Niko Hänninen (University of Oulu), Project Manager of the POPCORN Project (Preventing Oil and Plastics Contamination of Ocean Regions of the North). This newly established clustering project is co-funded by the Interreg Northern Periphery and Arctic programme. POPCORN brings together four projects with a focus on maritime oil or plastics contamination: Circular Ocean, Blue Circular Economy, APP4SEA, and OIL SPILL. The idea is to take the results and developed best practices to new regions and stakeholders.
This webinar presentation was a snapshot premier of POPCORN for the Finnish audience. Niko was also happy about the chance to learn more about the role of the volunteers in OIL SPILL and the activities of WWF Finland and Keep the Archipelago Tidy, which both are Associated Organizations in the POPCORN cluster. Stay tuned, and follow POPCORN on Twitter!