One Bothnian Bay, and a sea of laws regulating it…

The today’s and future status of the northern Bothnian Bay is to a large extent decided by the laws regulating activities in and around it and the regulations stating what quality of environment we want and don’t want. The sea is the same but the legal framework looks different in Sweden and Finland. One thing we have in common though is the fact that we are all answering to the same EU-directives, which set the overall framework for the marine environment within the whole EU.

Sounds complicated and bureaucratic? Wouldn’t say it is easy, but never the less, it can be quite interesting and ever so important to consider when it comes to working for a sustainable marine environment.

For two days we therefor gathered experts, working with different aspects of marine management and it’s legal application, from around the northern Bothnian Bay. Together we shared knowledge and working practices to gain a better understanding of what is regulating the sea on the other side of our own country border,

A compilation we made of the organisation structure within Sweden and Finland and their respective implementation of the EU-directives that relate to the marine environment.
In short it goes like this: 1. The EU-directives set the overall goal of achieving healthy, sustainable seas and waters and what each member state need to do in order to ahieve this. 2. The countries implenemt the EU-directives wihtin their national laws, and it is here it start diversifying… 3. Each country has it’s own set of organisation and appointed who is responsible for deciding, applying and supervising each national laws.

Knowing we are all guided in our work by the same goal in the EU-directives, we came to discuss the local issues regarding protection of the sea. The protection of the sea may come in different forms, as laws for establishment of protected areas, as regulations concerning threatened species and habitats or as permits granting what activities are allowed and not within the water and on the shores.

We could quickly conclude that our legal framework and organisations are quite different. However, our major difficulties and daily struggles seemed to be exactly the same. The lack of knowledge and information about the marine environment reoccuringly was brought up as a hindrance. When we don’t know what species could be living there and how they are affected by human activities, it is very difficult to assess cases and apply laws accordingly. This is where the marine maps produced in SEAmBOTH can come into good use. Playing with the thought that we could wish for anything, as children around Christmas time, we wrote down our wishes on a “wish-list” for marine management:

“more information on the effects of human impacts”

“Ecosystem approach to legislaiton”

“Open accessible GIS data”

“Monitoring of ecological status”

… to mention a few of them.

Our wishes! for a more sustainable, cooperative marine management in the northern Bothnian Bay.

Who knows, one day these wishes may come true? Or hopefully some of them at least. We are very hopeful, and just by starting talking to each other across the border and sharing our knowledge with each other we have taken one first step forward.

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