Fight against environmental damage in sea areas

The Ministry of the Interior is responsible for general guidance, monitoring and development concerning the prevention of and response to oil and chemical spills from ships at sea. 

The National Strategy for the Prevention of and Response to Environmental Damage extending to 2035, adopted as a government resolution on February 2023, supports the authorities in their preparedness work, sets requirements and demonstrates Finland’s resolve to further develop the operations.

The Border Guard is responsible for managing the prevention of environmental damage in Finland’s exclusive economic zone or on the high seas in its territorial waters. Rescue authorities of wellbeing services counties are in charge of matters closer to the shore, in inland waters and on land. In Åland, the Government of Åland is responsible for preventing environmental damage.

State-owned multi-purpose vessels, such as the Border Guard’s patrol vessel Turva, underpin the preparedness to prevent environmental damage in open sea areas. These vessels have built-in oil recovery systems, which means that they can quickly take action to prevent environmental damage, if necessary. 

The vessels of the Finnish Border Guard and the Finnish Navy have the greatest recovery capacity and shortest response time for responding to environmental damage on the open sea. Both have three vessels in use for this purpose. In addition, the Border Guard has service agreements on maintaining the operational readiness of oil spill response vessels with private operators in the eastern Gulf of Finland, the Archipelago Sea, Kvarken and the Bothnian Bay.

Other parties involved in preventing environmental damage include the Finnish Environment Institute, the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom, Metsähallitus and the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment. Volunteers also play an important role. Municipalities are responsible for the post-spill clean-up.

Close international cooperation

In addition to national measures, the prevention of extensive oil spills and chemical spills from ships also requires close international cooperation. International treaties have been concluded on cooperation, and international exercises for preventing environmental damage are organised annually. 

In Finland, international requests for assistance related to preventing environmental damage at sea are addressed to the Finnish Border Guard, which is responsible for managing and coordinating these matters at the national level.

The main principle is that the party causing the environmental damage compensates for the costs of prevention and response measures.

Inquiries: Pekka Parkkali, Maritime Safety Specialist , tel. +358 295421154