The pilot implementation process of the Early Warning System (EWS) on Harmful Aquatic Organisms and Pathogens (HAOP) in ports has started on 25 February 2022 as an online event, organized by the COMPLETE PLUS project partner, the Marine Research Institute of Klaipeda University (MRI_KU), Lithuania. The aim of EWS is to reduce the risk of spreading HAOP by minimizing the uptake and discharge of ballast water which could be harmful to the recipient port or area. The recent Baltic Sea Action Plan 2021 calls to “Establish by 2024 and subsequently implement the early warning system in case of the introduction of invasive species in ports”. This is why the pilot implementation of the EWS is of high political relevance in the Baltic Sea region.

An invitation to the event was sent out by e-mail to the contacts and observers of the JTG BALLAST & BIOFOULING through the HELCOM Secretariat, as well as to other interested parties by the workshop organizers. The workshop was attended by 40 participants from 13 countries such as Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UK and intergovernmental organizations HELCOM and OSPAR.

During the kick-workshop the concept of the EWS, its technical implementation in the AquaNIS platform, the roles of EWS data providers, EWS Expert Group and EWS signal receivers was demonstrated. During the practical exercise the EWS process on sending alert report from data providers was demonstrated and the decision-making process was modeled. Such HELCOM countries as Denmark, Finland, Latvia and Lithuania agreed to participate in the pilot implementation of the project and took part in the demonstration event as users of the system. They received full access to the system for its further use during the pilot implementation.

Text: Sergej Olenin and Greta Srėbalienė (Klaipeda University)

Sergej Olening presenting the policy relevance of the Early Warning System at the launch workshop.

Part of the procedure for creating a report when a harmful aquatic organisms an pathogens (HAOP) are detected.

Greta Srėbalienė launcing the Early Warning System.