The highest Executive Committee of the BSPC, led by the new President of the BSPC, Valerijus Simulik, held its first meeting under the Lithuanian Presidency in the German Bundestag.
Delegations from the Baltic Assembly, Finland, the German Bundestag, Hamburg, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the Nordic Council, Norway, Poland, the Russian Federation and Sweden participated in the meeting.
Commemoration on the Fall of the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall
In his opening address BSPC President Valerijus Simulik underlined that it was something special to be in Berlin on those very days; as the 9th November and the days following were of particular importance for Germany and beyond. The Fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago had greater meaning for the whole of Europe. As such, he was thankful to share the commemoration of that event with the German people. 9 November was not only the anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall but also of several other key events, such as the proclamation of the Weimar Republic 101 years earlier in Berlin.
Johannes Schraps, Head of the German Bundestag delegation to the BSPC, recalled in his welcoming words the various events on 9 November in German History. These days, there was no better place in his mind to host such a meeting than in Berlin because of the history associated with 9 November. More than just celebrating the 30thanniversary of the Berlin Wall, that day was a special date in German history beyond the events of 1989. Other years had also seen important moments happen on that day. Perhaps the first such was in 1919 when Philipp Scheidemann, a social democrat, announced the first republic in Germany. As a matter of fact, he did that from a balcony in this very building. But dark hours of the nation’s history were also associated with that date because 9 November 1938 saw the so-called “Night of the Broken Glass” when the Nazis in Germany burned down the synagogues in Berlin and all over Germany, starting the process of taking away all Jews in Europe. With that dark time associated with the date, 9 November was not just a day of remembering the unification of Germany but also the terrible times of the country’s history. In Mr Schraps’s opinion, it was important to do so in order to avoid living through something like that again. One should also keep in mind that 9 November was a day that made it possible for the parliamentarians of the Baltic Sea region to meet on this day. Of course, the Fall of the Iron Curtain extended beyond the Berlin Wall being abolished and included the developments in the Baltic countries, such as the Baltic Way that also saw its 30thanniversary in this year. Eastern Europe had equally contributed to this process, in Hungary, in what was then Czechoslovakia as well as Poland with Solidarnocz and not least Russia with Glasnost and Perestroika. All of these developments made it possible to come together and make the Cold War a matter of the past.
Presentations concerning sea-dumped munitions threat
The Standing Committee already dealt with the topic in depth at its previous meetings in Hamburg and in Oslo. A paragraph on the issue has been included in the 28th BSPC in Oslo resolution (call on the governments to … 24. with regard to the detection of unexploded ordnance and buried/deposited ammunition present in the Baltic Sea, and with reference to current HELCOM activities, work together and develop a cross-border, sustainable strategy for dealing with this,…) Therefore, the presentation by the Managing Director of EGEOS GmbH (Amucad), Mr Jann Wendt, on the discovery of munitions waste in the Baltic Sea and the presentation by Ms Anne Jacobs-Schleithoff, Head of Division Maritime Industry, Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy about the project “Ammunition salvage in the sea”, attracted a great deal of interest from the members of the Standing Committee.
Mr Jann Wendt, stated that the topic of ammunitions dumped in the sea was not a Baltic Sea or a North Sea problem but rather a worldwide concern. Such dumps were present along the coast of Japan as well as Australia, to name just these two. Certainly, though, the large-scale bombing campaigns during World War II in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea had created a considerable problem for these water bodies.
Mr Wendt noted that numerous wars had been fought over the territory adjacent to the Baltic Sea. However, the impacts of World Wars I and II had been extraordinary. Ammunitions were entering the water in different ways, he said. One cause was naval warfare, i.e. battles on the water surface but also military training which, he underlined, equally caused tremendous impact. There was also deliberate ammunitions dumping, especially after World War II.
He further differentiated that there were two types of ammunition in question here. There were on the one hand the chemical warfare agents; after World War II, the Baltic Sea had been used as a dumping site. Currently, expectations ran to some 40,000 tonnes of chemical warfare agents in the Baltic Sea. The main areas were the Little Belt, the Bornholm and Gotland Deep. Furthermore, a recent research project had determined that another dumping area for chemical agents was in the Gdansk deep. Mr Wendt explained more about these agents which included tabun, mustard gas, Lewisite, Adamsite, arsine oil. These are uptaken by breathing, skin contact and other ways of entering the body. Based on data gathered by HELCOM, a map he presented showed the sites of accidents with chemicals since the 1980s. Mostly, these concerned fishermen trawling and fishing and taking ammunitions on board, leading to injuries. Moreover, the map showed a wide concentration of such accidents around the Bornholm Deep, but due to the enterogenic effect, the trawling itself, the ammunitions were spread out, all over the sea.
Another important topic gaining more and more awareness was in fact conventional ammunition. While most of the conversation concerned chemical warfare, Mr Wendt underlined that the problem with conventional ammunitions was at an even larger scale. In the Baltic Sea, in the German EZ, there were around 300,000 tonnes of conventional ammunition. These included nearly 100,000 mines that had been placed during World Wars I and II in the Baltic Sea, a huge amount as he stressed. Nonetheless, he conceded that the numbers were quite uncertain. More investigations into naval warfare were needed, to determine what had been dismantled and what had been recovered. Mr Wendt noted that recovery operations had occurred especially in Germany after World War II. There were different training and battle exercises. What also had to be understood better was the topic of ammunition dumping itself. There was some information available, but it was quite scarce.
He proceeded to show some pictures of ammunition dumping, mentioning that it had been handled on an industrial scale. Ammunitions had been loaded onto ships and dumped into the sea. Mr Wendt also provided under-water pictures, giving an example of a site 175 m below the surface, showing a small box of projectiles. The area had been mapped by the Geomar Institute which had found millions of projectiles in boxes such as these that had been cast into the water. Mr Wendt also gave an example of a British ground mine under water. In this case, because of the thickness of the casing, that mine was in relatively good condition and resisting corrosion. But with thinner casing, the corrosion could lead to such cases as a fully opened anchorage mine he presented next. The TNT explosive charge had already been washed out of the casing entirely. The next step was also chronicled by Mr Wendt, showing a picture of a diver collecting biosamples in an area with disseminated TNT on the sea floor. Said TNT was very toxic, the speaker underlined. He further mentioned that hard substrates in the Baltic Sea were usually taken up directly by flora and fauna. In this case, the TNT was so toxic that no marine biology had even attempted to settle on it.
Mr Wendt continued to speak about the risks of ammunitions, such as safety and security. In the North Sea, in 2013, a Norwegian tanker had hooked a torpedo with its anchor. At this point, the tanker had held a cargo of 1,000 tonnes of oil. Another example from 2017 concerned a floating mine from World War II which had been discovered intact near an offshore windfarm, causing serious problems because of the rough weather making the demolition difficult. He went on to note a 2014 example of a child along the Northern Germany coast in Holstein. The child had played what it had thought to be a stone but this had turned out to be so-called “schießwolle”, which might be translated as gun cotton, but Mr Wendt cautioned that this was not quite accurate. The item in question was a mixture of TNT, aluminium and HND. This had caused severe skin irritation in the child. The speaker continued with an example of a man injured while collecting amber on the beach. He noted that this problem had received some treatment by the media, namely that white phosphorus from incendiary bombs which looked almost exactly like amber. Even for experts, it was extremely difficult to tell both apart. At an air temperature of roughly 25 °C, white phosphorus would start self-igniting, burning at 1,300 °C. In 2016, the amber collector had been seriously injured because he had put the white phosphorus in his pockets where it ignited, and there had been no chance of extinguishing the fire. The speaker moved on to yet another drastic example which he had found in the HELCOM records. This one dated from 1955 when 102 children had been heavily injured. They had been playing with a rusting barrel containing sulphur mustard on the beach. All of these examples, Mr Wendt said, made clear how severe the threat to safety and security was.
Of even greater concern, the speaker underlined, was the environmental threat. Safety and security was easy to understand but environmental threats were quite abstract and difficult to understand. Due to the recent research projects the speaker’s company was involved in, it had turned out that the environmental impact was even greater than thought before. He stated one example from the
(Umweltmonitoring für die Delaboration von Munition im Meer/ UDEMM – Hydrodynamic observations and simulations of munition in the sea as subproject of the collaborative project “Environmental monitoring for the delaboration of munitions in the seabed
(Robotic underwater salvage and disposal process with the technology to remove explosive ordnance in the sea, in particular in coastal and shallow waters
when experiments on mussels had been carried out near Kiel. On a map, Mr Wendt showed the locations of under-water craters caused by bombs as well as corroding mines. Mussels had been placed next to these mines, and the animals had showed an uptake of TNT into their organisms where the TNT had been metabolized into ADNT. The speaker underlined that this was actually even more toxic. Interestingly, an amount of 5-8 nanograms was found near the bombs, and Mr Wendt noted that a single molecule of TNT could be cancerogenic. While stressing that the presence of TNT near the bombs was relatively tiny, the bomb craters yielded fifty times greater amounts. Therefore, the most important conclusion was to avoid bomb blasts. Such blasts distributed all the remaining TNT in the water column; he noted that not all the explosive in the bomb was consumed by the blast. Mr Wendt noted an example from the DAIMON project, investigating flatfish, specifically the common dab. Dab were caught near a dumping site around Kiel, close to Heidkate. Flatfish were of interest because of their territorial nature, staying in the ground for prolonged periods of time. Most likely, these fish had spent all of their lives at the dumping ground. The researchers found that the dab showed 25 per cent of microscopic liver lumps, with 17 per cent identified as tumors. These could be clearly correlated to the ammunitions dumped in the sea. A reference site with respective dab caught showed only 5 per cent. As such, there was proof that ammunitions were entering the food chain. The speaker went on to mention another example from the DAIMON project. In the Skagerrak, various kinds of ships had been sunk, coming to rest at a depth of around 800 metres. Organisms in this area had also been investigated. Lobster, lamprey and cod were caught and proved to have remnants of Clark 1 and Clark 2 diphenylamine, which were also chemical warfare agents.
After these examples, Mr Wendt spoke about the projects of his own company, namely the Ammunitions Cadastre Sea (Amucad). The Cadastre had already been developed in 2011 as a proof of concept. The idea was to map everything that was related to World War II and derive a deep understanding of what they were facing. In the last years, there had been brand-new developments of new modules, ideas and projects based on the available resources. Amucad, he stressed, still had no public funding; it was rather financed by research money and the resources of EGEOS. It was a unique approach – something similar did not exist in the European research community. The good thing about Amucad, he said, was that it knew no borders. In this context, that was very important because ammunitions likewise did not recognize borders. The project was not legally bound to some institution for mapping areas; therefore, they approached all areas.
Regarding its general functionality, Mr Wendt said that they were combining worldwide historic and modern data sets, building a web-based software allowing easy access by different stakeholders. Information was thus made easily available. In capturing modern and historic data sets, they were managing large-scale information – which would be called “Big Data” in IT buzzwords -, and they were analyzing data with spatial and non-spatial relationships. The plan was to later use the system to monitor dumping sites. Their goal was to understand the changes the dump sites were causing to the environment in the long term.
He went on to specify how they included measurements.
Regarding the historic data and information, Mr Wendt underlined that this was key to understanding the legacy of ammunitions. Millions and millions of documents were scattered throughout the archives all over the world. As an example, he noted the archive in Freiburg, Germany, which housed fifty kilometres of documents. This was a huge amount which nobody could handle. Furthermore, there was quite the diversity to these documents, some offering good quality information, but others were hard to understand, written in specific naval languages (concerning abbreviations and terminology) that were not easy to decipher. Nonetheless, the analysis of these historical documents provided them with highly important information. For example, 1,500 historical maps had been fed into the system. He showed one such map, a British naval map with information on where ground mines had been dropped by airplanes. Mr Wendt stated that the British had documented these activities quite well: Accordingly, they knew about the locations, about the types of ammunition and even the pilot who had dumped them. Regarding the map, he pointed out that each of the circled locations could hold up to 100 mines. Most of these were still in place, Mr Wendt added.
With the system, they would later be able to combine all of this information to search for specific ammunitions or document specific areas. He proceeded to show a root network of the Germans who had tried to keep the straits free of ammunitions because these had been needed for shipping routes. Accordingly, they had been cleaning them of ammunitions. The respective documents had been found in southern Germany, dating presumably to 1944 and encompassing 100 pages. These had been digitized by Amucad and added to the map. Combining this information with the British data on mining operations, it turned out that – at least – the routes were not that secret. The British had known exactly where they had been throwing the mines, specifically dropping them into the shipping lanes. For Mr Wendt and his team, this was very important information as they could go first to these locations to map and verify what was still there.
Modern data, he underlined, was very important to recognize the risks they were facing. In his presentation, he showed different data sets, such as bathing grounds – i.e. tourism -, infrastructure – concerning cables like Northstream -, but they also included information like IAS data on modern shipping routes and traffic. It was even more interesting to put all of this on top of each other. The modern shipping lanes were quite close to the historic ones and thus still in proximity to ammunition littered across the sea floor. Given the immediate danger, that provided a good indication where to check first.
Mr Wendt said this was not just a system for managing modern and historic data but rather a platform. Amucad lay at the centre of a network dealing with lots of European research projects. Some of these he briefly introduced. First, he spoke about the DAIMON (Decision Aid for Marine Munitions) project which was funded by the Interreg Baltic Sea Region with roughly five million euros, involving institutes all over the Baltic Sea. The idea behind the project was to analyse the fish regarding ammunition compounds, developing toolboxes for monitoring and also developing artificial intelligence-based decision support systems. DAIMON decided to join the Amucad platform with its system and approach, since there had been nothing like Amucad before. Mr Wendt presented information on how DAIMON was implemented. The project brought together data from all kinds of different sources, including the shipping traffic mentioned before but also information on species distribution, biodiversity. Experts used this data to conduct risk assessments. Together with Polish partners, Amucad had implemented some modelling of the distribution of toxic compounds from ammunitions. All this information was collected into a report which was fed into an artificial intelligence support system to identify which threats were present, such as the types of ammunition. This process also provided more deep insight into how the latter system could be improved and how it should assist in the decision-making process. As such, it could serve as a mutual starting point for discussions about the specific ammunition findings.
Another project Amucad was directly involved in was the so-called North Sea Reg project. While it did not encompass the Baltic Sea region, it had similar concerns. The Interreg North Sea Programme funded it with nearly 4 million euros, with a number of large partners. As part of this project, Amucad was directly mapping the shipwrecks and investigating the surrounding ammunitions. Here, they were conducting statistical assessments as well. Another considerable aspect was organising an exhibition for the German Maritime Museum which also travelled around Europe. The North Sea Reg project had also decided to join the Ammunition Cadastre Sea so that it could serve as the interface for the project.
Mr Wendt continued with a project that EGEOS GmbH had applied for, a Schleswig-Holstein-funded project called ERPAD (Extraktion Räumlicher Positionen Aus historischen Dokumenten). They were automatically extracting historic positions from historic documents by processing these with artificial intelligence and extracting relevant information through the AI process. He reiterated that there were millions of documents in the archives, so there needed to be a systematic approach to obtain all the information. The speaker noted that they were still in the research phase for this project, but he considered the outlook to be good for a full implementation. The relevant data drawn from the archives was transferred to a map for further analysis.
He went on to describe the so-called BASTA (Boost Applied munition detection trough Smart data inTegration and AI) project which would be launched in December 2019. EGEOS along with GeoMar and Belgian colleagues had applied for this project which was part of the European Maritime Fisheries Fund. BASTA concerned complex data-based ammunition detection plus map integration and AI. This meant that the historic data they were capturing was used for the operations of an autonomous under-water vehicle equipped with sensors which was then sent to these specific locations. There, it would try to detect and classify information about munitions objects. This would provide a better understanding of what was actually in place on the ground. Mr Wendt’s team had also defined qualification metrics for the industry because the latter required standards to deal with this topic. Data management and extracted information entered the Cadastre Sea Project.
Mr Wendt mentioned that there were many more programmes he could speak about but considered this a sufficient overview for the moment. As such, he moved on to the conclusion, stating that they were only now beginning to truly understand the threat from sea-dumped ammunitions. The safety and security threat was clear and non-abstract. The environmental threat, though, was quite abstract, and the research along with the measurements that had now become possible enabled them to fully understand what ammunitions meant at the present and what they would mean for the future. In the last years, Mr Wendt had seen that responsible entities in the governments were needed as well as intensive national and international collaboration. In that regard, he mentioned the Expert Group on Sea Munitions in Schleswig-Holstein.
What was equally clear was that the window of opportunity to change the situation was closing. The ammunitions were corroding. It was expected that in twenty or thirty years, large-scale corrosion would be being releasing the chemicals into the sea. But beyond the release of the chemicals, there was another problem. If corrosion deteriorated the iron of the casings, there was no way to detect these ammunitions anymore. At this point, at least, TNT could not be detected on a large scale. Accordingly, maps were needed to determine where ammunitions were located, before they corroded. The Ammunitions Cadastre Sea was playing a central role in bringing all of this information together, combining research from different kinds of areas and also putting together stakeholders. He stressed the importance of the last point.
Jann Wendt Presentation on the discovery of munitions waste in the Baltic Sea: https://www.bspc.net/2019-11-11_bspc_amucad/
Ms Anne Jacobs-Schleithoff – Head of the coordinating office of the German Federal Government Coordinator for the Maritime Industry, Mr Norbert Brackmann, as well as Head of the office for Maritime Industry, informed that the office for Maritime Industry was mostly focused on funding programmes for shipyards, developing maritime technologies and dealing with strategic questions on how to orient the maritime policy of the German government. Within their funding programmes, they were financing the development of technology to detect and removing ammunition in the Baltic Sea.
It was estimated, as had already mentioned in the presentation before, that some 1.5 million tonnes of mines, bombs and other ammunitions dating back to World Wars I and II were either lying on the seabed or buried in sediment layers of the German North Sea and the Baltic Sea. They were posing a hazard for fishermen and often contained chemicals harmful to the marine environment. In addition, ammunitions-polluted areas were contributing to increasing costs in developing offshore windfarms. On average, this meant additional costs of around three to four million euros accrued for a typical medium-sized windfarm. Offshore wind energy was a key element of the German government’s energy transition policy, the so-called “Energiewende”. As of this time, detecting and removing ammunitions from larger areas of sea floor was a long and costly procedure with high risks for the involved personnel, especially the divers.
Therefore, the German federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy had reflected the need to develop new technology to efficiently and safely detect as well as defuse and remove ammunitions from offshore locations. This project was part of the German Maritime Research Strategy 2025 and played a vital role in the cross-sector research topic of maritime value, encompassing security, energy and resource supplies from the oceans. In the Maritime Research Programme, which served as the funding instrument of the Maritime Research Strategy 2025, automatized detection and clean-up of ammunitions dump areas in the sea was one of the declared innovation paths where technology development through research and development projects was needed.
They were also cooperating with other European countries to foster technology development in this field. Among many other topics, there were also calls for proposals in EU co-funding programmes like the ERA-NET Cofund MarTERA, addressing technologies for detection and removal of munitions. The third MarTERA transnational call will be published in early December 2019, and they were going to support this call with a substantial budget from their federal budget. So far, they had granted almost eleven million euros in financing for projects that aimed to develop relevant technologies to improve the detection and removal of munitions in the sea. Ms Jacobs-Schleithoff offered a couple of examples of the projects they were funding, such as SOAM, concerning AUV-based sensor and data analysis methods to improve the level of confidence, with 1.8 million euros of funding. She also mentioned the RoBEMM project which she would talk about more in detail later in her presentation. This project dealt with the automated excavation, removal and defusing of large pieces of munition on the seabed, with funding of 3.4 million euros. The MISO-Inspector project researched a contact-free chemical analysis of potential objects, funded at 1.6 million euros. EXTENSE, the sensor platform for the detection of objects buried up to 5 metres deep in the sediments, was provided with 1.2 million euros. Marine-EM was a system for the detection of low- and antimagnetic munitions across large-scale areas of the sea floor, with funding of 0.3 million euros. Concluding her brief overview of projects was UWSensor, optical real-time 3D survey of structures and objects under water, funded at 2.5 million euros. The speaker pointed out that there already was a larger effort by the German government to fund, promote and foster these kinds of technologies.
Next, Ms Jacobs-Schleithoff went into detail on the afore-mentioned project RoBEMM, one of the projects that had been successfully completed recently. The name was an acronym which stood for the German “Robotisches Unterwasser-Bergungs- und Entsorgungsverfahren” (in English Robotic Under-Water Recovery and Disposal Procedure), including technology to decommission ammunitions in the sea, especially in shallow water and coastal areas. The project had been finished at the end of March 2019 and had received a sum of 3.4 million euros in funding through the Maritime Research Programme of the German government. The German-Dutch company Boskalis Hirdes had led the consortium which had also included the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology, the University of Leipzig as well as Automatic Klein GmbH, a small- and medium-sized business specialised in automation technology. The consortium had been driven by the lack of safe and efficient methods to clear large areas of seabed from munitions, for example to prepare for the erection of an offshore wind farm or laying pipes or cables. All available methods so far required divers and a controlled detonation of the munitions in case of an active detonator. The RoBEMM consortium had addressed these shortcomings with their project objectives.
The main goal had been the development of an automated system for the excavation, removal and defusing of large pieces of munitions on the seabed. The concept consisted of three main components which were all unmanned and remote-controlled. The munition was safely grabbed by an under-water vehicle which then transported the object to the core of the system, the decommissioning unit. Once the object was inside the decommissioning unit, the detonator was safely removed by remote-controlled water-jet cutting. Afterwards, the chemicals and explosives were washed out of the object. Once that task was accomplished, the decommissioning unit was heaved onto a floating disposal platform.
As Ms Jacobs-Schleithoff explained, the system thus enabled a larger number of offshore decommissioning tasks and allowed the clearing of areas which could not have been treated with existing technologies so far because that was too expensive and too hazardous. Due to the high level of automation, no divers had to be put at risk during the operation. The decommissioning procedure allowed defusing ammunitions with active detonators, avoiding the necessity of a controlled explosion. This had a significant impact on the marine environment.
By the end of the project, the speaker said, the system concept had been successfully elaborated. A technology demonstration of the decommissioning system had been built and presented to the stakeholders on the premises of Boskalis Hirdes in Hamburg in April 2019. The second outcome of the project was a manual on monitoring the quality of offshore technology to remove ammunitions. Said manual had been published in June 2019 by the project partner University of Leipzig. In addition to that, the RoBEMM project had been accompanied by another project, UDEMM (in German “Umweltmonitoring für die Delaboration von Munition im Meer”, in English Environmental Monitoring for Removing Munitions in the Sea). The latter had been funded by the German Federal Ministry for Research and Education. This academic research had the goal of monitoring the condition of the marine environment prior to, during and after the application of the technologies developed in the RoBEMM project. UDEMM had received funding to the amount of 1.6 million euros from the German Federal Ministry for Research and Education. It had been completed in June 2019. The project’s consortium consisted of GEOMAR, the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, along with the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research as well as the University of Kiel. They developed a best practice guideline for environmental monitoring of munition dump areas.
Moving on to the perspectives and her conclusions, Ms Jacobs-Schleithoff noted that many technologies had been developed, such as those in the RoBEMM project, or are still under development and were very promising. However, she cautioned, there currently was no market offering a demand for these technologies. In her mind, this was quite surprising as the topic could turn very pressing and go viral at any moment. Ms Jacobs-Schleithoff underlined that a technology had been developed with massive public funding, but there was still no reference project to prove its performance in real time and under real conditions. In every sector, a company that wanted to sell a new technology needed a reference project to prove the capabilities and performance of their new product and finally attract customers. Since companies usually had to decide rather quickly whether they were going to add a new technology or a new product to their portfolio or not, reference projects needed to be implemented soon after the research and development phase was completed. In the case of technologies for the detection and removal of munitions in the sea, there currently was no commercial interest. Therefore, state authorities were playing a key role in the initialisation of first reference projects.
Currently, proposals requesting a total funding of 5.6 – 5.7 million euros are in the evaluation phase for the beforementioned Maritime Research Programme, headed by Ms Jacobs-Schleithoff. They were now starting to recognize the threat of ammunitions in the sea and required responsible entities in their governments as well as intensive international and national collaboration. Accordingly, she called on the parliamentarians as representatives of their states and authorities to figure out possibilities of cooperation between governments to seize this opportunity. That window of opportunity to change things was closing.
Anne Jacobs-Schleithoff, presentation on the project “Ammunition salvage in the sea”: https://www.bspc.net/mafo_projekte_munition_mail/
The members of the BSPC Standing Committee discussed the issue intensively with the experts and expressed their deep concern about the situation as well as the need for action.
Summarising the discussion, President Valerijus Simulik underlined the importance of the issue. The topic had to be mentioned in a document, he noted. Furthermore, the president thanked those who were implementing measures to solve the problem of sea-dumped ammunitions. He added his opinion that the military side should be involved, helping to find ways of resolving the issue without any explosions or damage to the environment. The president said he would like to see sea-dumped ammunitions included in the Vilnius Resolution in the following year, noting that the Lithuanian press featured a great deal of information about fishermen affected by it, as was the case in Denmark, Sweden and Poland. He underlined that it was a problem that all the countries around the Baltic Sea had to deal with. Their efforts had to be combined to take a huge step in this direction rather than each nation acting individually. As far as commercial structures were concerned, he agreed that these should be addressed and invited to take part in financing these programmes.
Follow-up to the 28th BSPC
BSPC President Valerijus Simulik emphasized the high level of both the substantive and organizational level of the 28th Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference in Oslo on 25-27 August 2019. He referred to the opening by the President of the Storting, the presentations about fundamental issues, very vivid and also partly controversial but open political debate, the back to back CBSS ministerial meeting of the ministries of Labour and the integration of their visions of the future of working life into the conference, and admitted that they were greatly admired and appreciated. The speaker draw attention of the delegates to the fact that the Conference Resolution – not only in English but also in Latvian and Russian – was available on the BSPC website, along with more than 30 presentations and speeches in a separate collection, supplementary information and other materials from the conference, including the Strategy and Work Programme 2019-2020, the updated Rules of Procedure as well as the financial report from the 28th conference in Oslo.
Working Group on Migration and Integration
BSPC President Valerijus Simulik as well as Pyry Niemi, Valentina Pivnenko and Johannes Schraps informed the committee about the group’s current work, the 7th meeting of the BSPC Working Group on Migration and Integration in combination with the European Forum on the Integration of Migrants and Refugees in Hamburg from 23-25 October 2019 and the plans for the meeting on 12 January 2020.
The next BSPC Working Group
The Standing Committee agreed in general to set up the next BSPC Working Group on the issue of climate change including related aspects and to appoint Ms Cecilie Tenfjord-Toftby to chair the new WG.
The Standing Committee discussed the current system of rapporteurs, in particular their number and content areas and decided on the following reorientation in terms of content and numbers:
Ms Saara-Sofia Sirén (Finland) and Ms Beate Schlupp (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern) will follow the deliberations of relevant HELCOM bodies as BSPC Observers in HELCOM. That includes following and reporting on the developments in the field of Eutrophication.
President of Parliament Ms Birgit Hesse (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern) will follow and report as BSPC Rapporteur on Sustainable Tourism on the developments in this field.
Jörgen Pettersson (Åland Islands) and Jochen Schulte (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern) will follow and report as co-rapporteurs on the developments in the field of Integrated Maritime Policy.
Peter Stein (German Bundestag) will follow as BSPC Rapporteur on Sea-Dumped Munitions the developments in this field as well as the implementation of the recommendations of the 28th BSPC and will give a report at the 29th BSPC in Vilnius.
Mr Pyry Niemi will continue following the development in the field of Labour Market and Social Welfare in his function as BSPC Vice-President. The sector Green Growth and Energy Efficiency will be covered by the new working group.
Further topics of the Standing Committee meeting among others included the issue of the 28th BSPC Resolution and its Follow-up, the29th BSPC in Vilnius on 22-25 August 2020, the decision not to to engage in parliamentary election observer missions and deepening the cooperation with the parliaments of the Mediterranean countries.
During a walk to some historical places in the Reichstagsbuilding, the Head of the German Bundestag delegation, Johannes Schraps shared historical details of these places with the Standing Committee participants, especially the proclamation of the first republic in Germany by Philipp Scheidemann and the end of the Second World War.