The COMPLETE project: “Completing management options in the Baltic Sea Region to reduce risk of invasive species introduction by shipping” is a flagship project for the Baltic Sea region and applies to introduction of alien species by shipping, which is the most developed form of transport in international trade. The participation of ships in transfer of organisms and pathogens to new regions is extremely important, but there is still lack of consistent methods for monitoring of the prevalence of alien species, as well as information on national regulations, available techniques and practices in the prevention of biofouling, and cleaning of merchant ships and leisure boats, which would improve the management of these pollutants in the Baltic Sea region. The COMPLETE project involves stakeholders, including ministries of transport and environment, shipyards, marinas and sailing organizations, shipbuilding industry, Baltic ports and coastal municipalities, power stations and industrial companies using sea water. The project partners are 12 institutions from 7 Baltic countries, while the associated partners are 23 institutions from 8 countries of the Baltic Sea region.

The main goal of the COMPLETE project is developing tools and recommendations coherent for the Baltic Sea region, leading to the reduction of the introduction of alien species into the environment. In order to achieve intended goal, a number of tasks were carried out, defined in six task packages related to each other. University of Gdańsk is involved in all project activities:

WP1 – management and administration.

Membership in the Steering Committee, which monitors and supports the progress of project implementation. In addition, the University of Gdańsk is responsible for the implementation of project activities at the national level, as well as is involved in the organization of project meetings and participation in meetings arranged by project partners.

WP2 – Surveillance and monitoring program.

Participation in testing innovative molecular tools based on environmental DNA (so-called eDNA) for an early detection of harmful species and pathogens. In addition, participation in testing sampling protocol for organisms growing on leisure boats. Another activity is collection of national data on the hull overgrowth potential of both commercial ships and leisure boats and also about location of infrastructure for hull cleaning, which will be base for preparing recommendations of improvement of HELCOM monitoring manual of invasive species, as well as for maps, indicating regions exposed to introductions of new species.

WP3 – Ballast water risk assessment and management systems.

Participation in the review of criteria for the selection of key species and updating the list of these species in accordance to the harmonized HELCOM / OSPAR procedure. In addition, participation in the development and testing of a regionally harmonized early warning scheme for new harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens along with the preparation of the report on the Decision Support System (DSS) for ballast water management in the Baltic Sea, taking into account the region-specific DSS model.

WP4 – Evidence based management.

Collecting and processing data on national regulations, as well as about common and best available techniques and practices concerning hull fouling and it prevention, and also about cleaning of the offshore structures, merchant ships and leisure boats. Preparing informational products which will allow collection, summarization and evaluation of data on harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens, while taking decision on the selection of the optimal anti-fouling system and cleaning options.

WP5 – Databases and decision support for biofouling.

Collecting and processing data on the occurrence of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens introduced into coastal Polish waters and placing them in a central database, along with a regular update of the database.

WP6 – Stakeholder involvement and strategy development processes.

Establishing a network for stakeholders to cooperate with experts, and also to enable collating information from the project results to reach a proposal for a regional harmonized biofouling management system.