Protection of the Arctic marine environment – Interview with Kristiina Isokallio, representative of Finland

News 2017-09-18 at 12:26

Kristiina Isokallio, Senior International Adviser at the Ministry of the Environment, deals with issues related to the protection of the Arctic marine areas in the working group on the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME). For Isokallio, September will be a busy time as Finland’s Arctic Council Chairmanship means attending meetings and workshops related to the marine environment. In this interview, Isokallio explains which issues related to the marine environment are currently on the working group’s agenda.

What is your background and how did you become Finland’s PAME representative?

Kristiina Isokallio_isompi
Kristiina Isokallio works with issues related to the protection of the Arctic marine areas

"I have worked a long time in marine protection at the Ministry of the Environment. I have been heavily involved in marine protection issues concerning Russia and the Baltic Sea in particular. Due to changes in the composition of personnel, I have also worked with other regional marine protection issues, one of which is the Arctic Council’s PAME working group."

What are the main themes that the PAME working group focuses on?

"Currently, the biggest and most important theme is protecting the marine environment from ship traffic. More than half of the issues that we are now dealing with relate to this theme. We work in close cooperation with the Finnish Transport Safety Agency in environmental issues concerning maritime transport. At the moment, current issues include risks related to the transport and use of heavy fuel oil, and the implementation of the International Maritime Organisation IMO’s Polar Code. The Polar Code is a decision on polar waters, setting out safety and environmental protection regulations for ships operating in polar waters.

Other important themes include marine protected areas, plastic waste and natural resources, particularly natural resources in the continental shelf, i.e. oil and gas. In this context, several reports have been made on the practices and safety regulations in different countries. Measures have also been taken to explore the ways of promoting safety issues."

Which aspects of your work as Finland’s PAME representative do you find the most interesting?

"This work provides wider insights into interesting Arctic issues. The work is also linked to other international and national processes and how they progress. It has been interesting to observe how well the Arctic countries can work together."

How does Finland’s Arctic Council Chairmanship reflect in your work?

"Chairmanship means, among other things, an increase in the number of meetings. In September, we will be very busy. During one week, we will have an international PAME meeting at the Ministry of the Environment and a workshop on marine protected areas and climate change at the Finnish Environment Institute. Finland will organise the workshop together with Sweden. A record number over 90 people from all the Arctic Council Member States have registered to attend the PAME meeting in particular. There will also be observers participating in the meeting. During the chairmanship we want to implement the Polar Code and the protection of the Arctic seas."

Which is your favourite of all the Arctic Council’s reports?

"My favourite report is the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment, which dates back to 2009. This report provides concrete and helpful guidelines for consistently taking forward issues related to shipping in Arctic areas."