Seashore and waves

Finnish-Estonian case: Gulf of Finland

Case description

The case study area consists of a maritime corridor in the Finnish Gulf between the cities of Tallinn and Helsinki. More specifically, the northern end of the area comprises the historical area of Old Helsinki (modern Helsinki and parts of Sipoo and Espoo) and the southern end is bordered by the Tallinn Bay (administrative borders of Tallinn), Naissaar and Aegna Islands.

Cultural heritage sites in this area include shipwrecks from different periods, historical harbours of Tallinn bay, historical sea routes between Tallinn and Helsinki, the fortresses in Tallinn (Toompea) and Helsinki (Suomenlinna World Heritage Sea Fortress). In the Helsinki Underwater Park with the shipwreck Kronprins Gustav Adolf the Helsinki maritime cultural lanscape is already presented to the public.

The purpose of adding this case to the project is to achieve a more sustainable inclusion of the maritime cultural heritage (MCH) of Tallinn and Helsinki coastal areas to the maritime spatial planning (MSP) of this region. The water area between Tallinn and Helsinki form a unique seascape that has been in intensive use as a water route for many centuries. The combination of historical and natural sites, and a rapid contemporary development of local real estate and infrastructure need deeper analysis from socio-economic perspective to find more relevant planning solutions.


PP7_EE_FIN_map case description.jpg


  • list and analyse relevant legislation concerning (M)CH in Estonia and Finland;
  • require information from different groups of stakeholders (e.g. fishers, divers, entrepreneurs) to assess socio-economic benefits derived from heritage sites;
  • map with several layers of different types of objects will be compiled: cultural heritage objects, historical travel routes, modern travel routes, and natural formations;
  • address (possible) conflicts and issues that rise with different areas of activity (business, shipping, fishing, waste management, recreation).

Main theoretical approaches:

Cultural ecosystem services based Blue Growth; different cultural landscape approaches; ecosystem-based sustainable management.


The outputs of the work are mapping priority areas for MCH and MSP; evaluate MCH vulnerability;  develop Maritime Cultural Heritage impact assessment strategy for MSP; status report on socio-economic aspects in analysed pilot areas; status report on pilot cooperation management show cases; status reports will be spread to regional and municipal planning, MCH agencies and private (touristic) entities.

Main results:

  • A number of environmental and cultural data was collected and added in a joint table with all underwater culturally valuable objects (wrecks and other underwater sites). Both Finnish and Estonian data was added. It is possible to make theme maps for future purposs based on the collected data.
  • A questionnaire for hobby divers was conducted in Finland and in Estonia (questionnaire was compiled by Metsähallitus and translated into Estonian and conducted in Estonia by National Heritage Board of Estonia). It was investigated what kind of infrastructure divers need in diving sites and also the names of popular diving sites were found out both in Estonia and in Finland.
  • In Estonia National Heritage Board of Estonia arranged a seminar for divers (November 16, 2019), where Estonian hobby divers were introduced the new maritime spatial plan, but also the results of the divers’ questionnaire in both countries. Some interesting topics concerning diving were also touched, such as explosives under water and sonar scanning of the surface of the Baltic Sea by Estonian Maritime Administration.
  • New wrecks were discovered both in Estonian and in the Finnish side during the project time. Tallinn Bay has a wreck preservation area, where two shipwrecks have been taken during the project time. One wreck was taken there earlier, so the preservation area near the island of Aegna now has 3 wrecks in it. This area has a great touristic potential because of good diving conditions.
  • In April 2019 an expert round table workshop was conducted to discuss the project topics and the case study area, as well. Experts were from all Baltic Sea Region countries, including Sweden, Latvia and Norway that are not members of the BalticRIM project.
  • North Estonia and Southern Finland, including the case study area, possess enormous touristic potential when its history is concerned. Finland and Estonia have had a connection network already from the ancient period, and several archaeological objects that mark an ancient coast are an evident of that in both shores. In later times, several historical maps and archival documents speak of tight commercial, but also other types of relations (e.g. military). All this could be used for touristic purposes in the city space, but also in ships that are going between the two countries.
  • On the Finnish side, the wreck of the Swedish ship of the line, Kronprins Gustav Adolf, which sank in 1788 in front of Suomenlinna in Helsinki, can be used as a material for the study of socio-economic benefits. The wreck was established as a dive park in 2000. It is maintained by the Finnish Heritage Agency and the city of Helsinki. The site is visited each year by dozens of divers and it is also used by the local dive guides and instructors as a training site for new divers.
  • The Suomenlinna maritime fortress in front of Helsinki is a UNESCO world heritage site and dozens of wrecks rest in its waters. In the last 20 years visitor numbers in Suomenlinna have risen from 600 000 visitors to over a million visitors per year. The majority are international travellers, who are drawn to the fortress by the maritime location, sights and history. The fortress is also a district of the Helsinki city with people living and working in the historical buildings. The managing body of Suomenlinna monitors the site to ensure sustainable development of tourism.
  • The city of Helsinki has written a maritime strategy towards 2030. The FHA has met with the coordinator of the strategy as well as the intendant of cultural environment of Helsinki to discuss how maritime cultural heritage can be a part of the city’s maritime strategy. The strategy states that Helsinki nurtures its maritime cultural heritage.

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