Minister braves frigid waters in Gulf campaign

Environment Minister Ville Niinistö showed he was ready to walk the talk when it came to campaigning for preservation of the Gulf of Finland. The Minister donned a wetsuit to publicly launch the Gulf of Finland year at the Maretarium marine theme park in Kotka, southeast Finland.

Environment Minister Ville Niinistö suits ahead of his promotional dive for the Gulf of Finland. Image: Juha Korhonen / Yle

In spite of the fact that he clearly wasn’t a master of the science of diving, Environment Minister Ville Niinistö nevertheless braved the frigid waters of the Baltic pool at Kotka’s Maretarium marine park to launch the Gulf of Finland year Friday.

Although the water temperature was a mere five degrees Celsius, Niinistö professed to have enjoyed the stunt.

“It’s no problem with a wetsuit on. But it takes some time for an amateur diver like me to get used to it,” he said of the experience.

Niinistö even appeared to set aside his ministerial burdens as he even floated on his back from time to time during his dive.

“It was nice to be there at the bottom and watch the fish,” he declared.

Three countries behind Gulf of Finland year

The Gulf of Finland year is a joint campaign by Finland, Estonia and Russia aimed at improving the marine environment in the Gulf.

Niinistö said that the goal is to bring together political forces to help the Gulf and to construct a programme of joint activities, including initiatives such as reducing fertilizer run-off into the Baltic. The three countries will also increase research cooperation in a bid to better use research outcomes in decision making.

At the end of the year the three countries will adopt a Gulf of Finland declaration outlining concrete programmes for sustainable use of the Gulf. The official patrons of the campaign are the respective presidents of Finland, Estonia and Russia.