In 2004, the Ministry of Environment and the Finnish Environment Institute launched a Finnish Inventory Programme for Underwater Marine Environment, entitled VELMU. The aim is to develop a detailed and complete picture of the distribution of marine habitats and species in Finnish marine waters, and gain an insight into their conservation status.
So far over 150 000 spatially explicit observations have been collected of marine habitats and species from across the entire marine waters in Finland, making this the most all-encompassing national programme for marine areas in Europe. The data have been collected through scuba diving, video methods, benthic sampling, nets, echo-sounding and remote sensing. The field data have been combined with data on environmental variables and human activities at sea to produce spatial distribution models for functionally important, rare, and threatened species.