Basic facts

The coastal and marine Baltic Sea Protected Areas (HELCOM MPAs)* have been established to protect valuable marine and coastal habitats in the Baltic Sea. This is done by designating areas with particular nature values as protected areas, and by managing human activities within those areas.
The first 62 HELCOM MPAs were established in 1994, and today there are 174 HELCOM MPAs. They cover a total area of 53 642 km2, which includes both coastal and marine areas. The marine fraction of this area is 90% (48 392 km2, excluding coast and islands). Most HELCOM MPAs are situated near the shores of the Baltic Sea, and only 8 200 km​2 is situated in the open water (or the Exclusive Economic Zone). The marine area covered by HELCOM MPAs has risen from 3.9% in 2004 to 11.7% in 2013 (Figure 1).


Figure 1. The marine area protected by HELCOM MPAs has grown from 3.9% to 11.7% between 2004 and 2013. The per cent figures above the columns do not include terrestrial coastal areas and islands. Click to enlarge.

Read more about the Baltic Sea Protected Areas in the HELCOM book Pearls of the Baltic Sea.