Assessing the state of the Baltic Sea

HELCOM Contracting Parties have been monitoring the state of the Baltic Sea jointly for decades. ​This extensive amount of data shows how the marine environment has changed over time.

A Second Holistic Assessment covering the years 20102015 was published mid-2017. The findings are available on a dedicated website at and as a PDF report.

The HELCOM Initial Holistic Assessment of 2010 (PDF, 3.3 MB) provided the first ecosystem health assessment of the entire Baltic Sea, also providing information on the associated benefits and costs to society. The assessment was based on data for the years 20032007.

The 2010 holistic assessment showed that none of the open-water basins are in a good environmental state:

  • Most sub-basins are negatively affected by eutrophication, hazardous substances and the conservation of species is unfavourable.
  • The human communities linked to the sea have been negatively affected by the deteriorated state of the Baltic Sea.
  • Given the current impaired status of ecosystem health, the pressures from agriculture, fisheries, industries, the maritime sector as well as from communities​​ need to be effectively managed.

Ecosystem Health of the Baltic Sea Hazardous substances in the Baltic Sea Biodiversity in the Baltic Sea Eutrophication in the Baltic Sea Maritime Activities in the Baltic Sea Eutrophication Biodiversity Hazardous substances Environment Fact Sheets Image Map

HELCOM monitors the trends of the marine environment and how the environment responds to management actions. The trends are followed under the four thematic sections of the Baltic Sea Action Plan: Biodiversity, Eutrophication, Hazardous substances and Maritime activities. Commonly agreed indicators are regularly updated to periodically produce thematic and holistic assessments. 


​Phosphorus inputs via water ways (Baltic proper). Peak year was 1981.