The coordination of regional policy and application of the ecosystem-based approach in maritime spatial planning were in focus of the 15th Meeting of the joint HELCOM-VASAB Maritime Spatial Planning Working Group (HELCOM-VASAB MSP WG 15-2017), held in Warsaw, Poland, on 7-8 November 2017. Meeting participants discussed the first version of the HELCOM State of the Baltic Sea report, focusing on the approaches and results that could support MSP and be of use for maritime spatial planners. The report contains an assessment of a broad range of aspects, covering the state of the ecosystem, pressures and impacts from human activities, as well as social and economic dimensions, in the entire Baltic Sea.

One of the HELCOM-VASAB MSP group's tasks is to consider the concepts of green infrastructure and blue corridors, which serve to safeguard that the marine ecosystem remains functional outside marine protected areas as well as to connect marine protected areas to each other. The EU-funded international project PanBaltic SCOPE will focus on this issue during 2018–2019.

Furthermore, the upcoming workshop (in February 2018) on identifying Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs) in the Baltic Sea will provide information that can be directly used in developing the green infrastructure concept for MSP purposes. HELCOM made a voluntary commitment to identify these areas at the United Nations Conference "Our oceans, our future: partnering for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14" in June 2017. The HELCOM-VASAB Meeting also planned future work on themes such as safety of navigation in MSP, and discussed application of the outcomes of various regional projects in spatial planning, in particular those flagship projects of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region that relate to MSP.

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Note for editors

The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as HELCOM, is an intergovernmental organization of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union working to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution and to ensure safety of navigation in the region. Since 1974, HELCOM has been the governing body of the 'Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area', more commonly known as the Helsinki Convention.

According to the United Nations, Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) is "a public process of analyzing and allocating the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in marine areas to achieve ecological, economic, and social objectives that usually have been specified through a political process."

The HELCOM-VASAB Maritime Spatial Planning Working Group functions to ensure regional coherence of activities related to maritime spatial planning. The group, founded in 2010, is also in charge of Horizontal Action Spatial Planning within the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. 

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For more information, please contact:

Dmitry Frank-Kamenetsky
Professional Secretary
HELCOM
Tel: +358 40 630 9933
Skype: helcom68
E-mail: dmitry.frank-kamenetsky(at)helcom.fi

 

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