Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

Background of HELCOM MPAs

Objectives of HELCOM MPAs

Photo: Carlos Minguell/OCEANA

The first coastal and marine Baltic Sea protected areas (HELCOM MPA​s)* were established in 1994, following the adoption of the 1992 Helsinki Convention. Article 15 of the Helsinki Convention requires Contracting Parties to take all appropriate measures to conserve natural habitats and biological diversity in the Baltic Sea (HELCOM 1992). To further implement Article 15, HELCOM Recommendation 15/5 “System of coastal and marine Baltic Sea protected areas (BSPAs)” was issued in 1994. In Recommendation 15/5 HELCOM agreed on guidelines and criteria for HELCOM MPAs as presented in the box below.

HELCOM Recommendation 15/5 was renewed in 2014 and is now superseded by the HELCOM Recommendation 35/1 “System of coastal and marine Baltic Sea protected areas (HELCOM MPA​s)”. The main focus of the new recommendation is on improving the management and ecological coherence of the network of MPAs in the Baltic Sea. The new recommendation also emphasizes the importance of modernizing the HELCOM MPA database and introduces the new acronym HELCOM MPAs (previously known as BSPAs).

* former BSPAs