Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

Manuals and Guidelines

Manual on Co-Operation in Response to Maritime Pollution

The HELCOM Manual on Co-operation in Response to Marine Pollution (HELCOM Response Manual) is applied by the Baltic Sea countries in operational co-operation, surveillance activities and response exercises since 1983.

In March 2021 HELCOM 42-2021 adopted the revised HELCOM Response Manual. The revised Response Manual combines the previous Volume 1 regarding oil response to pollution incidents mostly at sea and Volume 3 which concentrates on response on the shore. The previous Volume 2, replaced by the Multi-regional Marine HNS Response Manual, which was also adopted by HELCOM 42-2021, describes response to accidents at sea involving spills of hazardous substances (see below).

According to the Helsinki Convention the Contracting Parties shall agree bi- or multilaterally on those regions of the Baltic Sea, in which they act together. This is to maintain ability to respond to spillages of oil and other harmful substances as effectively as possible. The Response Manual should be used as guidance and help for bi- and multilateral co-operation and participation in joint actions.

The Response Manual is intended for Response Commanders and Supreme On-Scene Commanders leading the multinational response operations at sea and on the shore. It is also meant for personnel participating in the multinational response operations and for authorities dealing with national contingency planning and strategic development.

Multi-regional Marine HNS Response Manual

In March 2021 HELCOM 42-2021 adopted the multi-regional Marine HNS Response Manual (Bonn Agreement, HELCOM, REMPEC). The new HNS Response Manual will replace Volume 2 of the Manual on Co-operation in Response to Maritime Pollution (HELCOM Response Manual), which dealt with co-operation in case of spillage of chemicals. The HNS Manual was developed within the framework of the DG ECHO funded WestMOPoCo project. The objective of the HNS Manual is to provide operational guidance for first responders and decision-makers during a maritime incident at sea or in port involving HNS.

Aerial Surveillance Reporting

The purpose of aerial surveillance over the Baltic Sea area is to detect and register spills of oil and other harmful substances which can threaten the marine environment. An annual statistic is prepared by the HELCOM Expert Group on Aerial Surveillance (EG Surveillance). The Contracting Parties will report on their entire annual surveillance activity during flights over their Exclusive Economic Zone in the reporting year using the HELCOM/Bonn Agreement Annual Surveillance Reporting Format (Excel) and Guidance. Observations obtained during flights outside a Contracting Party’s responsibility zone, including Coordinated Extended Pollution Control Operation (CEPCO) Flights, should be reported with a commonly agreed Standard Pollution Reporting Format (Excel) and Completion Guide to the country and organization responsible for the area. Contacts should be used in accordance with Chapter 1. Information by the Contracting Parties of the HELCOM Response Manual (or in accordance with special agreements e.g. CEPCOs). The country and organization responsible for the area should be the one that reports the data to the HELCOM Secretariat.

Guidelines and Reporting Form for the Disposal of Dredged Material at Sea

The Guidelines and Reporting Form for the Disposal of Dredged Material at Sea were adopted by the 21st Meeting of the Heads of Delegation (June 2007) as authorized by the 28th Meeting of the Helsinki Commission (March 2007) with the intention to start the re-evaluation in 2007. Contracting Parties are obliged to apply these guidelines in their authorisation or regulation procedures for dredged material. However, the guidelines also contain recommendations that will not be applicable in all national or local circumstances.

The Project on Suitable Management of Contaminated Sediments (SMOCS) contributes to the revision of HELCOM guidelines on prevention of pollution of the Baltic Sea from dredging operations with, e.g., dissemination of information on best practices for both dredging methods and disposal options, as well as various ways of beneficial use of dredged material.

ENPRO Manual

Manual on prosecuting environmental crime in the Baltic Sea region is written by member states of the Network of Prosecutors on Environmental Crime (ENPRO). It is meant to serve as a handbook for prosecutors and other authorities who work at environmental crime and need information about the judicial systems and legislation of the other member states of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS). ​

For more HELCOM Manuals and Guidelines please follow this link.