Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

Baltic Sea Action Plan

Reaching Good Environmental Status for the Baltic Sea

The HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP), adopted by the HELCOM Contracting Parties in 2007, is an ambitious and comprehensive regional programme of measures and action for a healthy marine environment. 

Since its adoption, the BSAP has resulted in a number of environmental improvements such as a reduction in nutrient inputs to the sea, a better state of biodiversity and a decrease in maritime incidents and spills.

The BSAP provides a concrete basis for HELCOM work. It incorporates the latest scientific knowledge and innovative management approaches into strategic policy implementation, and stimulates goal-oriented multilateral cooperation around the Baltic Sea region.

Although the overall goal of the current BSAP to reach good environmental status of the Baltic Sea by 2021 will not be reached, the plan has delivered unprecedent results. In 2018, the HELCOM Ministers have therefore decided to update the plan by the end of 2021 at the latest, offering the possibility to adjust it and consider previously unaddressed challenges.

The update of the BSAP incorporates an analysis of the sufficiency of measures: what works, what doesn’t, and what kind of improvements can be achieved with existing measures.

This assessment supports the identification of potential new measures, notably those tackling emerging or previously undressed challenges such as the effects of climate change, pharmaceuticals, underwater noise or disturbance to the seabed.

The BSAP is further backed by the HELCOM Nutrient Reduction Scheme, a regional approach to sharing the burden of nutrient reductions to achieve the BSAP goal of a “Baltic Sea unaffected by eutrophication”. 

The implementation status of agreed upon actions under the BSAP can be tracked here.


A healthy Baltic Sea environment, with diverse biological components functioning in balance, resulting in good environmental/ecological status and supporting a wide range of sustainable human economic and social activities.

Goals and objectives of the BSAP

Baltic Sea unaffected by eutrophication

  • Clear water
  • Natural level of algal blooms
  • Natural distribution and occurrence of plants and animals
  • Natural oxygen levels

Favourable status of Baltic Sea biodiversity

  • Natural marine and coastal landscapes
  • Thriving and balanced communities of plants and animals
  • Viable populations of species

Baltic Sea undisturbed by hazardous substances

  • Concentrations of hazardous substances close to natural levels
  • All fish are safe to eat
  • Healthy wildlife
  • Radioactivity at the pre-Chernobyl level

Environmentally friendly maritime activities

  • Enforcement of international regulations – no illegal discharges
  • Safe maritime traffic without accidental pollution
  • Efficient emergency and response capabilities
  • Minimum sewage pollution from ships
  • No introductions of alien species from ships
  • Minimum air pollution from ships
  • Zero discharges from offshore platforms
  • Minimum threats from offshore installations

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