Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

Key message

Progress towards national targets for input of nutrients

How much is left to reach the HELCOM nutrient input targets set for a clean Baltic Sea?

These are the key results of the assessment of progress towards the national targets for nitrogen input adopted by the 2013 Copenhagen HELCOM Ministerial Declaration. The evaluation does not take into account reallocation of achieved extra reduction.

National targets for nitrogen and phosphorus inputs have been expressed as nutrient input ceilings for each country by sub-basin. (Poland accepts the Polish Country Allocated Reduction Targets as indicative due to the ongoing national consultations. Ref. Ministerial Declaration 2013, page 6, footnote 2.

Reductions still needed

Table 1. Total Nitrogen. Evaluation of input ceilings fulfilment

Based on statistically estimated inputs (scroll down for full legend)

Table 2. Total Phosphorus. Evaluation of input ceilings fulfilment

Based on statistically estimated inputs.

Colour legend

Arrows: statistically significant changes of nutrient inputs since the reference period, taking into account 95% confidence interval for both latest inputs and reference values.

significant decrease
significant increase

* Yellow, orange and red shades: input ceiling is exceeded with 95 % statistical certainty. The legend illustrates the percentage which reduction left to the target constitutes in the corresponding input ceiling value.

“Other countries” includes sources for atmospheric nitrogen deposition as the 20 EU countries not being HELCOM Contracting Parties, countries outside EU including Belarus, Ukraine, North Sea shipping etc.

MAI is the maximum allowable inputs, according to the 2013 HELCOM Ministerial Declaration.

For reviewing the input data used to evaluate fulfilment of CART and the amount of remaining reductions, please see the data page.

Key messages

Based on estimation of normalized inputs of nitrogen and phosphorus from 1995 to 2014 (Tables 1 and 2) the following conclusion can be made with high statistical certainty:

Progress towards nitrogen input targets

Fulfilment of input ceilings:

  • Denmark is the only country that have fulfilled nitrogen ceilings to all HELCOM sub-basins.
  • Finland and Sweden met their nitrogen ceilings to all HELCOM basins except to the Baltic Proper and the Gulf of Finland where missing reduction is less than 10% of the input ceilings for these countries.
  • Russia exceeded their ceilings to all sub-basins.
  • Total nitrogen inputs to Bothnian Sea, Bothnian Bay, Danish Straits and Kattegat were below the MAIs for these sub-basins. The countries which did not fulfilled their ceilings for these sub-basins have only minor airborne inputs.
  • Atmospheric nitrogen inputs from Baltic Sea shipping and Non-HELCOM countries exceeded their target values to all sub-basins.

Changes of inputs:

  • The assessment indicates statistically significant reduction of nitrogen inputs into all sub-basins since the reference period (1997-2003) except the Gulf of Finland and Gulf of Riga where changes are not statistically significant.
  • Denmark, Germany and Poland reduced their total nitrogen inputs to all HELCOM sub-basins.
  • Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Sweden reduced their total nitrogen inputs to several sub-basins and had no statistical changes of inputs to the remaining ones.
  • Russia and Ukraine increased inputs to the Baltic Proper.
  • Non-HELCOM countries demonstrate reduction of airborne total nitrogen inputs to all HELCOM sub-basins.

Progress towards phosphorus input targets

Fulfilment of input ceilings:

  • There was not a single country fulfilling input ceiling for phosphorus to all HELCOM sub-basins.
  • All HELCOM countries and non-HELCOM countries with waterborne inputs exceeded input ceilings for the Baltic Proper.
  • Two of three countries, which contribute to the input to the Gulf of Finland, also exceeded their ceilings. Fulfilment of the input ceiling by Russia cannot be judged unambiguously due to uncertainty caused by variability of the assessment data. This also holds true for the Russian P inputs to Gulf of Riga.
  • Latvia, Poland, Czech Republic and Ukraine exceeded their ceilings to the sub-basins to which they have inputs.
  • All countries fulfilled national ceilings for total phosphorus inputs to Danish Straits and Kattegat.

Changes of inputs:

  • High uncertainty due to large variability of the data prevents identification of statistically significant changes of phosphorus input since the reference period (1997-2003) for more than 50% of the sub-basins. Most of the sub-basins do not demonstrate any significant changes.
  • Russia and Ukraine increased inputs to the Baltic Proper.
  • Lithuania was the only country that reduced total phosphorus inputs to all sub-basins to which it contributes.

Revision of time series

The whole time series (1995-2014) of nitrogen and phosphorus input have been reviewed since the last assessment (2015). It resulted in an overall increase of estimated inputs to the Baltic Sea and to some sub-basins in the reference period. One of the consequences is that the commitment to reach good environmental status of the Baltic Sea requires a larger reduction than the CART agreed on in MD 2013.