Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

Baltic-wide monitoring improves as HELCOM indicators develop

​​Final touches for the key set of region-wide indicators is a prominent point in this week’s of the HELCOM Working on the State of the Environment and Nature Conservation. Environmental managers and experts from all the riparian states are gathered to discuss and agree on new or improved procedures, guidelines and recommendations for regional monitoring and assessment of Baltic marine environment. Two of the suggested HELCOM core indicators are related to marine mammals: their reproductive status and nutritional status.  Photo: Anders Galatius. ​HELCOM core set of indicators, currently 25, are shared tools which help to better measure the status of the entire sea. Many of the HELCOM core indicators are about the status of different species, ranging from seals and seabirds to coastal fish and zooplankton. Other indicators concern hazardous substances, and pressures on the environment such as introduction of alien species and inputs of nutrients. The core indicators will now be given a final technical review before the HELCOM Heads of Delegation are expected to decide on them in June.  The agreed core indicators will be used as a basis for future HELCOM assessments. Furthermore, each fully developed indicator has a boundary value for Good Environmental Status (GES) defined which reflects the acceptable level of contamination. All in all, the operational indicators thus assist in constantly evaluating progress towards the agreed objectives of the Baltic Sea Action Plan and other relevant policies aiming at reaching a healthy sea by 2021.  In addition to the first batch of proposed HELCOM core set indicators, over 20 more are considered for further development to join the core set later. The State and Conservation Group meeting will also review the progress in renewal of the regional database for the coastal and marine Baltic Sea protected areas and agree on a method for the next HELCOM assessment of ecological coherence of protected areas to be carried out during this year. Moreover, clarifications are expected on the HELCOM Recommendation on conservation of Baltic Sea species categorized as threatened, whether the Contracting Parties are ready to proceed on adoption. New plans to upgrade the HELCOM work on monitoring and assessment of benthic habitats and birds are also on the agenda.  Other items in the 5-day meeting include two HELCOM Recommendations, on new procedures for notifying neighbouring countries about the use of autonomous monitoring devices in the Baltic Sea, and about the revised procedures for granting monitoring permits. Both of the recommendations, proposed for agreement, are important to facilitate monitoring and research in the Baltic Sea. These proposed procedures are part of the many results of the recently completed BALSAM Project on improving monitoring in the region, presented to the Meeting and summarized in a . The second meeting of the Working Group on the State of the Environment and Nature Conservation 11-15 May 2015 will be co-chaired by Urmas Lips, Marine Systems Institute at Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia and Penina Blankett, Ministry of the Environment of Finland. . All documents will be public after the meeting. * * * Note for editors:HELCOM Working Group on the State of the Environment and Nature Conservation () covers monitoring and assessment functions as well as issues related to nature conservation and biodiversity protection in HELCOM. The group works across the monitoring-indicators-assessment chain for the coordinated development of HELCOM thematic assessment tools, as well as coherent holistic assessment of the ecosystems health. The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as , 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. * * * For more information, please contact:Ulla Li ZweifelProfessional SecretaryHELCOMTel. +358 46 850 9198Skype: helcom64E-mail: ullali.zweifel(at) Johanna LaurilaInformation SecretaryHELCOMTel: +358 40 523 8988Skype: helcom70E-mail: johanna.laurila(at)

Final touches for the key set of region-wide indicators is a prominent point in this week’s meeting of HELCOM State & Conservation group.