Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

 

Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

HELCOM expert interview: Heini Ahtiainen on Economic and Social Analysis (ESA)

Heini Ahtiainen is a project researcher on Economic and Social Analyses at the HELCOM Secretariat and project coordinator of the ACTION projectQuestion: What has economic and social analysis (ESA) to do with the flounder? Or: why has ESA become prevalent in HELCOM work?Heini Ahtiainen: In order to better comprehend the pressures on the Baltic, and how we can achieve good environmental status for our sea, we also need to understand the behaviour and actions of people. We get a lot out of the sea, but our activities can have damaging impacts on the marine environment. Often, the economic and social cost of this damage is not assessed. This is where ESA comes in: it reveals the cost of the environmental degradation. It also quantifies the benefits us humans could gain from a sea in a healthy state. Why should environmental benefits be quantified?When expressed in monetary terms, the environmental benefits of a healthy sea become comparable to any other economic activity. This helps to put things into perspective, especially when developing policies that also concern the marine environment, for instance in maritime spatial planning, where previous priorities were sometimes detrimental to the marine environment. How can ESA guide environmental policy-making?When developing measures to improve the marine environment, ESA can provide a good indication on the least cost way of achieving good environmental status. These cost-effectiveness analyses can greatly help to prioritize measures, to see what actions yield the highest results at low or reasonable financial effort. These are the measures most likely to succeed because they are the most implementable.What about the ecosystem-based approach?ESA is an integral part of the ecosystem-based approach. It shows the linkages between human activities, the environmental status of the sea, and human wellbeing. ESA also helps to highlight the ecosystem services provided by the sea that have a value – both economic, social and cultural – for us humans. Fish stocks for fisheries, or an attractive seascape for recreational activities are good examples.How is HELCOM involved in ESA work?HELCOM recently concluded a major assessment of the Baltic Sea, with the results published in the . For the first time, the economic and social contribution of the Baltic Sea to our economies and well-being was analysed comprehensively. The report also contains an analysis of the cost of degradation: benefits lost if GES not attained. HELCOM is also involved in an EU-funded project on maritime spatial planning in the region, . There, among other activities, we are collecting information on the impacts of marine spatial planning on economic, social and ecosystem services. HELCOM also runs an comprised of members from all Contracting Parties. Last but not least, the recently launched EU-funded that is led by HELCOM will develop ESA approaches for the update of the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP).Speaking of… What has ESA to do with the BSAP update?ESA contributes directly to the analysis of sufficiency of measures (SOM). It helps to see if good status is achievable with existing measures. For the update of the BSAP, it will be crucial to know what previous and current measures yielded what results, and at what cost. For potential new measures, cost-effectiveness analyses will help us to identify those which make most sense. The cheaper and more effective the measure, the better for attaining the ecological objectives of the BSAP.  

Heini Ahtiainen is a project researcher on Economic and Social Analyses at the HELCOM Secretariat Question: What has economic and social analysis (ESA) to do with the flounder? Or: why has ESA become prevalent in HELCOM work?

​HELCOM State of the Baltic Sea report: despite improvements, the Baltic Sea is not yet in a good state

The recently updated HELCOM State of the Baltic Sea report is now , providing a complete insight about the ecological state of the Baltic Sea and the pressures affecting it. Overall, despite improvements, the sea is not yet in a good state, with eutrophication causing the major stress.Approved by all , the report is based on verified scientific evidence stemming from a recently concluded HELCOM assessment – the , or HOLAS II. It is the most comprehensive baseline currently available on the Baltic Sea.”The report holds a wealth of information about the ecological state of the Baltic Sea and the pressures affecting it, making it an important knowledge and decision-making tool for environmental policy makers, researchers and Baltic Sea stakeholders such as industries and businesses,” said Lena Bergström, the HELCOM HOLAS II Project Coordinator who led the publication of the report.For the first time, economic and social analyses (ESA) and the evaluation of cumulative impacts have also been included in the assessment, to help quantifying the benefits we get from the sea and the economic losses due to inadequate ecological status. “We gain a lot from the Baltic Sea: food, jobs, recreational activities among others. But the report also shows that our actions have a big impact on the ecological state of the sea,” said Bergström, further stressing on the correlation of healthy Baltic Sea resources and human welfare.According to the report, improvements are seen in the reduction of inputs of nutrients and hazardous substances into the Baltic Sea. The progress made so far shows that concerted Baltic Sea regional collaboration leads to tangible results.However, the ecological objectives set by the  seeking to attain a healthy Baltic Sea by 2021 have not yet been attained.The major pressure on the Baltic Sea remains eutrophication, affecting 97 percent of the waterbody. The current total losses attributed to eutrophication – excessive growth of algae that upsets the sea’s ecosystem – are estimated to be in the range of EUR 3.8 to 4.4 billion annually for the region.Plastic pollution – especially from microplastics –, pharmaceutical residues, underwater noise and effects from climate change are some of the current additional pressures.The report also finds that the Baltic Sea’s biodiversity is not in a good state. Fish stocks, marine habitats and mammals such as the harbour porpoise and the ringed seal are particularly affected.More actions are needed to improve the Baltic Sea’s environmental status. “It is very clear what needs to be done,” and who chaired the HOLAS II Core Team, the international HELCOM group preparing the report. “We need to work on implementing the Baltic Sea Action Plan and the further actions that have been agreed upon in the .”The  (BSAP) is the region’s strategic tool to attain a healthy Baltic Sea by 2021, focussing primarily on eutrophication, hazardous substances, biodiversity and maritime activities. Essentially based on the findings of the report, efforts are currently underway to update the BSAP beyond its due date in 2021. Go to the report:   — For immediate releaseFor more information, please contact:Dominik LittfassCommunication Secretarymedia(at)helcom.fi 

The recently updated HELCOM State of the Baltic Sea report is now publicly available, providing a complete insight about the ecological state of the Baltic Sea and the pressures affecting it. Despite improvements, the sea is not yet in a good state.

State of the Baltic Sea: Interview with Maria Laamanen

 Maria Laamanen is the Head of the Finnish Delegation to HELCOM and works at the Finnish Ministry of the Environment. She answers questions about the process that led to the report.What was your involvement in the State of the Baltic Sea report?I was the chair of the Core Group, which was kind of a steering group for developing the second holistic assessment. What were the main reasons for making the report?HELCOM published its first holistic assessment in 2010 and there was an agreement that there should be another holistic assessment to follow up on the state of the Baltic Sea and effectiveness of . Those contracting parties that are EU members needed this second holistic assessment for implementation of the . Can you tell us more about the process of making the report, how it came together?We started in the end of 2015. When you start a new project, it tends to be at first a little bit chaotic. I think it took one or two meetings that we got a better idea where we are aiming at and how to do it. We had quite lengthy discussions in what areas we are going to address for example relating to the Kattegat and how we should address different themes on the report. We had the example of the first holistic assessment as a basis of our work and the themes of the state of the Baltic Sea Action Plan gave the basic structure to the report. In addition, we decided to go deeper in to the theme of socio-economics of protecting the Baltic Sea because it was important to be able to show what the economic value of the Baltic Sea is and how it relates to a cost of protecting the Baltic Sea. We also improved some of the methods and tools we had, worked on further developing some and worked on the index that we use for assessing cumulative pressures on the sea. We got support from the EU that made it possible to conduct supporting projects for making the State of the Baltic Sea report. During the project, a number of thematic reports were developed, and indicators and data were updated. All of that is published but not all of it is dealt with in detail within the since there is so much material and the report aims to provide an overview. The report pulls together much of the relevant research that has been done and puts it in a simpler form to present it in an understandable fashion. If someone wants to go deeper than the report, one should go to read the thematic reports and check the data from the project.All in all, I am very proud of the report and the wide coverage of issues HELCOM achieved with it.What are the key findings and main outcomes?The State of the Baltic Sea report shows the status of the Baltic Sea in 2011—2016. It shows that we still have not reached an overall good status of the Baltic Sea. Our main challenges relate to eutrophication and changes in biodiversity that partly stem from the harm that eutrophication causes as well as pressures such as changes in fishing and variability in climate. On the other hand, we are going toward better status in many aspects. HOLAS II report trend graphs show for example that we have been able to decrease our loads of phosphorus and nitrogen. From the 1980s—1990s the phosphorus load has been cut by more than half and nitrogen load has been cut by almost a third.In addition, in terms of hazardous substances the situation is getting much better. To some extend our graphs may give a darker view of where we stand with hazardous substances because the criteria are rather tough and if even one indicator which has lower status than the standard for good status is sufficient to yield an overall assessment of the theme as non-good.We have also compiled information about marine litter. However, we have not been able to make assessments of whether the status is good or not because we have not agreed on the technical details of what is the standard for a good status yet.What needs to be done now? How can we achieve a good environmental status for the Baltic Sea?It is very clear what needs to be done: We need to work on implementing the Baltic Sea Action Plan and the further actions that have been agreed in HELCOM ministerial meetings, most recently in March of 2018.Due to some ecosystem related lags in the Baltic Sea, it is clear that we cannot reach a good status on all aspects of the environment by 2021, which is the target year of the Baltic Sea Action Plan. Nevertheless, we have three more years to go to 2021 and we need to use those years well and implement the agreed actions to make the status of the Baltic Sea as good as possible. After that an updated action plan which was agreed to be drafted by HELCOM Ministerial Meeting 2018 should ensure that we reached the good status by 2030.How will the results of the report affect the update of the Baltic Sea Action Plan?The report provides us the baseline information on the status of the Baltic Sea and tells us what are the pressures affecting the status. Wherever we have a non-good status, we need to look in the causes: what pressures we need to address with our measures and where are we with our implementation. After that, we can look into what updated or new measures we might need.The report does not give any specific measures but it points out what is important. For example, it points out that it is crucial that we reach nutrient load reduction targets that we have agreed upon in HELCOM. It is also very important that we enhance cross-sectoral aspects in sectors such as shipping and agriculture. It is important that there is coordination, coherence and cross reading between the different sectors.How will the outcomes affect future actions of HELCOM?Through the updated Baltic Sea Action Plan, for which the report serves as a basis. Through the report, we also have a very detailed and shared view on what the good status of the Baltic Sea means. We have quantified for very detailed technical aspects of the sea what is good and non-good and we have indicators for follow-up. I think that is great starting point. To my knowledge, no other international sea in the world has that. The report can offer an example how international cooperation can provide good knowledge of the state of the sea.What are the implications for the Finnish chairmanship?We have identified the updating of the Baltic Sea Action Plan as our . The State of the Baltic Sea report is very important to us, since it works as a basis for that work.The interview was conducted by Alisa Vänttinen from the Finnish Ministry of the Environment.

Maria Laamanen is the Head of the Finnish Delegation to HELCOM and works at the Finnish Ministry of the Environment. She answers questions about the process that led to the State of the Baltic Sea report.

First version of the HELCOM ‘State of the Baltic Sea’ report is now available

​The comprehensive HELCOM overview of the state of the Baltic Sea follows up on the status of the Baltic Sea environment, saying that management is improving but that the environmental objectives of the Baltic Sea Action Plan will not be reached in time.The ‘State of the Baltic Sea’ assessment, now made available as a first version for consideration, is an outcome of a large scale collaboration among Baltic Sea countries. It provides a scientific evaluation of the environmental status of the Baltic Sea during 2011-2015, and assesses pressures and impacts from human activities, as well as social and economic dimensions, in the entire Baltic Sea.The summary report, and its underlying material, can be accessed via its . The next step will be to subject it to a regional consultation carried out by HELCOM. The final report will be published by June 2018, and will include one additional year of monitoring data.The assessment is based on an extensive set of materials, including the HELCOM core indicators and Baltic-wide maps, covering aspects such as eutrophication, contamination, marine litter, underwater noise, fishing, hunting, and effects of habitat loss. The assessment of benthic and pelagic habitats, fish, marine mammals, and birds indicate that biodiversity status is inadequate for most assessed species, and that continued efforts to support biodiversity are of key importance.The results are made available for use in analysing progress in relation to the goals of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan, namely: to achieve a good environmental status in the Baltic Sea. They will also provide background for negotiations in the next HELCOM Ministerial Meeting to take place on 6 March 2018 in Brussels under the European Union chairmanship of HELCOM.Additionally, the assessment results are available for national consultation in EU Member states, forming a regional umbrella report for reporting under the EU Marine Strategy Framework directive. The assessment can also provide a baseline for future work to reach UN Sustainable Development Goals.The ‘State of the Baltic Sea’ is a regionally coordinated assessment and a major undertaking of all Baltic Sea countries as well as the European Union. The results are the outcome of the committed work of HELCOM experts and national representatives, whom have developed and worked to improve a regionally agreed on monitoring and assessment system, used as a shared knowledge base for developing Baltic Sea environmental management.The results and materials underlying the assessment can be accessed at .* * *Note for editors:The State of the Baltic Sea assessment is carried out by the  (2014–18). The project develops common concepts and methods for the status assessment based on core indicators, creates and tests the tools for aggregated results, and performs assessments at a regional scale. The development of the assessment methods is supported by other projects, including a number of EU-co-financed projects.HELCOM is an intergovernmental organization made up of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union. Founded in 1974, its primary aims as a governing body are to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution, as well as to ensure safe maritime navigation. The official name of HELCOM is the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission; it is the governing body of the .HELCOM Heads of Delegation, nominated by the Contracting Parties to the Helsinki Convention, which are the nine Baltic coastal states as well as the EU, usually meet twice a year. The highest decision-making body of HELCOM, the Annual Meeting, convenes usually in March. Approximately every three years the Commission meets at .* * *For more information, please contact:Lena BergströmHOLAS II Project CoordinatorHELCOME-mail: lena.bergstrom(at)helcom.fiTel: +358 40 080 3428Jannica HaldinProfessional Secretary for Gear and State and Conservation groupsHELCOME-mail: jannica.haldin(at)helcom.fiTel: +358 40 485 5905​​

The comprehensive HELCOM overview of the state of the Baltic Sea follows up on the status of the Baltic Sea environment, saying that management is improving but that the environmental objectives of the Baltic Sea Action Plan will not be reached in time.

HELCOM to develop regional economic and social analyses on the marine environment

​HELCOM members are promoting further regional
development of economic and social analyses (ESA) to show the linkages between
society and the marine environment, with focus on how the Baltic Sea
contributes to human well-being and national economies. These analyses provide
tools for examining the economic impacts from the use of marine waters, and the
benefits of achieving a healthy marine ecosystem. HELCOM has established an expert network on economic
and social analyses, which will enhance regional cooperation on the economic
and social aspects of the Baltic Sea marine environment. The expert network
serves as a platform for discussion and information exchange on the ongoing and
planned work and develops and agrees on regional approaches for the economic
and social analyses, according to a HELCOM Roadmap on economic and social
analyses. The analyses are needed for the implementation of the Baltic Sea
Action Plan, as well as Marine Strategy Framework Directive for the EU
countries in the region. Overall, the analyses will contribute to
ecosystem-based marine management, marine spatial planning, pollution
mitigation, and integration and implementation of various policies.Results
on the economic contribution from marine activities in the Baltic Sea and on the
economic damages to citizens from the deterioration of the marine environment
will be included in HELCOM’s ‘State of the Baltic Sea’ report, to be published
in June 2017.  HELCOM and the BONUS BALTICAPP research project are
organizing a in Stockholm 29-30 March, with economic and social
analyses of the marine environment as one of the main themes. The workshop will
present latest results on the contribution from the use of marine waters to the
economy, the losses in citizens’ well-being from the deterioration of the
marine environment, and marine ecosystem services, such as recreation. The
workshop will discuss challenges, gaps of knowledge and solutions in providing
science-based information based for the implementation of marine policies.Further information on the work on economic and social
analyses can be found on the .More information about the BONUS BALTICAPP project can
be found on the .***Note for editors
HELCOM is one of the Regional Sea Conventions and
Action Plans around the world, working for healthy oceans and sustainable us of
marine resources. HELCOM consists 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. The BONUS BALTICAPP project (Wellbeing from the Baltic
Sea – applications combining natural science and economics) uses state-of-the-art
modelling tools and data to identify strategies to safeguard ecosystem services
provided by the Baltic Sea.***For more information, please contact:Heini Ahtiainen
Project Researcher
HELCOM
Tel. +358
40 621 3612
Skype: heini_ahtiainen
Email: Heini.Ahtiainen(at)helcom.fi

HELCOM members are promoting further regional development of economic and social analyses (ESA) to show the linkages between society and the marine environment, with focus on how the Baltic Sea contributes to human well-being and national economies.

HELCOM delegates discuss the key Baltic Sea goals of 2017

​​​​​​​Greenlighting key tools and indicators for State of the Baltic Sea report a major topic in HELCOM Heads of Delegation meeting this week High-level segment on ocean-related Sustainable Development Goals to take place on 28 February 2017   Delegations representing all Baltic coastal states as well as the EU this week at HELCOM headquarters to discuss and decide on the best measures for improving the Baltic marine environment. HELCOM holistic assessment 2017, a major discussion point by HELCOM delegates this week, will also rely on the upgraded tools to assess the themes of biodiversity, hazardous substances and eutrophication. Photo: Metsähallitus NHS/Niina Kurikka.The meeting participants will face major decisions required for completing HELCOM State of the Baltic Sea report (), first results due in mid-2017. Draft Recommendations on sewage sludge and conservation of underwater biotopes and habitats are expecting agreement. The 2-day meeting will also discuss the final plans for the HELCOM high-level segment on ocean-related Sustainable Development Goals, taking place on 28 February 2017.The delegates, observers and other stakeholders attending the meeting in Helsinki, Finland will seek final unanimity for few main components of the State of the Baltic Sea report (HOLAS II, full name: Second Holistic Assessment of the Ecosystem Health of the Baltic Sea). The final shape of used for the assessment must now be agreed on. The holistic assessment will also rely on the upgraded tools to assess the themes of biodiversity, hazardous substances and eutrophication, improved since the previous Holistic Assessment of 2010, and two of them are expecting final blessings from the delegations this week.One of the many HELCOM outcomes from the past six months include the thoroughly revised HELCOM Response Manual Vol III to Pollution Incidents on the , which the delegates are invited to endorse. Moreover, an agreement is expected on a regional implementation plan for the IMO Water Management Convention, entering into force globally in September next year. Compilations of pollution load data () have been an integral part of HELCOM assessment system since 1987. The next edition, PLC-7, is expecting approval for being prepared by 2020 and covering the data from 1995 until 2017. HELCOM will host a high-level as a part of its Annual Meeting in the end of February 2017 and the agenda will now be discussed. The session will focus on how to achieve ocean-related UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the Baltic Sea and progress in addressing the regional environmental challenges. The many aligning targets and goals of the UN and HELCOM are the underlying factor for the session. HELCOM is one of 18 Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans in the world working together under the umbrella of UNEP and instrumental in the work on SDGs.The 51st Meeting of the Heads of Delegation will be held on 14-15 December 2016 in Helsinki, Finland and chaired by HELCOM Chair Ms Marianne Wenning, DG Environment, European Union. . All documents will be public after the meeting. * * * Note for editors:An update on the overall state of ecosystem health in the Baltic Sea is underway. Improved tools as well as more comprehensive approaches will be applied in the State of the Baltic Sea report (full name: Second Holistic Assessment of Ecosystem Health in the Baltic Sea, ). This major assessment will assist the region’s environmental managers and decision-makers who are to base their work on sound, up-to-date knowledge of the status of the sea. The State of the Baltic Sea report will develop common concepts and methods for the status assessment based on core indicators; create and test the tools for aggregated results and, finally, perform assessments at a regional scale. Importantly, the assessment will also include a socio-economic analysis, about the costs of a deteriorating marine environment, as well as a selection of optimal measures for improving the status of the sea. The first results will be released in mid-2017 and updated during the following 12 months. * * * HELCOM Heads of Delegation, nominated by the to the Helsinki Convention which are the nine Baltic coastal states as well as the EU, usually meet twice a year. The highest decision-making body of HELCOM, Annual Meeting, convenes usually in March. * * * 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:Johanna Laurila Information Secretary HELCOM Tel: +358 40 523 8988 Skype: helcom70 E-mail: johanna.laurila(at)helcom.fi​

Greenlighting key tools and indicators for State of the Baltic Sea report a major issue in HELCOM Heads of Delegation meeting this week.

Does it pay off to protect the Baltic Sea?

​​​​Finding out the economic damages of a deteriorating state of the Baltic Sea is a key task for HELCOM experts this winter, as a part of the holistic due to release in mid-2017. The actions to prevent pollution will likely involve expenses – however the price of a polluted marine environment may be high. The HELCOM workshop this week in Tallinn, Estonia, continued​ ​​​to analyze the benefits of a healthy and thriving Baltic marine environment with a particular focus on examining the cost of degradation. Analyzing the socioeconomic impacts to the health of the Baltic Sea connects two components: the use of marine waters, expected to bring in profits, and the cost of degradation.​ Photo: Maritime Office in GdyniaThe cost of degradation is defined as the consequences to human well-being from the degradation of the marine environment.  It can be assessed based on the benefits forgone or damages resulting from not achieving good environmental status (GES). The workshop discusses the best approach for such estimation – making best use of quantitative and qualitative methods. The HELCOM holistic assessment on the state of and pressures on the Baltic Sea () will be a comprehensive compilation evaluating the overall state of ecosystem health in the Baltic Sea. The first assessment results will be released in June 2017 and the report will be finalized by mid-2018. The process to analyze the socioeconomic impacts of changes in the state of the Baltic Sea connects two components: the use of marine waters, expected to bring in profits, and the cost of degradation. Various national assessments have been performed but a shared evaluation from a regional viewpoint is still missing. The current HELCOM task is to develop a framework and pave way for such a regional analysis. The estimates for the cost of degradation are the most advanced for eutrophication, as there are national estimates in place for each nine coastal country. More indicative evaluations – for instance for biodiversity, food webs and non-indigenous species – can be used to illustrate what is at stake if the state of the Baltic Sea does not improve. In addition, economic indicators are under development which will illustrate the economic importance of the marine environment as well as sectors depending on it. A major intention is to perform the economic analyses together with the assessment of pressures from human activities. This would help explain how the economic sector or activity – including the derived benefits – depends on the state of the sea. The is held on 8-9 September 2016 and chaired by Ms Soile Oinonen, Finnish Environment Centre. It is a part of the , funded by the EU.* * *Note for editors: is an intergovernmental organization made up of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union. Founded in 1974, its primary aims as a governing body are to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution, as well as to ensure safe maritime navigation. The official name of HELCOM is the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission; it is the governing body of the Helsinki Convention. * * * For more information, please contact:Ulla Li ZweifelProfessional SecretaryHELCOMTel. +358 46 850 9198Skype: helcom64E-mail: ullali.zweifel(at)helcom.fi Johanna LaurilaInformation SecretaryHELCOMTel: +358 40 523 8988Skype: helcom70E-mail: johanna.laurila(at)helcom.fi​

Finding out the economic damages of a deteriorating state of the Baltic Sea is a key task for HELCOM experts this winter. First results of the HELCOM cost-effectiveness analysis will be launched mid-2017.

HELCOM adopts Recommendation on sustainable aquaculture

​​​HELCOM Annual Meeting with delegates from the nine Baltic coastal states and the EU has today adopted the on sustainable aquaculture. The Recommendation gives tools for the Baltic Sea region to develop this growing sector based on the Best Available Technologies (BAT) and Best Environmental Practices (BEP) and it will be followed by expert work to jointly develop a menu of BAT/BEP descriptions.HELCOM Annual Meeting is the highest decision-making body of the Helsinki Commission. In addition, three other HELCOM Recommendations were adopted by the Meeting, helping to improve the status of the Baltic marine environment: Recommendation on Conservation of Baltic Sea categorized as threatened, Recommendation on Safety of winter navigation with updated part on correspondence between Ice Classes (), as well as Recommendation concerning co-operation and coordination of based monitoring and procedures for granting permits. How is the region doing in more detail in implementing Baltic Sea Action Plan was one Meeting topic
(see summary graph below),​ through a new online explorer demonstrated to the participants. The portal, expecting launch in April, will show the level of accomplishment by the HELCOM countries of a selection of actions agreed on in HELCOM.  Among the many topics of the 2-day Meeting were maritime spatial planning and supporting the of the Joint HELCOM-VASAB Working Group, being a unique set-up and good example of sea-basin cooperation. The delegates also addressed possible improvements for following up the nutrient input reduction scheme and countries in their annual targets for Phosphorus and Nitrogen; as well as reviewed the requested information on activities in the Gulf of Finland and the situation of HELCOM – significant sources of pollution in the Baltic Sea. Russian Federation discussed one of the Hot Spots (No. 23) and was requested to provide more information on the situation and planned activities around the Krasny Bor landfill on the next HELCOM Pressure Working Group meeting in April 2016.  Moreover, the meeting the Roadmap for a Baltic Sea NECA, with potential to significantly reduce Nutrient inputs from ships to the Baltic Sea. Meeting outcome will be available next week. All meeting documents are available in ​New online explorer will soon be opened for browsing how the countries are doing in protecting​ the marine environment.-12 ms-rteFontSize-1″>-12 ms-rteFontSize-1″> * * * Note for editorsThe 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:Johanna LaurilaInformation SecretaryHELCOMTel: +358 40 523 8988Skype: helcom70E-mail: johanna.laurila(at)helcom.fi​

HELCOM Annual Meeting with delegates from the nine Baltic coastal states and the EU has adopted four HELCOM Recommendations.

Clear-cut HELCOM online system ready for assessing Baltic nutrient pollution

​​​An efficient and more transparent is now set up by the coastal countries for producing assessments online on Baltic-wide eutrophication, a major environmental threat to the sea. The new automatized process, exceptional in
environmental assessments, combines and calculates monitoring data such as on
nutrients, into resulting indicators and assessments.​ Moreover, the system incorporates an online review by nominated experts for improved quality check and transparency. The HELCOM assessment system, hosted by and developed together with the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (), will provide straight access to up-to-date maps and country-wise data, to be released as part of the HELCOM Second Holistic Assessment of the Baltic Sea in 2017. Screenshot from the new Dataview. ​The new, more detailed information on the level of eutrophication in different basins of the Baltic Sea will enable much faster overall assessment of the status of the sea and the distance to Good Environmental Status, helping to make accurate management decisions for the benefit of the marine environment. The system pilots similar automated procedures foreseen by HELCOM for assessments of hazardous substances and biodiversity planned.  The online , established for testing the new assessment process, is published for demonstration purposes and may be of interest by experts and managers in other sea areas affected by eutrophication in Europe and beyond. The site includes a of the data submissions, data stations and test indicator products, providing for documentation of the review. The dataview also shows details on country-specific submissions of data on eutrophication-related parameters – phosphorus, nitrogen, chlorophyll-a and Secchi depth – as well as assessment products. The automated assessment workflow is the main deliverable of the finalized 2-year HELCOM . Other outcomes include a concise assessment explaining all the protocols of the assessment, to be used by experts involved in the assessments as well as any party interested in learning details about the assessment methodology. The project has also developed forthcoming HELCOM on eutrophication and improved updating the existing ones; proposed how to combine assessment of coastal and open waters stemming from different legislative frameworks; proposed for improved usage of satellite data along with the in-situ samples collected from monitoring points; and suggested a method on harmonizing coastal and open-sea assessments, among others.Links​ * * *Note for editorsThe 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:Vivi Fleming-LehtinenProject Manager, EUTRO-OPER (until end of 2015)Finnish Environment Institute – SYKETel: +358 50 5984238E-mail: vivi.fleming-lehtinen(at)environment.fi Johanna LaurilaInformation SecretaryHELCOMTel: +358 40 523 8988E-mail: johanna.laurila(at)helcom.fi​

An efficient and more transparent work flow is now set up by the coastal countries for producing assessments online on Baltic-wide eutrophication.

On the way to healthy status: new HELCOM indicators launched

​Abundance of Indicators on coastal and migratory fish are the first of 19 new HELCOM  launched this fall, as a result of careful preparations by HELCOM experts. For each core indicator the environmental status is evaluated against a quantitative boundary that defines Good Environmental Status (GES). Defining GES through core indicators provides an important tool for assessing the status as well as guiding management towards a healthy Baltic Sea.Judging by the new coastal fish indicators, approximately half of the assessed coastal areas of the Baltic Sea are in good environmental status.  Since populations of coastal fish species are rather stationary, they have good potential in reflecting the general environmental state of the assessment unit. Coastal fish are doing better in the northern and eastern parts of the Baltic Sea, where perch is a key species while in the west an​​d south, where flounder is a key species, the environmental status is poorer.  The entire Baltic Sea from north to south is roamed by adult salmon feeding in the open sea. The abundance of salmon smolt and spawning adults in rivers flowing into the Bothnian Bay is at a level reflecting good environmental status, while in other areas the numbers are clearly below the aspired level. Capture of both young salmon and sea trout as by-catch in fisheries as well as migration barriers in rivers continue to be two of the reasons for GES not being achieved in some areas.  Good Environmental Status (GES) is a key concept in HELCOM Baltic Sea Action , which have set the objectives and actions for reaching GES for the entire Baltic Sea by 2021. The Baltic Sea is in GES when the sea is ecologically diverse, the waters are clean, and the use of the sea is sustainable. Fish are an integral part of the marine ecosystem and maintaining healthy fish communities is thus a key concern in environment protection.   Fast facts – coastal fishFor coastal fish key species, GES is achieved in 2/3 (16 out of the 24) coastal HELCOM assessment units that were evaluated.Piscivores – fish feeding on other fish – indicate GES in a majority of the evaluated coastal assessment unit areas.Cyprinids – fish feeding on smaller animals – indicate GES in half of the evaluated coastal assessment unit areas.Coastal fish communities have significant socio-economic and ecological importance in the Baltic Sea, both for ecosystem functioning and for the recreational and small-scale coastal commercial fishery. Long-term changes in the abundance of coastal fish species are mainly caused by the effects of increased water temperature and eutrophication and also due to human exploitation.  Fast facts – migratory fish​ Salmon is a long-distance migrating big predatory fish species in the Baltic Sea marine ecosystem.The number of juvenile salmon – or smolt – has increased in the Bothnian Bay and Quark area. In the Bothnian Sea as well as Gulf of Finland, the young salmon production is showing slight increase but is still low. On the other hand, the weak smolt production in rivers flowing into the Baltic Proper are not showing any signs of improvement.Sea trout populations indicate a sub-GES state in most of the Baltic Sea coastal areas, with a good environmental state only being indicated in the south-western parts. The current evaluation shows that the status reflected by populations of sea trout is sub-GES in most Baltic Sea coastal areas.>>   * *Note for editorsThe 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 Zweifel> Professional Secretary> HELCOM> Tel. +358 46 850 9198> Skype: helcom64> E-mail: ullali.zweifel(at)helcom.fi>>>Johanna Laurila> Information Secretary> HELCOM> Tel: +358 40 523 8988> Skype: helcom70> E-mail: johanna.laurila(at)helcom.fi

Indicators on coastal and migratory fish are the first of 19 new HELCOM core indicators launched this fall, as a result of careful preparations by HELCOM experts.