Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

 

Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

HELCOM’s ship data used for planning the Baltic Sea

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​HELCOM’s vast data on ships’ movements in the Baltic Sea are analysed to support the 2-year maritime spatial planning project Baltic SCOPE having its kick-off today in Riga, Latvia. HELCOM Automatic Identification System (AIS) network has monitored and compiled data on ships without interruption since 2005. Via HELCOM’s work, the project, led by the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management, can tap into this spatial information on shipping, a key activity in the Baltic. The cleaning and restructuring of the huge raw AIS data covering the period 2005-2014 has already been undertaken by HELCOM Secretariat. Also the first versions of traffic density maps have been prepared for the case study areas – one in the Baltic Sea southwest and the other between Estonia, Latvia and Sweden. The HELCOM Secretariat will also prepare a publication drawing together lesson learnt on the use of AIS and other data in maritime spatial planning of the Baltic Sea, in order to ease the future work in other initiatives. Being a regional information hub, HELCOM also possesses other and up to date spatial information for planning at sea such as on marine protected , in a new database to be open for public in the end of November, or maps on the distribution of endangered species and habitats listed in the HELCOM publications.  One example of upcoming HELCOM products of likely interest for MSP purposes is the Baltic-wide dataset of fishing vessel movements, compiled in cooperation with ICES.  The 2-year Baltic SCOPE project focuses on planning various marine-based activities such as shipping, fishing, offshore wind farming, and protected areas. The project plans to deliver a set of generic good practices, methods and results which will be filtered into the Baltic MSP process fostered by the HELCOM-VASAB MSP .  Maritime spatial planning, an essential instrument for efficient, ecosystem-based management of maritime activities, is also a horizontal action of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea region jointly led by HELCOM and VASAB.  * * *Note for editorsSince 2005, the Baltic region has had a system in place for gathering signals from all the Automatic Identification System (AIS) devices on ships – the HELCOM AIS network. This network provides real-time surveillance and statistics of the movement of ships, and is administered by the HELCOM AIS , meeting annually since 2002. E-navigation uses such information to create a second generation of electronic services for enhanced safety and environmental performance. The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as HELCOM, 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:Hermanni BackerProfessional Secretary for Maritime and ResponseHELCOMTel:  +358 46 8509199Skype: helcom02E-mail: hermanni.backer(at)helcom.fi ​Johanna LaurilaInformation SecretaryHELCOMTel: +358 40 523 8988Skype: helcom70E-mail: johanna.laurila(at)helcom.fi

HELCOM’s vast data on tracking ships’ movements in the Baltic Sea are analysed to support the 2-year maritime spatial planning project Baltic SCOPE having its kick-off event today in Riga, Latvia.

New Sweden-led project on Baltic maritime spatial planning kicks off

​A brand new project Baltic SCOPE, with HELCOM participation, has been launched this week in Gothenburg, Sweden, coordinated by the Swedish for Marine and Water Management. As committed by the Ministers both for marine environment protection and spatial planning, in the regional for maritime spatial planning, most countries in the Baltic Sea region have intensified their efforts in developing marine spatial plans. The EU-funded project will contribute to this challenging task. The Baltic SCOPE project focuses on planning various marine-based activities such as shipping, fishing, offshore wind farming, and protected areas – more specifically, would such activities possibly co-exist or be separated in different parts of the marine areas. Importantly, the planning of the common sea areas is to be a coordinated effort. HELCOM will provide the SCOPE project with maritime GIS data, especially on ship movements in the region based on the HELCOM Automatic Identification System (AIS) network.  The project is comprised of two case studies that build upon marine spatial planning processes that have already begun – one in the Baltic Sea southwest and the other between Estonia, Latvia and Sweden.Link:  * * *Note for editors:According to the United Nations, maritime spatial planning (MSP) is “a public process of analyzing and allocating the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in marine areas to achieve ecological, economic, and social objectives that usually have been specified through a political process.” Operational since 2010, the HELCOM-VASAB MSP ensures the regional coherence of any activities related to maritime spatial planning. The group is in charge of the Horizontal Action Spatial Planning within the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. HELCOM Ministerial Meeting adopted in 2013 the Regional Baltic maritime spatial planning roadmap 2013–2020. * * *Since 2005, the Baltic region has had a system in place for gathering signals from all the Automatic Identification System (AIS) devices on ships – the HELCOM AIS network. This network provides real-time surveillance and statistics of the movement of ships, and is administered by the HELCOM , meeting annually since 2002. E-navigation uses such information to create a second generation of electronic services for enhanced safety and environmental performance– Check the 3 minute , ‘Baltic Sea shipping visualised’ * * *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:Hermanni BackerProfessional Secretary for Maritime, Response and Maritime Spatial PlanningHELCOMTel:  +358 46 8509199Skype: helcom02E-mail: hermanni.backer(at)helcom.fiJohanna LaurilaInformation SecretaryHELCOMTel: +358 40 523 8988Skype: helcom70E-mail: johanna.laurila(at)helcom.fi

HELCOM will provide the Baltic SCOPE project with maritime GIS data, especially on ship movements based on the AIS network.

Regional work on Baltic Sea protection sharpens up

The Regional action plan for marine and the Recommendation
on the conservation of in the Baltic Sea are both expecting
adoption this week as the highest body of HELCOM, the Annual Meeting, convenes
in Helsinki, Finland. The delegates of the Contracting Parties of the Helsinki
Convention, representing the nine coastal Baltic countries as well as the EU,
will also address the on effective regional work between HELCOM and the
EU Strategy of the Baltic Sea Region, as the revision of the Action Plan of the
Strategy is about to be finalized soon.

 op-10 items found in the Baltic Sea as well as micro-plastics have special measures reserved in the marine litter action plan. Photo: Bo Eide/Flickr.

Marine litter is a growing concern globally as well as regionally, and the HELCOM Recommendation on Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter is the first comprehensive approach to the problem in the Baltic Sea region. The HELCOM commitment from 2013 is to achieve a significant quantitative reduction of marine litter by 2025, compared to 2015.  The plan integrates the actions required at regional level as well as the national actions by countries according to their needs. Special measures are addressed to the top-10 items found in the Baltic Sea as well micro-plastics. The document also highlights the importance of environmental education and recommends coordinated monitoring programmes for the common marine litter indicators. The Marine litter action plan, to be successfully implemented, will require the countries’ leadership for specific actions as well as wide involvement of stakeholders in the region. Close cooperation with other Regional Seas Conventions, and the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, has also been brought up as a way to realize a wide ranging measures. Moreover, adequate protection for the will take shape after the expected adoption of the new HELCOM Recommendation. The new Recommendation follows up on the critical situation of many Baltic Sea species as concluded in the 2013 HELCOM Red List of Baltic Sea in danger of becoming extinct (). Preparation of a Recommendation on the Conservation of is expected to begin shortly. The Annual Meeting, held on 3-4 March, will also follow up on the recent to institutionalize the cooperation under HELCOM policies and the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, for better defining the complementarity of the roles and specific tasks. As both in HELCOM and under EUSBSR there are shared action areas, more systematic cooperation will save resources and add to the efficiency in reaching the mutual goals. Other key topics under negotiations:-          Finalization of the HELCOM Recommendation on sustainable aquaculture. Substituting the existing HELCOM Recommendation (25/4) aims to limit potential environmental impacts of aquaculture activities such as the introduction of non-indigenous species, ecological and genetic impacts on wild fish stocks from unintended releases of farmed species, nutrient pollution, as well as introduction of antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals. Aquaculture, including fish farming, is a growing food production industry that continues to have large potential for green technologies and environmentally friendly production methods, both in marine and fresh waters.-          Adoption of the Revised HELCOM Guidelines for Management of Dredged Material at Sea.-          Adopting the revised HELCOM Recommendation 25/7 on safety of winter navigation in the Baltic Sea Area, including a new harmonization of approximate correspondence of ice classes-          Adopting the revised HELCOM Recommendation 34E/4 “Airborne surveillance with remote sensing equipment in the Baltic Sea area”-          Finalization of a work plan to improve regional coherence, in the implementation of different marine policies to reach Good Environmental Status –          Cooperation with other Regional Seas Conventions and organizations – newest developments * * *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

Marine litter, Recommendation on threatened species and the revision of the EU Regional Strategy Action Plan and HELCOM are top items of the HELCOM Annual Meeting.

Maritime spatial planning will have better data in the Baltic

​High-quality data on maritime spatial planning () in the Baltic region will be a major issue in a starting today, along with a new expert group under plans to better tackle the current blocks in access and availability of such data.  Another key topic is the implementation of the EU Directive on MSP , adopted last July. HELCOM has thematic and targeted on maritime spatial planning in the Baltic Sea region.The data in question concerns marine activities as well as biological, physical and socio-economic environments. At present, sufficient data for trans-boundary maritime spatial planning (MSP) is lacking. There are still challenges in availability, compatibility, usability and spread of data. The planned data expert group would identify and address the key impediments as well as ensure structured and continuous work. Last summer, HELCOM has created thematic and targeted on MSP in the Baltic Sea region, already improving access to GIS and other related data. The national work to implement the EU Directive on maritime spatial planning can be supported with existing Baltic experience in MSP. The participants of the meeting will discuss the role and contribution of their Working Group, operational since 2010, with regards to the implementation strategy of the EU Directive.  The dynamic future of MSP will be represented in the meeting also in the form of a number of projects – Baltic LINes, Baltic Scope, BaltSpace and “BaltWise II”. Wind power, shipping, pipelines, fishing and protected areas are just some areas covered, assisting the Working Group to tap into the forthcoming fresh results and best practices thus better supporting countries in their work on eco-system based MSP.  The meeting in Gothenburg, Sweden is the tenth regular session for the joint Working on MSP of HELCOM and Vision and Strategies around the Baltic Sea (VASAB). The meeting is hosted by the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management (SwAM) and chaired by Mr. Andrzej Cieślak, Poland and Joacim Johansson, Sweden. . All documents will be public after the meeting.  * * *Note for editors:According to the United Nations, maritime spatial planning (MSP) is “a public process of analyzing and allocating the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in marine areas to achieve ecological, economic, and social objectives that usually have been specified through a political process.” Operational since 2010, the HELCOM-VASAB MSP has regularized its place to ensure the regional coherence of any activities related to maritime spatial planning. The group is in charge of the Horizontal Action Spatial Planning within the EU for the Baltic Sea Region. HELCOM Ministerial Meeting adopted in 2013 the Regional Baltic maritime spatial planning roadmap 2013–2020. 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 further information, please contact:Laura Meski Assistant Professional Secretary HELCOM +358 40 162 2053 Skype: helcom82 E-mail: laura.meski(at)helcom.fi Johanna LaurilaInformation SecretaryHELCOMTel: +358 40 523 8988Skype: helcom70E-mail: johanna.laurila(at)helcom.fi

High-quality data and implementation of the EU Directive on maritime spatial planning will be key topics in a meeting starting today.

Ties closing between HELCOM and Baltic Sea regional strategy

The cooperation between HELCOM and the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) is expected to smoothen.  For the first time, a dedicated session with the representatives from relevant EUSBSR Priority Areas and Horizontal Actions was successfully organized as a part of this week’s of HELCOM Heads of Delegation representing all the Baltic coastal countries as well as the EU. The full meeting is now available online, listing all the issues addressed and decided on in the meeting for the benefit of the Baltic marine environment.Improving cooperation in practice was the key topic of HELCOM session with representatives from the EU Strategy for the Baltic sea Region. Photo: Dodik Putro.Concrete proposals on why and how to improve the synergies between HELCOM and EUSBSR have been listed in the meeting outcome. The shared goal would be to better communicate the policy directions and needs by HELCOM, which then can be met with and supported by the EUSBSR work and projects. The meeting recommended practical ways for better use of the expertise of HELCOM groups. Using the existing forums, co-chairing, back-to-back meetings, opportunity for involving Russian experts, and helping HELCOM countries in tapping into EU funding were also mentioned as practical solutions for more effective regional cooperation. The timing for the joint HELCOM-EUSBSR meeting was particularly adept, as the HELCOM streamlining process has been completed few months ago while the Action Plan of the EUSBSR is currently under revision, expecting launch at the Strategy’s Annual Forum in mid-June 2015. As per other results of the Heads of Delegation meeting, HELCOM “sub-hot spot” No. 18.1 “Construction of new sewer connections” was deleted, concerning the waste water treatment system of St. Petersburg. A large-scale environmental project for the construction of the northern tunnel collector of the city of five million inhabitants was finalized in October 2013, preventing the discharge of untreated waste water into the Neva River by approximately 122 million m3 per year. Since then, 98.4% of waste water has been estimated as adequately treated in St. Petersburg. HELCOM originally included 162 of the region’s significant sources of pollution, out of which over two thirds have since been mitigated.   Adequate reception for passenger ships was also negotiated by the Meeting, being part of the larger process of complying with the Baltic’s status as a sewage special area as decided by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in 2011. The consultations for a joint notification on the adequacy of ports’ reception facilities will continue via correspondence early next year. The meeting was held on 9-10 December 2014 and it was chaired by the current Estonian Chair of HELCOM, Mr. Harry Liiv. ..  * * * Note for editorsThe European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region () is the first macro-regional strategy in Europe. It aims at reinforcing cooperation within this large region in order to face several challenges by working together as well as promoting a more balanced development in the area. The Strategy also contributes to major EU policies and reinforces the integration within the area. The (HOD) of HELCOM usually meet few times a year. While the Annual Meeting of HELCOM remains the Commission’s highest decision-making body, the Heads of Delegation have a relatively high authority over most major issues.  The working structure of HELCOM, supported and administered by the Secretariat, comprises of the Helsinki Commission, the Heads of Delegation, and eight main working groups, together with tens of expert groups, correspondence groups and projects. 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​

For the first time, a dedicated session with the representatives from relevant EUSBSR areas was organized as a part of this week’s meeting of HELCOM Heads of Delegation.

VASAB ministers encourage execution of the joint HELCOM-VASAB roadmap on maritime spatial planning

​The regional for maritime spatial planning (MSP), first adopted in the 2013 HELCOM Ministerial Meeting, is today further pushed for implementation by the eleven member states of the Vision and Strategies around the Baltic Sea (VASAB), hosting its 8th in Tallinn, Estonia. The MSP roadmap covering the period 2013–2020 is a key result of the joint HELCOM-VASAB working group on maritime spatial planning, operational since 2009.  The of HELCOM in the Conference was given by the Chair, Harry Liiv, referring to the decades’ long knowledge in HELCOM on marine ecosystems, maritime and land activities and their impacts on the Baltic Sea. “During the 40 year lifth VASAB Ministerial Conference 2014.   * * *Note for editorsVision and Strategies around the Baltic Sea () is an intergovernmental co-operation of ministers responsible for spatial planning and development of Belarus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, the Russian Federation and Sweden. VASAB is part of the network of the Council of the Baltic Sea States. 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 further information, please contact:

Hermanni
BackerProfessional
Secretary for Maritime, Response and Maritime Spatial PlanningHELCOMTel:  +358 46 8509199Skype:
helcom02E-mail:
hermanni.backer(at)helcom.fi Johanna
LaurilaInformation
SecretaryHELCOMTel: +358
40 523 8988Skype:
helcom70E-mail:
johanna.laurila(at)helcom.fi

The regional roadmap for maritime spatial planning (MSP), first adopted in the 2013 HELCOM Ministerial Meeting, is today further pushed for implementation

Marine litter, protected areas and monitoring among key priorities of Estonian Chairmanship of HELCOM

Estonia has released its for the 2-year of the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, also known as Helsinki Commission or , which officially began one week ago. The main components addressed in the new Chairmanship priorities are pollution management; planning, management and marine protected areas; as well as assessment of environmental status and information. The nominated new Chairman is Harry Liiv, the Deputy Secretary General of the Ministry of the Environment of Estonia.  Improved plans in water management and rural development for more effective        nutrient reduction, as well as reducing the impact of hazardous substances are parts of the overall first priority of pollution management.  Moreover, drawing up a joint regional action plan on reducing marine litter in 2015 at the latest, as was agreed by the region’s countries in the 2013 Ministerial Declaration, is listed as a priority.  Other priorities for the next two years include the use, conservation and protection of the Baltic Sea regional coastal and marine areas; further work for well arranged network of marine protected areas; as well as developing of ecosystem based management principles for fish stock and other environmental resources. Monitoring of high standards, reliable data and indicator work form the third pillar of the Estonian priorities, as well as the implementation of HELCOM communication strategy adopted last spring. “I am looking forward to the labour-intensive season of fully putting into practice the plentiful Ministerial commitments from October 2013, in the path of reaching a Baltic Sea in good environmental status. There are important deadlines ahead especially concerning HELCOM monitoring programme and guidelines, as well as the major effort to describe the status of the entire Baltic Sea in the 2nd HELCOM holistic assessment”, says the new HELCOM Chairman, Mr. Harry Liiv.   “In general terms, 2014 is a major year for Estonia with regards to regional cooperation thus providing concrete opportunities for even deeper synergies. In addition to the HELCOM Chairmanship, this month Estonia has assumed the yearly presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea. For the whole calendar year Estonia is leading the Nordic-Baltic cooperation (NB8), the Baltic Council of Ministers as well as the Baltic Assembly”, says Harry Liiv.   Mr. Harry Liiv has succeeded Ms. Helle Pilsgaard of Denmark, who chaired the Helsinki Commission in 2012–2014. The Chairmanship of HELCOM rotates between the Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union according to the alphabetical order every two years. Mr. Liiv will lead, as the Chairman, the work of HELCOM up until 30 June 2016.  the document HELCOM priorities during the Estonian Chairmanship. * * *Note for editors:The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as , is an intergovernmental organisation 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.HELCOM is the governing body of the “Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area,” more usually known as the Helsinki Convention, from 1974. * * *For further information, please contact:Johanna LaurilaInformation SecretaryHELCOMTel: +358 40 523 8988E-mail:  Pille RõivasPublic Relations CouncellorMinistry of the Environment of EstoniaTel: +372 626 2811, +372 506 4608E-mail:

Estonian priorities for the 2-year HELCOM Chairmanship also cover pollution management, improving the network of marine protected areas and data reliability, among others.

HELCOM inspires regional discussions on maritime spatial planning data

New approaches for sharing and creating data on maritime spatial planning () have been discussed by the representatives of organizations and initiatives in the Baltic Sea region in a targeted session at this week’s Baltic Maritime Spatial Planning in Riga, Latvia. The session was moderated by Project Coordinator Manuel Frias from HELCOM Secretariat.Session “e-MSP: Data needs for proper maritime planning” by Manuel Frias, HELCOM. Photo: Jonas Pålsson. “There is still much to do in the field of regional data exchange concerning the Baltic Sea even if this activity has been going on for over 100 years, and within HELCOM since the last 40 years. Today’s discussions show that the approach of HELCOM of favouring links to the original data providers via Web Map Service (WMS) and other GIS software tools improves the flow of MSP data in the Baltic Sea area. This approach helps to avoid any outdated data, a risk when copying data to a centralized database,” says Frias.  HELCOM, the co-leader with Vision and Strategies around the Baltic Sea () of Horizontal Action “Spatial Planning” in the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, has recently opened a to facilitate regional data exchange and browsing.  The Baltic Maritime Spatial Planning Forum takes place on 17-18 June 2014 and it is organized by Project, VASAB, as well as the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (), Swedish for Marine and Water Management and the of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of Latvia.  * * *Note for editors:HELCOM has created thematic and targeted on maritime spatial planning (MSP) in the Baltic Sea region, ensuring improved access to GIS and other related data. The new MSP map and data service has been developed with EU funds as a part of HELCOM’s task to implement the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region () Horizontal Action (HA) for which HELCOM is the co-leader with the Vision and Strategies around the Baltic Sea (VASAB). In addition, completed activities include the Regional Baltic maritime spatial planning (MSP) 2013–2020 adopted last year at the HELCOM Ministerial Meeting. The Roadmap is a concrete set of next steps for MSP in the region, also innovating for new ways to better include fishing and the fisheries sector to MSP. These activities have been carried out under HELCOM HORIZON Project. 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 further information, please contact:Manuel FriasProject CoordinatorHELCOMTel: +358 46 850 9209 Skype: helcom23E-mail: manuel.frias(at)helcom.fi Hermanni BackerProfessional Secretary of Maritime, Response, and Maritime spatial planning HELCOM Tel:  +358 46 8509199 Skype: helcom02 E-mail: hermanni.backer(at)helcom.fiJohanna LaurilaInformation SecretaryHELCOMTel: +358 40 523 8988Skype: helcom70E-mail: johanna.laurila(at)helcom.fi

New approaches for sharing and creating data on maritime spatial planning have been discussed in a targeted session today in Riga, Latvia.

Ready to ensure coherent implementation of maritime spatial planning in the Baltic

​Future implementation of the European Union (EU) Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) in the Baltic Sea region as well as exchange of MSP data are among the main topics of the of the MSP of Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission () and Vision and Strategies around the Baltic Sea (), closing today in Riga, Latvia. The EU member states of the Baltic Sea region will soon face the implementation of the MSP Directive after its final adoption by the Council of the European Union, anticipated to take place on 23 July 2014. The joint HELCOM-VASAB MSP Working Group, active since 2010, is ready to ensure the regional coherence of such implementation activities.  Efficient exchange of geographical data is a prerequisite of regionally coherent implementation of the EU Directive as well as the regional commitments agreed within HELCOM and VASAB. Today’s Meeting suggests a regional correspondence group on MSP data to support the updating and creation of regional datasets for MSP.  * * *Note for editors:According to the United Nations, maritime spatial planning (MSP) is “a public process of analyzing and allocating the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in marine areas to achieve ecological, economic, and social objectives that usually have been specified through a political process.”  HELCOM has for years been in the forefront of MSP in the Baltic Sea and within the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, HELCOM leads with VASAB the Horizontal Action: Spatial Planning (full title: Encouraging the use of Maritime and Land-based Spatial Planning in all Member States around the Baltic Sea and develop a common approach for cross-border cooperation). HELCOM Ministerial Meeting adopted last year the .  * * *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 further information, please contact:Hermanni Backer Professional Secretary of Maritime, Response, and Maritime spatial planning HELCOM Tel:  +358 46 8509199 Skype: helcom02 E-mail: hermanni.backer@helcom.fiJohanna Laurila Information Secretary HELCOM Tel: +358 40 523 8988 Skype: helcom70 E-mail: johanna.laurila@helcom.fi

Future implementation of the EU Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) in the Baltic Sea region as well as exchange of MSP data are among the main topics in HELCOM-VASAB Meeting.

Region’s key current issues reviewed in HELCOM Annual Meeting

​The 35th Annual Meeting of closed yesterday evening after reviewing the current and relevant key issues related to regional policy-making on Baltic marine environment.  The Annual Meeting, involving HELCOM member parties which consist of all the Baltic coastal nations and the EU, is the highest decision-making body of HELCOM and explores the yearly developments concerning eutrophication, hazardous substances, biodiversity and maritime activities. This year’s Meeting started with a special festive flavor with the 40th Anniversary celebrating the signing of the 1974 Helsinki Convention, providing the basis for HELCOM work.  The Meeting decided yesterday on necessary steps in order to develop a Regional Action Plan on marine litter by 2015, as agreed by the Ministerial Meeting last October. Marine litter is a broad and critical concern and the Action Plan will form a regional strategy on how to deal with it in a comprehensive way. The Plan will be developed based on information on sources and amounts of marine litter, and it aims to include concrete measures to minimize the presence of marine litter in the Baltic Sea. Its development will be organized through regional workshops and with close involvement of the Contracting Parties. The proposed working plan utilizes the experience from preparing the Regional Action Plan for the North-East Atlantic within OSPAR. Another key topic in the extensive Meeting agenda was the major overhaul of the HELCOM Recommendation on coastal and marine Baltic Sea protected areas. Such protected areas are essential for maintaining biodiversity and ensuring the versatility of ecosystems. The previous similar document, HELCOM Recommendation , was adopted 20 years ago, and the Contracting Parties now agreed on the main changes in the Recommendation with only small aspects pending confirmation shortly. The main reasons for creating the new Recommendation have been the need to update the selection criteria of the marine protected areas, also concerning the newly Red-listed habitats and species; to establish a new database and ensure it is updated; and to re-assess the criteria for both ecological coherence and management aspects. Furthermore, to help reduce harmful nutrients in the Baltic Sea, the Meeting decided in principal to submit a notification on improved sewage reception facilities in Baltic ports to the International Maritime Organization (). Such a submission to IMO meeting will trigger an enforcement of ban on sewage discharges from passenger ships according to the special areas status of the Baltic Sea under the IMO MARPOL convention, which Baltic has been granted as the first sea area in the world following the HELCOM-led process.  An overview on current availability of port reception facilities for passenger vessels’ sewage, as well as on passenger traffic trends, are about to be published on HELCOM website. Almost 40 years of successful marine protection of HELCOM has been achieved through constant self-reflection. Yesterday the 35th Annual Meeting endorsed a plan for major deliverables by the organization until 2021 as well as agreed to implement a number of measures for a modernized HELCOM. The new, more streamlined working structure for HELCOM main operational bodies was to a large extent completed, to better reflect the current environmental challenges and obligations of the Contracting Parties. HELCOM will pay more attention in the future to better communicating scientific and technical outcomes to decision-makers as well as the general public.  The 35th meeting was chaired by Helle Pilsgaard, Chair of HELCOM. All Meeting documents can be accessed in  * * *Note for editors:The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as , is an intergovernmental organisation 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:  

Work starts on Baltic marine litter action plan and other current key issues reviewed on Baltic environmental policies.