Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

 

Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

BALEX DELTA 2020: Regional response to major maritime incidents is being tested in Estonian waters

Estonian helicopter landing on Finnish vessel Turva during the BALEX DELTA 2020 exercise.
Photo: Marit Mätik/Ministry of Interior of Estonia

The 2020 edition of the annual BALEX DELTA exercise is taking place today, 26 August 2020 off the coast of Tallinn, Estonia, testing the readiness of the Baltic Sea countries to respond to major maritime incidents such as oil and chemical spills.

This year, the exercise scenario will involve a collision between two oil tankers in Estonian waters, simulating a large-scale pollution event with a spill of 200 tonnes of oil and missing crew members at sea, triggering a search and rescue (SAR) action. 

Besides host Estonia providing several ships and equipment including a surveillance plane and a helicopter, Denmark, the EU, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Sweden are also participating and sending vessels.

“Major accidents are not frequent in the Baltic Sea but BALEX DELTA is one of the tools at our disposal to keep us ready for the worst case,” said Markus Helavuori who oversees response activities at HELCOM.

The BALEX DELTA exercises have been held every year since 1989 to check and improve the operational capacity and skills of the Baltic Sea countries to respond to maritime incidents affecting the waters of HELCOM countries. 

They help the HELCOM countries “to maintain the ability to respond to pollution incidents threatening the marine environment of the Baltic Sea Area” as formulated in the Annex VII on Response to Pollution Incidents of the Helsinki Convention.

During the exercises, both ships, cleaning equipment and procedures required for response operations at sea and on the shore are tested.

The BALEX DELTA 2020 edition is coordinated by the Estonian Police and Border Guard. The exercise is Estonia’s third, with previous ones held in 1997 and 2007.

The Ministers of the Interior of both Estonia and Finland are also attending the exercise.  

#BALEXDELTA

Aerial surveillance of spills and discharges at sea in the Baltic gets scrutinized at HELCOM meeting in Tallinn

IWGAS-2019 participants in front of the new Estonian surveillance plane in Tallinn on 21 March 2019. The plane is used to track both accidental spills and illegal discharges at sea. © HELCOMImproving surveillance of spills and discharges at sea was a main subject at the Annual Meeting of the HELCOM Informal Working Group on Aerial Surveillance (IWGAS 2019) that was held in Tallinn, Estonia from 20 to 21 March 2019.In Tallinn, the HELCOM members presented their respective national surveillance activities and finalised their work on the 2018 edition of the HELCOM Annual report on discharges observed during aerial surveillance in the Baltic Sea.To ensure a more efficient surveillance of the Baltic Sea, IWGAS 2019 notably agreed to update the coverage requirements of satellite imagery. Aerial surveillance is key for responding to discharges at sea of hazardous substances such as oil or chemicals, regardless of being accidental or intentional.“Aerial surveillance coupled to the Automatic Identification System (AIS) that tracks vessel movements is an efficient way to monitor illegal discharges at sea,” said Markus Helavuori, the HELCOM Professional Secretary in charge of maritime affairs, adding that “regular aerial surveillance can be very dissuasive.” At IWGAS 2019, Estonia also presented its new surveillance plane, a Beechcraft King Air B350ER that is in operation since July 2018.The meeting took place at the premises of the Ministry of the Interior of Estonia and of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Aviation Group.***For more information:Markus HelavuoriHELCOM Professional Secretary in charge of maritime affairsmarkus.helavuori@helcom.fi

Improving surveillance of spills and discharges at sea was a main subject at the Annual Meeting of the HELCOM Informal Working Group on Aerial Surveillance (IWGAS 2019) that was held in Tallinn, Estonia from 20 to 21 March 2019.

OpenRisk launches guideline for risk management at sea to improve response to accidental spills

 The HELCOM-led OpenRisk project recently published its “”, providing guidelines and methods for maritime risk management.Primarily aimed at national and regional authorities handling response to maritime incidents, the report intends to increase the risk management component in pollution preparedness processes, based on the .The report contains a toolbox of several risk assessment methods, outlining their aims and use, implementation basis, required inputs and obtained outputs, and how they work in practice. All of the described tools are open-access.”We don’t want another Erika or Prestige. For an effective response to maritime incidents, we also need to include risk management,” said Valtteri Laine, the OpenRisk project leader, adding that a better understanding of risk helps to mitigate uncertainties and lead to better preparedness. “The OpenRisk guideline toolbox should make it easier to select the most adequate method and tool for assessing specific risks,” he said.The  – a two year EU-funded project on methods for maritime risk assessments – aims at strengthening regional preparedness to accidental spills. Through promoting open-source standards, it seeks to address the high costs of implementing regional risk assessments, and to improve comparability of risk assessments across countries and regions. OpenRisk is led by HELCOM, partnering with the (WMU), the Netherlands-based non-profit maritime research institution , and the (SYKE).The project is also supported by the (North Sea), the (Nordic seas), (Mediterranean), as well as the . 

The HELCOM-led OpenRisk project recently published its “OpenRisk Guideline for Regional Risk Management to Improve European Pollution Preparedness and Response at Sea”, providing guidelines and methods for maritime risk management.

Final Inter-regional Workshop on Risk Assessment Tools for Pollution Preparedness and Response

(WMU press release)President Doumbia-Henry with the Workshop participants.-1″>The fourth, and final, Inter-regional Workshop on Risk Assessment Tools for Pollution Preparedness and Response under the was hosted by WMU in Malmö, Sweden on 30 October 2018. The workshop included 22 participants from nine countries, and built on the inter-regional discussions initiated by the previous OpenRisk Workshops in Finland, Portugal and Malta during 2017 – 2018.The EU funded Project on Open-Source Tools for Regional Risk Assessments to Improve European Preparedness and Response at Sea (OpenRisk, 2017-2018) is in the process of finalizing its work on drafting an optimized and open method toolbox for frequent regional pollution preparedness and response (PPR) risk assessments. While maritime risk assessments are vital to promoting risk-based decision-making in PPR, authorities have expressed an interest to improve current practices. Recent national and regional risk assessments have been successful but largely one-off projects, which typically do not allow for following how the risks of accidents and pollution develop over time and in space.New approaches enabling frequent risk assessments at a low cost are greatly needed to unleash the full potential of risk assessments within regional intergovernmental PPR organizations.The final OpenRisk Workshop focused on presenting the outcomes of the project and future plans within the scope of PPR risk management. This included a presentation of the document “OpenRisk Guideline for Regional Risk Management to Develop European Pollution Preparedness and Response at Sea” and the results of the Baltic Sea case study. In addition, possible follow-up projects were discussed.The OpenRisk Lead Partner is , an intergovernmental organization made up of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union. Founded in 1974 as the governing body of the Helsinki Convention, its aim is to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution, including spills from maritime accidents.Additional project partners are the (WMU), a non-profit maritime research institution based in the Netherlands, and the , which is the competent national oil spill response authority in Finland.The project is also supported by the BONN Agreement (North Sea), the Copenhagen Agreement (Nordic seas), REMPEC (Mediterranean), as well as the Norwegian Coastal Administration.

The fourth, and final, Inter-regional Workshop on Risk Assessment Tools for Pollution Preparedness and Response under the OpenRisk project was hosted by WMU in Malmö, Sweden on 30 October 2018.

Baltic Sea region tests its ability to respond to major maritime incidents

Participating vessels berthing ahead of the BALEX DELTA exercise in Karlskrona, Sweden on 27 August 2018. © BALEX DELTA 2018

The Baltic Sea region’s ability to respond to major maritime incidents will be thoroughly tested once more during the BALEX DELTA 2018 exercise that will be held in Karlskrona, Sweden from 28 to 30 August 2018.

Major Baltic Sea oil and chemical spill recovery exercise is taking shape

Pieces are put into place for the HELCOM BALEX DELTA 2018 oil and chemical spill recovery exercise, to be held on 27–30 August 2018 in Karlskrona area, SwedenPlanning updates to follow on the newly launched HELCOM BALEX DELTA 2018 web pageThe Baltic Sea response community gathered in Malmö in the beginning of the week to put together the pieces of the puzzle for the HELCOM BALEX DELTA 2018 oil and chemical spill recovery exercise. The exercise will be held in August 2018 in the Karlskrona area, hosted by Sweden. The Main Planning Conference, held on 23–24 January 2018 and hosted by the County Administrative Board of Skåne, gathered 25 experts from seven Baltic Sea countries (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden) and the HELCOM Secretariat. Experiences from the SCOPE 2017 exercise were shared by the Norwegian colleagues, to the appreciation of the conference participants.  Therese Larsson, Project Manager for the BALEX DELTA 2018 EU project, welcomed the good cooperation: “I’m happy to have such knowledge from all over the Baltic Sea gathered under one roof during the Conference.” The Main Planning Conference for the 2018 BALEX DELTA exercise was attended by experts from all over the Baltic Sea. Photo: Sanna Saari.The planning of the exercise progressed from the overall picture to planning the details of the exercise. The experts worked on finalizing the scenario for the exercise, setting the scene for the at-sea and table-top exercises, and planning the alerting exercise and the EU observer program as well as publicity issues related to the exercise.  The exercise will look different from previous years, as it includes rehearsing the response to both oil and chemical spills, as well as a table-top exercise on on-shore and oiled wildlife response. In addition, the program for the observers is more extensive than usual, giving the observers the possibility to follow the exercise closer than ever before. Jonas Holmstrand from the Swedish Coastguard, responsible for the scenario, was pleased with the accomplishments of the planning conference: “All the team members now have a shared vision of how the exercise will be planned and carried out. We are well equipped for entering the next phase, during which the different aspects of the exercise will be planned in dedicated groups.”The official, newly launched BALEX DELTA 2018 web page recaps the most important information on the exercise and project, and will be updated regularly with latest news and project updates. The web page is intended as an information hub for participants of the exercise, as well as for others interested in oil response related issues.Background informationInternational assistance from some or all coastal countries may be needed in the case of a major spill in the Baltic Sea. Based on the 1974/1992 Helsinki Convention, work for such co-ordinated on pollution preparedness and response take place within the regular regional cooperation of HELCOM. A dedicated intergovernmental group was established in 1977 for this purpose, today called the .The agreed preparedness and response procedures are documented in the HELCOM Response Manual, which was first compiled in 1983 from a number of related HELCOM Recommendations and has been kept continuously updated ever since.In order to test this Response Manual in practice, and thus ensure effective co-operation in case of an international pollution incident in the Baltic Sea, the coastal countries regularly carry out exercises. These range from table top and communication exercises to operational exercises like the HELCOM BALEX DELTA, which has been organised every year since 1989. In operational exercises equipment, ships and staff are exercised in the field using an incident scenario, partly unknown to the participants.The BALEX DELTA 2018 EU project is a time-limited EU project supporting the organisation of the 2018 edition of the HELCOM BALEX DELTA exercise. The project will run from 1 May 2017 to 30 April 2019 with a total budget of EUR 950 000 from European Union DG ECHO, Directorate A -Emergency Management. The project consortium, led by the Swedish Coast Guard, includes as project partners the County Administrative Board of Skåne, HELCOM, MSB (Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency), Polish Maritime Search and Rescue Service, and SYKE (Finnish Environment Institute).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. HELCOM has worked since 1974 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.ContactsMs. Therese LarssonBALEX DELTA 2018 Project ManagerSwedish Coast Guard, Director General’s OfficeTel: +46 721-87 87 34E-mail: therese.larsson(at)kustbevakningen.seMs. Heli HaapasaariChair of HELCOM Response Working GroupFinnish Environment Institute – SYKETel: +358 40 1793050E-mail: heli.haapasaari(at)environment.fiMr. Hermanni BackerProfessional Secretary for Maritime and ResponseHELCOMTel:+358 46 8509199Skype: helcom02E-mail: hermanni.backer(at)helcom.fi

Pieces are put into place for the HELCOM BALEX DELTA 2018 oil and chemical spill recovery exercise, to be held on 27–30 August 2018 in Karlskrona area, Sweden – Planning updates to follow on the newly launched HELCOM BALEX DELTA 2018 web page

Baltic Sea response community prepares for major oil spill exercise in Sweden 2018

A two-day conference kicks off the planning of the 2018 HELCOM BALEX DELTA exercise on oil and chemical spills, to be held in August in SwedenThanks to extra EU funding, the exercise will have a wider scope and greater impact than usualThe next major Baltic operational exercise in oil spill response, HELCOM BALEX DELTA, is scheduled to take place during the week of 27–31 August 2018 in Karlskrona area, Sweden. Preparations for the 2018 exercise will take major steps forward today and tomorrow (8–9 November) with an initial planning conference in Stockholm, Sweden. During the conference, the participating response authorities from the Baltic Sea coastal countries and the EU will have an opportunity to provide input to the planning of the three-day exercise. The conference is organized by the Swedish Coast Guard, the coordinator of BALEX DELTA 2018, and co-financed by the EU. Kapitan Poinc from Gdynia, Poland deploying the 600-metre oil boom during the 2015 BALEX DELTA exercise.Long-standing Baltic
cooperation gets boost from EUHELCOM BALEX DELTA exercises, organised as a practical test of the alarm procedures and the response capability of the Baltic Sea countries, have taken place each year since 1989. They are hosted by the Baltic Sea coastal countries according to a rotation schedule agreed upon at the HELCOM RESPONSE Working Group.In addition to the host, other countries regularly participate with their own response ships. Typically, 6–8 countries take part in the exercise, bringing the total number of vessels to 10–20. This makes the Baltic exercise one of the major multilateral spill exercises worldwide.

For the 2018 exercise, the hosting country Sweden has a
project budget of nearly 1 million euro, which includes significant project financing
from the European Union Directorate-General
for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) for the period from May 2017 to April 2019. This
funding allows a more advanced exercise, including detailed and inclusive planning
as well as more thorough analysis of the lessons learned. The outcome of this
analysis will contribute to the overall development of the HELCOM exercise framework
for at-sea, on-shore and combined operations. The project has recently been selected a flagship project of the EU
Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.Therese Larsson from the Swedish Coast Guard Headquarters is full of enthusiasm: “Due to the EU financing we have secured, we will be able to organise the 2018 Balex Delta exercise in Sweden at a completely different level than normally possible. I am very much looking forward to the input from the coastal countries and the EU during this initial planning conference.”

Coordinated action on land and at sea The preliminary scenario for the 2018 BALEX DELTA, to be further discussed at the initial planning conference, involves a cargo ship which hits ground off the environmentally sensitive rocky coast of southern parts of Sweden (Skåne and Blekinge). The ship carries containers with hazardous chemicals, some of which start leaking and are lost into the sea, while a breach in the hull leads to an oil spill. Some of the material reaches the shoreline, which calls for response activities on the shore, in addition to those at sea. Thus, besides ensuring effective international oil spill response at sea and on the shore, the exercise will also answer another need: to further develop the response procedures that relate to international incidents involving hazardous and noxious substances, both in the Baltic Sea and worldwide. Moreover, the exercise will focus on ensuring effective communication between the diverse actors involved, especially between those working on shore and those at sea.As the exercise receives funding from the DG ECHO programme, an extensive observer programme will be organised in order to ensure that the Baltic best practices can be spread throughout the EU. Within the observer programme, observers from 40 countries will be invited to witness the exercise, in addition to the Baltic Sea community that regularly takes part.”Today’s planning conference, involving all the coastal countries in initial planning, is a particularly welcome feature enabled by the additional funding. The EU project will also enable more detailed evaluation and analysis of the lessons learned, which will likely contribute greatly to the further development of the overall regional Baltic Sea cooperation on spill response.” concludes Heli Haapasaari, Chair of HELCOM RESPONSE working Group.Background informationInternational assistance from some or all coastal countries may be needed in the case of a major spill in the Baltic Sea. Based on the 1974/1992 Helsinki Convention, work for such co-ordinated on pollution preparedness and response take place within the regular regional cooperation of HELCOM. A dedicated intergovernmental group was established in 1977 for this purpose, today called the HELCOM Response Working Group.The agreed preparedness and response procedures are documented in the HELCOM RESPONSE Manual, which was first compiled in 1983 from a number of related HELCOM Recommendations and has been kept continuously updated ever since.In order to test this Response Manual in practice, and thus ensure effective co-operation in case of an international pollution incident in the Baltic Sea, the coastal countries regularly carry out exercises. These range from table top and communication exercises to operational exercises like the HELCOM BALEX DELTA, which has been organised every year since 1989. In operational exercises equipment, ships and staff are exercised in the field using an incident scenario, partly unknown to the participants.The BALEX DELTA 2018 EU project is a time-limited EU project supporting the organisation of the 2018 edition of the HELCOM BALEX DELTA exercise. The project will run from 1 May 2017 to 30 April 2019 with a total budget of EUR 950 000 from European Union DG ECHO, Directorate A -Emergency Management. The project consortium, led by the Swedish Coast Guard, includes as project partners the County Administrative Board of Skåne, HELCOM, MSB (Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency), Polish Maritime Search and Rescue Service, and SYKE (Finnish Environment Institute). Contacts

A two-day conference kicks off the planning of the 2018 HELCOM BALEX DELTA exercise on oil and chemical spills, to be held in August in Sweden – Thanks to extra EU funding, the exercise will have a wider scope and greater impact than usual

Regional organizations join forces to develop state of the art methods for spill risk assessments

HELCOM-led OpenRisk project presents first results and gathers views on risk assessment methods for spill prevention, preparedness and response purposes at first workshop in Helsinki 13-14 JuneRepresentatives of response cooperation in the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC), North-west Pacific (MERRAC) and North Sea (BONN Agreement) attended to launch cooperation across regionsNext steps include project workshops to be hosted by Lisbon Agreement (SW Europe, 12 October) and REMPEC (2018).Available tools and practices for risk assessments to optimize response to spills in the Baltic Sea, but also other similar regions worldwide, were considered at a dedicated two-day HELCOM workshop organized last week in Helsinki (13-14 June). The workshop collected the views of national authorities and experts on risk assessments to form the basis for the work within the HELCOM-led OpenRisk project during 2017-2018.The project, risk assessments and cooperation with other regions were also followed up during the 23rd meeting of the HELCOM Response Working Group, gathering the national spill response organizations in Baltic Sea the region and taking place back-to-back to the workshop (14-16 June).Risk assessments – systematic identification and analysis of risks – are helpful in scoping the adequacy of existing response capacity as well as for proposing measures to reduce the likelihood of spills. They can also be used to monitor the development of risks over time.In order to use the full potential of risk assessments in response related work, new methods are needed. The OpenRisk project, led by HELCOM, will take the first step in developing a toolbox of joint and open methods for response optimized risk assessments and to follow developments in related risk over time. .As similar needs have been identified in other regions of the world, the work will be carried out in cooperation with HELCOM’s sister organizations. For this purpose the workshop gathered representatives of REMPEC (Mediterranean Sea), MERRAC (NW Pacific) and BONN Agreement (North Sea).Recent regional risk assessments include for example HELCOM BRISK and BRISK-RU in the Baltic Sea (2009-2012), BONN BE-AWARE I and II in the greater North Sea (2012-2016) as well as REMPEC MEDESS-4MS in the Mediterranean (2012-2015).Inter-regional cooperation on risk assessments has already some history as BONN Agreement utilized the same methodology that was developed for the last HELCOM risk assessment project “BRISK” in its recently finalised BE AWARE initiative. According to a presentation by representatives of MERRAC, BRISK was also an important inspiration to ongoing activities in the northwest pacific region. Risk assessments have also been discussed at the inter-secretariat meetings convened annually by EMSA.OpenRisk is the latest development in this cooperation and will provide an opportunity for HELCOM and its sister organizations to consider best practices for response related risk assessments at a series of four project workshops: Helsinki (June 2017), Lisbon (October 2017, hosted by Lisbon Agreement), Malta (Spring-Summer 2018) as well as a final event during autumn 2018.Information on the OpenRisk is available from the project website: .The outcome of the RESPONSE 23-2017 is available .* * *Note for editorsHELCOM 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.The HELCOM Response Working Group works to ensure swift national and international responses to maritime pollution incidents, including in case of accident the availability of appropriate equipment and the joint practice of response procedures in cooperation with neighbouring states. The group also coordinates the aerial surveillance of maritime shipping routes to detect oil spills and other potentially harmful.OpenRisk is a two-year project linked to the Response Working Group focussed on developing risk assessment methods for accidental maritime spills, co-financed by the European Commission DG ECHO (Civil Protection Financial Instrument, project ECHO/SUB/2016/740178/PREV26).* * * For more information, please contact:Hermanni Backer Professional Secretary for Maritime, Response and Fish groups HELCOM Tel: +358 46 8509199 E-mail: hermanni.backer(at)helcom.fiValtteri LaineOpenRisk Project ManagerTel: +358 40 3527689E-mail: valtteri.laine@helcom.fi 

HELCOM-led OpenRisk project presents first results and gathers views on risk assessment methods for spill prevention, preparedness and response purposes at first workshop in Helsinki 13-14 June.

HELCOM overview tracks progress of oiled wildlife response in the Baltic Sea countries

Five out of nine Baltic Sea countries have plans in place for wildlife polluted from marine spillsAccording to a new released today, five Baltic Sea countries have established plans for handling polluted wildlife during marine pollution incidents, mostly created via active partnerships between authorities and NGOs. Other coastal countries are still identifying proper approaches and developing resources.Different approaches to wildlife response have been selected by those Baltic Sea coastal countries which have procedures in place. Some countries have chosen cleaning and rehabilitation of polluted wildlife as the default approach, others apply euthanasia unless species with conservation interest are involved.Images of oiled wildlife are among the strongest symbols of accidental spills. However, nationally coordinated strategies on how to deal with wildlife affected by spills is a surprisingly recent phenomenon and still relatively rare worldwide.Photo: Antti Haavisto/WWFIn the Baltic Sea, explicit regional cooperation on oiled wildlife response appeared first with the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan of 2007. The first dedicated regional legal instrument on oiled wildlife response cooperation in the Baltic Sea was on integrated wildlife response planning, adopted in 2010.Based on the HELCOM Recommendation 31E/6 and 2013 HELCOM Ministerial Declaration, the Baltic Sea coastal countries are to develop a wildlife response plan, integrated into oil pollution contingency plans, either on a national or sub-national/local level by 2016, and to apply the commonly agreed guidelines on its contents including e.g. aims, minimum standards and involvement of volunteers.A dedicated HELCOM
Expert Working Group on Oiled Wildlife Response (EWG OWR) was set up in 2014 to support the implementation of these goals.”HELCOM is currently the only Regional Agreement in the world that has set genuine aims for the integration of oiled wildlife preparedness and response in national and regional emergency response systems” says Hugo Nijkamp, chair of the HELCOM EWG-OWR. “Still there is work to do in order to meet the set targets in this field of oil spill response, but as a result of progress made so far, some countries are definitely better prepared and there are lots of interesting lessons learned.” Download the Report on the status of national wildlife response plans in the Baltic Sea .***Note for editors works to ensure swift national and international responses to maritime pollution incidents, including in case of accident the availability of appropriate equipment and the joint practice of response procedures in cooperation with neighbouring states. The group also coordinates the released into the Baltic Sea and help identify suspected polluters. The meetings of the HELCOM RESPONSE Group have been held regularly among all Baltic Sea countries and EU for over thirty years. The Response group includes Expert Working Group on Oiled Wildlife Response (EWG OWR), HELCOM Expert Coordination Network on Response on the Shore (SHORE network), Informal Working Group on Aerial Surveillance (IWGAS) and HELCOM Expert Group on Environmental Risks of Hazardous Submerged Objects (SUBMERGED).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:Hugo NijkampChair, HELCOM EWG OWRTel. +32494900012Email: nijkamp(at)sea-alarm.orgSusanna KaasinenHELCOM Secretariat (report editor)Tel. +358 40 536 5819Email: susanna.kaasinen(at)helcom.fiHermanni BackerProfessional SecretaryHELCOM ResponseTel. +358468509199Email: Hermanni.backer(at)helcom.fi​

According to a new HELCOM report released today, five Baltic Sea countries have established plans for handling polluted wildlife during marine pollution incidents, mostly created via active partnerships between authorities and NGOs.

New HELCOM project on evaluating risks for oil spills will start 2017

​​​OPENRISK project on risk assessment methods for spill prevention, preparedness and response purposes covers the Baltic Sea area Revised procedures for on shore spill response endorsed by HELCOM Response group meeting this weekRussia to host 2017 HELCOM operational spill response exercise in Kaliningrad​​Thoroughly revised regional procedures on response to pollution incidents on the shore were approved by the 22nd of the HELCOM Response Working closing yesterday. The revised Manual will be submitted to the 2017 Annual Meeting of HELCOM for final adoption. HELCOM response manual incorporate regional best practice and operational procedures on spill preparedness and response and was first adopted in 1980sOn shore response has also been practiced regionally in recent years. Photo: Maritime Search and Rescue Service​, PolandThe Meeting welcomed also the new HELCOM-led OPENRISK project on risk assessment methods for spill prevention, preparedness and response purposes. The new initiative will last for two years starting January 2017. OPENRISK will involve national institutions but also regional intergovernmental organisations from the wider European area.In addition, Russia welcomed the Baltic Sea coastal countries and EU to the 2017 HELCOM operational spill response exercise that Russia will arrange in the beginning of August 2017 in the Kaliningrad areaThe 22st Meeting of the HELCOM Response Working Group was held on 8-10 November 2016 in Riga, Latvia and chaired by Ms. Heli Haapasaari, Chair of the Response Working Group. All documents are available at the . * * * 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.​The HELCOM Response Working works to ensure swift national and international responses to maritime pollution incidents, including in case of accident the availability of appropriate equipment and the joint practice of response procedures in cooperation with neighbouring states. The group also coordinates the aerial surveillance of maritime shipping routes to detect oil spills and other potentially harmful 

HELCOM Response group also endorsed the revised procedures for on shore spill response and welcomed that Russia will host the 2017 operational spill response exercise in Kaliningrad.