Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission


Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

HELCOM to co-host a workshop on submerged munitions in the Baltic Sea at this year’s EUSBSR Annual Forum

The 14th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) will take place in Riga on 4-5 October 2023. The theme of this year’s forum is Safe and Sustainable Baltic Sea Region for Future Generations, with special focus on climate affairs, green energy and future generations.

As part of the forum’s programme, HELCOM will co-host a workshop with Pomorskie Region and the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) on Submerged munitions in the Baltic Sea – environmental, security and other challenges on 4 October at 15:00-16:30 EEST. HELCOM’s Executive Secretary Rüdiger Strempel will be one of the speakers in the workshop.

Additionally, HELCOM will showcase its work related to maritime spatial planning (MSP) and hazardous substances at the expo area of the Networking Village on 5 October, which will take place at the Small Guild.

For more information about the forum and HELCOM’s presence there, please visit the event page.

Vacancy: Professional Secretary (WG GEAR, WG BioDiv, WG Fish) at the HELCOM Secretariat 

Applications are invited for the post of Professional Secretary at the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission – Helsinki Commission (HELCOM) Secretariat to coordinate the work related to three subsidiary bodies of HELCOM: Working Group on the Implementation of the Ecosystem Approach (WG GEAR), Working Group on Biodiversity, Protection and Restoration (WG BioDiv) and Working Group on Ecosystem-based Sustainable Fisheries (WG Fish). Closing date: 4 Dec 2023

The post, which is based in Helsinki, Finland, will become vacant on 1 July 2024. For the full vacancy announcement, go here.

Launching the new HELCOM Map and Data Service

The new HELCOM Map and data service (MADS) website is now live. Thanks to the Baltic Data Flows project, the HELCOM MADS has undergone a significant refresh of its user interface and visualization functionalities. Improvements include a modern and responsive user interface along with new widgets such as query layer and export map.

The new HELCOM MADS with improved data layering and viewing functionality.

As with the previous MADS website, datasets are grouped under eight different ‘services’ that can be accessed using the free text search tool or by browsing the services layer tree (shown in the screenshot below). Multiple data layers can be added to the map explorer for conducting unique queries and analyses.

The data is also available in vector and raster formats and accessible as a service (ArcGIS Rest, OGC WMS, WFS). Each dataset is linked to the INSPIRE-compliant HELCOM Metadata catalogue record, where the data can be downloaded. 

The free text search bar and services layer tree navigation tool.

Following the selection of one or multiple datasets, the data is displayed on the map. The ‘map layers info’ box allows the further exploration of data through the selection of widgets, as shown in the screenshot below. In addition, up to 12 background maps can be selected to obtain the most relevant visualization for the user’s needs. Maps generated by users can then be printed or exported in various file formats.

Ideas for improvements were collected via user survey at the start of the project in April 2021. We are now collecting feedback on the new HELCOM MADS website to inform the project KPIs. Please take the survey here and tell us what you think (it will take less than 5 minutes).

Written by Matthew Richard, who is the Project Coordinator for the Baltic Data Flows project. This post was originally published on the Baltic Data Flows project website.

Multiple vacancies open for the PROTECT BALTIC project

We are currently recruiting project staff for an EU-funded PROTECT BALTIC project, a large-scale pan-Baltic project focused on marine protection.

For more information please visit the vacancy page.

Photo by Linda Eller-Shein at Pexels

HELCOM joins the UN 2023 Water Conference and pledges commitments for the Water Action Agenda

This week the UN 2023 Water Conference gathers stakeholders from all sectors in New York to create global momentum to accelerate progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: ensuring the sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.  

HELCOM takes part in a side event Source-to-sea collaboration: A game changer for the whole water cycle on Thursday 23 March at 17:00 EST (23:00 EET), when Lotta Ruokanen joins a panel discussion on Preparing the foundations for source-to-sea governance. The side event is livestreamed on UN Web TV.

The main outcome of the conference is the Water Action Agenda, which is a collection of water-related voluntary commitments undertaken by governments, the United Nations system, other intergovernmental organizations, NGOs and civil society organizations, and many other actors to accelerate progress in the second half of the Water Action Decade 2018-2028 and second half of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

HELCOM has pledged three commitments for the Water Action Agenda, including:  

You can browse all commitments here.

Thinking outside the box at the Baltic Stakeholder Conference 2023

This year’s Baltic Stakeholder Conference (BSC2023) was held last week on 9 March 2023, with the aim of harvesting ideas from stakeholders around the sea – and beyond – for accelerating the implementation of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan.

More than 200 participants from the public, the private and nonprofit sectors all sharing an interest in achieving a healthy Baltic Sea registered for the online event.

The programme included presentations and discussions on awareness raising, municipal level implementation, private sector cooperation and financing, encouraging the participants to brainstorm outside-the-box solutions for both long-standing and emerging challenges.

The online event was hosted by Latvia, which currently holds the chairmanship of HELCOM.

All presentations given at the conference as well as the memo including the session summaries are available on the BSC2023 website.

FAQ: HELCOM and the “strategic pause” – what has been going on?

Almost a year ago, on 4 March 2022, a strategic pause of HELCOM was announced. What does that mean in practice?

On 4 March 2022, against the background of the still ongoing geopolitical crisis, the German Chairmanship of HELCOM issued a statement declaring that the European Union and the Contracting Parties to the Helsinki Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area that are Member States of the European Union (H 9) unanimously agreed that they could not currently engage in business as usual with the Russian Federation in the context of HELCOM.

Therefore, the Chairmanship, in agreement with the H 9, suspended all official meetings of HELCOM bodies and meetings of project groups with Russian involvement under the HELCOM umbrella with immediate effect. This concerned all HELCOM Working Groups, Expert Groups, and other subsidiary bodies of the Commission, as well as the HELCOM projects. The meetings were not cancelled, but rather postponed until further notice.

The suspension has been prolonged until further notice under the current Latvian Chairmanship of HELCOM. However, it does not imply that HELCOM as such has ceased operations.

Has HELCOM been doing anything since?

Since the declaration of the strategic pause in March of last year there have been no official meetings of HELCOM bodies, but HELCOM has remained operational and continues to work for the protection of the Baltic Sea environment. HELCOM activities, such as the implementation of the 2021 Baltic Sea Action Plan and the third Holistic Assessment of the Baltic Sea (HOLAS 3), are on track and envisioned timelines are being observed. There is neither an interruption nor a delay in HELCOM operations.

Is Russia still a part of HELCOM?

Yes, the Helsinki Convention remains in force and Russia is still a Contracting Party to the Convention.

Survey on expanded plastics (EPS/XPS) from buoys, floats or docks, including pontoons

Please take a moment to answer this survey by 1 June 2023, especially if you represent the plastic industry, environmental protection agencies and/or the fisheries sector.

The answers will help develop buoys, floats and docks, which do not release expanded polystyrene (EPS) and other problematic materials to the marine environment, as a part of implementing the HELCOM Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter.

The completion of the survey will take ca 20-30 minutes.

Thank you for your contribution!

Improving HOLAS 3 advocacy: please answer to a short survey by 28 February 2023

HELCOM Secretariat wants to be more targeted and effective in advocating the forthcoming Third holistic assessment of the Baltic Sea (HOLAS 3), by collecting information on different key target groups.

HELCOM prepares holistic assessments of the state of the Baltic Sea at regular intervals, to track progress on the effectiveness of measures and actions, created to improve the state of the sea.

📌 Please answer to this online survey to give your input:

📌 Answering the survey will take 2-3 minutes. Please provide your replies by 28 February 2023.

📌 Feel free to share the survey extensively with your colleagues or any relevant networks.

Help us improve the protection of the Baltic marine environment! 
We appreciate your help very much.


Mock Employee
Johanna Laurila

Communications Advisor
+358 647 3996

New results on improving the state of the Baltic Sea are tailored for both knowledge-gap and policy needs

HELCOM BLUES Project had its Final Conference online last week and the memo, as well as all presentations and the recording of the Conference, can be now accessed at the project site.

Recording of the BLUES Final Conference

New results regarding Baltic Sea biodiversity, marine litter and underwater noise, as well as effective regional measures addressing various pressures affecting the sea, were presented, including key messages for both science and policy makers. Few new HELCOM indicators have been created within the Project, as well as further developing the existing ones.

Most parts of the project have been designed so that they can be utilized straight by the forthcoming HELCOM Holistic Assessment of the Baltic Sea (HOLAS 3). The work also closely links to other processes related to good environmental status (GES) in the Baltic Sea, such as the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MFSD) and the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP).

Good environmental status, or GES, and a Baltic Sea in a healthy state has been at the core of the BLUES project. “GES is has become a buzzword, but it is important to remember that underpinning the work to reach good status of the environment as part of various policies, is the reality that our society is part of the environment. GES is not external to our own existence and wellbeing but something that has a direct effect on us”, reminded the manager of the project, Jannica Haldin, in her remarks at the end of the Conference.

BLUES Final Conference web page