The , consisting of competent pollution incident authorities of all the Baltic Sea coastal countries and European Union services, convenes today for its regular three day meeting in Szczecin, Poland.Under the Chairmanship of Mr. , Swedish Coast Guard, the participants will i.a. share information on last year’s response operations, discuss revision of the hazardous and noxious substances sections of the HELCOM Manual on Co-operation on Marine Pollution response (the HELCOM Response manual) as well as consider the future of HELCOM communication procedures related to notifying and requesting assistance to spills in light of new EU developments.The Meeting will also consider implementation of other pollution preparedness and response issues highlighted by the 2013 HELCOM Ministerial Meeting. * * *Note to Editors:The HELCOM cooperation on Baltic regional pollution preparedness and response has been in place since 1976. The working group, currently entitled , has created a highly operational regional response system covering all the Baltic Sea countries, where information on accidents and illegal pollution, as well as response fleet and capacity, are shared with a minimum delay. The procedure is documented in the HELCOM Response Manual.The HELCOM RESPONSE Group also coordinates the aerial surveillance of maritime shipping routes to provide a complete picture of sea-based pollution around the Baltic, and to help identify suspected polluters. The present Chair of the Group is Mr. of the Swedish Coast Guard.Although growing traffic is a positive sign of intensified cooperation in the Baltic Sea region and a prospering economy, it also makes potentially polluting shipping accidents more likely. Collisions and groundings have increased, and these days there are some 120–140 shipping accidents in the Baltic Sea area every year. Fortunately, most of the accidents in the Baltic do not cause notable pollution. Over the period 2000–2009, an average of 7% of all reported accidents resulted in some kind of pollution. However, even just one large-scale accident would seriously threaten the marine environment. Two of the five most serious accidents in the Baltic marine area have occurred since 2001 – involving “Baltic Carrier” in 2001 (2,700 tons of oil spilt), and “Fu Shan Hai” in 2003 (1,200 tons of oil spilt). * * * (Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission) 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. 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. The Convention has also targeted provisions on response to pollution incidents. * * *For more information, please contact:Hermanni BackerProfessional Secretary for Response, Maritime and Maritime Spatial PlanningHELCOMTel: +358 (0)46 850 9199Fax: +358 (0)207 412 645E-mail: Hermanni.firstname.lastname@example.orgSkype: helcom02 Johanna LaurilaInformation SecretaryHELCOMTel: +358 (0)40 523 8988Fax: +358 (0)207 412 639E-mail: email@example.comSkype: helcom70
Baltic Sea pollution incident authorities gather for annual review and planning for future.