Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

First international network planned for monitoring offshore water birds in the Baltic

The lack of a joint network to monitor and share data
on Baltic offshore water birds will be among the issues addressed in the HELCOM

meetings in Tallinn, Estonia, this week.
has for long had a high focus on coordinated international environmental
monitoring for the Baltic. The EU co-funded BALSAM aims to enhance the
coordination, as well as fill gaps in the regional monitoring work by strengthening
the capacity of the
Baltic Sea coastal countries in their monitoring of water birds, benthic
habitats, seals and non-indigenous species in ports. “Coordinated
monitoring of the offshore water bird has not been carried out in the Baltic before
and the aim is now to build a platform to start international collaboration to
monitor and share data on the birds. Coordinated efforts in monitoring would help
protect endangered seabirds in the Baltic, such as Steller’s eider and long-tailed
duck”, says Ainars Aunins from the Latvian Fund for Nature, coordinator of the
seabird platform.The BALSAM Project
also contributes to the revision of the HELCOM joint monitoring programme and the
development of the online joint HELCOM Monitoring Manual. The Manual will assist
the EU member states in their reporting for the Marine Strategy Framework
Directive (MSFD) and is expected to be available online in the autumn of 2014. In
the BALSAM Meetings this week, the main focus will be on contributing to the Manual,
discussing the establishment of a platform for water bird monitoring as well as
drafting a manual on benthic habitat monitoring for the Baltic.   “Currently no regular monitoring exists for
Baltic Sea benthic habitats, although habitat mapping has started in many
countries. Our goal is to prepare a manual with recommendations on how to
monitor the habitats in the future” says Georg Martin from the Estonian Marine
ensures harmonized approaches also in an interregional level, by cooperating
with two other pilot projects in the North Sea (JMP NS/CS) and in the
Mediterranean (IRIS-SES). Further, BALSAM will provide recommendations to enhance
coordinated use of research vessels in the Baltic Sea. The project started on 1
October 2013 and will run until the end of March 2015. (all documents public after the
meeting), 7-8 May
2014, Tallinn, Estonia  * * *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 further information, please contact:Johanna KarhuBALSAM Project CoordinatorHELCOM
Tel. +358 406619040
Skype: helcom63E-mail: Johanna Laurila
Information SecretaryHELCOM
Tel: +358 40 523 8988
Skype: helcom70

The lack of a joint network to monitor and share data on offshore water birds will be among the issues addressed in the HELCOM BALSAM Project meetings in Tallinn, Estonia, this week.