The new HELCOM on illegal discharges in the Baltic Sea indicates a drop in flight hours, particularly in Sweden and Germany. Overall in 2013, the total hours of aerial surveillance in the HELCOM area sank by 15 % from 2012. A clear positive trend, for a number of years, is the decrease in both the size of observed mineral oil spills and the number of spills. For better protection of the Baltic marine environment from pollution, every ship entering the area is urged to comply with anti-pollution regulations. The intensive aerial surveillance has helped, by its share, to reduce illegal spills significantly in the Baltic Sea (see figure below), despite the increasing traffic. To maintain the positive trend there is a need for adequate surveillance also in the future by all HELCOM countries. In 2013, a total of 130 mineral oil spills were detected in the Baltic Sea during aerial surveillance and the total estimated volume of detected discharges was lower than ever, with 11 m3. In recent years, the number of observations of other harmful discharges than oil has increased; hence the specialized HELCOM Informal Working Group on Aerial Surveillance (IWGAS) has decided that observations of these substances will also be included in regular regional reporting, compiled by HELCOM. Co-operation on aerial surveillance within the Baltic Sea area was established during the 1980s within the HELCOM framework. Through the (Article 14, Annex VII, Regulation 7) the Contracting Parties – the nine Baltic countries and the European Union – have agreed to develop and apply, individually or in co-operation, surveillance activities covering the Baltic Sea area in order to spot and monitor oil and other substances released into the sea. If possible, the identity of a polluter should be established and a spill sampled from both the sea surface and the suspected offender on board. * * *Note for editors: works to ensure swift national and international response to maritime pollution incidents and that in case of an accident the right equipment is available and routines are in place to respond immediately in co-operation with neighbouring states. The 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 meetings of the HELCOM Response Group have been held regularly among all Baltic Sea countries and EU for over thirty years. * * *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: Laura MeskiAssisting Professional SecretaryHELCOMTel: +358 40 162 2053Skype: helcom82E-mail: laura.meski(@)helcom.fi Johanna Laurila Information Secretary HELCOM Tel: +358 40 523 8988Skype: helcom70 E-mail: johanna.laurila(@)helcom.fi
The new HELCOM report on illegal discharges in the Baltic Sea indicates a drop in flight hours in 2013.