Protection of biodiversity and assessing the state of the environment will be addressed this week by the meeting of the HELCOM State & Conservation in Helsinki, Finland. The participants arriving from the whole Baltic region represent the member countries of HELCOM as well as observer organizations.HELCOM displays real-time locations of Baltic research vessels that are used for monitoring.In its biannual meeting the group is expected to finalize the draft HELCOM Recommendation on Co-operation and coordination of research vessel based monitoring (12-1). Once passed, the Recommendation will improve coordination of cruises carried out under the HELCOM coordinated monitoring programme and facilitate the granting of permits of such cruises. Another recent tool for improving coordination is the HELCOM on-line for sharing information on planned and completed cruises, also showing the real time vessel positions based on HELCOM Automatic Identification System () for ships. Another major topic of the meeting, after the recent launch of the fully modernized of the Baltic Sea coastal and marine protected areas (HELCOM MPAs), is to agree on the methodology for assessing the ecological coherence of these sites. Ecological coherence of the HELCOM MPA network is important as it contributes significantly to biological diversity through e.g. increasing representation and connectivity of species and biotopes. HELCOM has agreed to achieve a coherent and effectively managed network of marine protected areas and the upcoming assessment of ecological coherence will show the progress towards reaching this goal. Moreover, the development of Baltic wide maps of species and biotopes will be agreed at the meeting. Maps informing on the spatial distribution of Baltic Sea biodiversity features willserve multiple purpose in future HELCOM activities such as the upcoming 2nd HELCOM holistic assessment and Red list assessment. Furthermore, the meeting will continue the diligent task to review and revise HELCOM monitoring guidelines, a task that will continue to ensure quality assured and comparable data in the Baltic Sea region. The meeting will be co-chaired by Urmas Lips, Marine Systems Institute at Tallinn University of Technology, and Penina Blankett, Ministry of the Environment of Finland. All documents will be public after the meeting. * * *Note for editors The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as , 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. HELCOM State & Conservation covers the monitoring and assessment functions as well as nature conservation and biodiversity protection in HELCOM. The group works across the monitoring-indicators-assessment chain for the coordinated development of HELCOM thematic assessment tools, as well as for a coherent holistic assessment of the ecosystems health. * * * For more information, please contact:Ulla Li ZweifelProfessional SecretaryHELCOMTel. +358 46 850 9198Skype: helcom64E-mail: ullali.zweifel(at)helcom.fi Johanna LaurilaInformation SecretaryHELCOMTel: +358 40 523 8988Skype: helcom70E-mail: johanna.laurila(at)helcom.fi
Regional coordination of research vessel cruises and ecological coherence of protected areas among key topics of the HELCOM State and Conservation group meeting.