Comprehensive holistic assessment of the Baltic Sea is to be set off in the 2-day starting today, joined by the Heads of Delegations of from all Baltic coastal countries as well as the EU and representatives of major organizations within the region. The Meeting, held in Helsinki, Finland, is also expected to decide on a new working structure for HELCOM as well as to endorse and discuss several other topics to advance the state of the marine environment. The Meeting is expected to endorse the project to develop the second HELCOM Holistic Assessment of the Ecosystem Health of the entire Baltic Sea. The need for the next comprehensive assessment has been agreed on by the HELCOM 2013 and the proposed date of final release, taking into account the cycles of other international frameworks and related national consultations, is set for mid-2018. “This major indicator-based assessment will result in improved knowledge of the status of the marine environment as well pressures and cumulative impacts from human activities. It will also inform decision-makers on effectiveness of the established measures. As in case of the first (2010), the new assessment will be a crucial instrument to follow up on the implementation of HELCOM to achieve a good environmental status of marine waters by 2021”, says Monika Stankiewicz, HELCOM Executive Secretary. Another key item in the agenda is the decision on the format for the HELCOM action , developed under the lead of Germany. Options under consideration include a new HELCOM Recommendation, constituting the so called “soft” law, an amendment to the Helsinki Convention, or a high-level agreement by the coastal countries. Such a plan, expected to be ready by 2015, is another commitment by the regional leaders in the 2013 Ministerial Declaration, and also a priority for the for HELCOM. Its aims is to significantly reduce marine litter by 2025, compared to 2015, and should entail concrete measures for prevention and reduction of marine litter from its main sources; develop common indicators and associated targets related to quantities, composition, sources and pathways of marine litter; and identify the socio-economic and biological impacts of marine litter. The second workshop to prepare the marine litter action plan is taking place in October 2014 in Germany. Other topics of the Meeting include the expected deletion of one site in the so-called HELCOM , itemizing significant regional sources for pollution. If all the members allow, the major sewage collector in St. Petersburg north – Hot Spot No. 18.1 – will be cleared from the list. Moreover, the establishment of a special group for data regarding maritime spatial planning will be addressed by the Meeting. The need for comprehensive, up-to-date and reliable spatial data for Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) has been recognized in different fora and HELCOM, having been in the forefront of regional MSP, would have the structures ready to nurture and host such activity. Major HELCOM delegate meetings take place few times a year, to ensure the continuous identification of any knowledge gaps and to assess other needs and best measures for optimal end use for decision makers in the region. All the will be public after the Meeting has ended in the HELCOM Meeting Portal. * * *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. * * *For further information, please contact:Johanna LaurilaInformation SecretaryHELCOMTel: +358 40 523 8988Skype: helcom70E-mail: johanna.laurila(at)helcom.fi
Heads of Delegations of HELCOM are also expected to decide on a new working structure for HELCOM as well as to endorse several other topics to advance the state of the marine environment.