Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission


Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

HELCOM Aliens 2

Background ​

Transport and introductions of alien species is perceived as one of the primary threats to the coastal ecosystems worldwide. In the Baltic Sea Action Plan the Contracting States agreed to ratify the 2004 International Convention for Control and Management of Ship’ Ballast Water and Sediments​ (BWM Convention) no later than 2013 and it will be instrumental in reducing the risk of transfer of alien species to the Baltic Sea when it enters into force.
According to the BWM Convention, ships will be required to implement ballast water management unless an exemption has been granted following a risk assessment. The Road Map towards harmonized implementation and ratification of the BWM Convention, adopted as part of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan, requires arriving at a unified Baltic Sea exemption system. 
The 2010 HELCOM Moscow Ministerial Meeting adopted the Guidance to distinguish between unacceptable high risk scenarios and acceptable low risk scenarios – a risk of spreading of alien species by ships on intra-Baltic voyages. The Guidance was tested within the HELCOM project ALIENS 1 -Pilot risk assessments of alien species transfer on intra-Baltic ship voyages. However, availability of data on alien species and environmental conditions in ports, a pre-requisite for carrying out reliable risk assessments, was largely absent. Data availability and selection of target species for the purpose of the risk assessments was identified as the next most urgent topics to be dealt with on a regional basis.

Aims ​

In order to create reliable port profiles of alien species, it was essential that the same survey protocols with the same level of detaill were followed in each port throughout the Baltic. Also, for equality in the decision making, the same risk assessment and decision making protocols should be used throughout the area. Therefore, the project aimed to propose a regionally harmonized method for granting exemptions from ballast water treatment (BWM Convention A-4) for marine traffic in the Baltic Sea. This was accomplished through three work packages:
WP 1. The project will identify target species for the risk assessments relevant for intra-Baltic ship voyages.WP 2. The project will propose protocols on biological surveys in ports of the Baltic Sea to be commonly applied when surveying the ports for the purposes of gathering the information on alien species, taking into account the need for and benefits of having a consistent approach with the North Sea region.WP 3. The project will propose how to structure the collected data to support the decision-making on exemptions (according to regulation A-4 of the BWMC). This will include a structure for sharing of information as well as developing decision support tools.​

Project Execution​

The project was executed by a team consisting of Project Researcher Ms. Riikka Puntila (HELCOM Secretariat), Project Adviser Ms. Maiju Lehtiniemi (SYKE), Ms. Karin Heyer (BSH) andMs. Kerstin Stelzer (Brockman Consult). 
The project implementation was facilitated by HELCOM Professional Secretary Mr. Hermanni Backer, the Project Core Group as well as HELCOM Correspondence Group on the implementation of the Ballast Water Road Map. 
The project started in December 2011 and finished by the end of 2012.