The future of maritime activities in the Baltic Sea region, more specifically the environmental dimension and related planning work, is at the focus of the annual of the HELCOM Maritime Working starting today in Tallinn, Estonia. The Meeting is chaired by Ms. Anna Pettersson, Swedish Transport Agency.Photo: Maritime Office in GdyniaThe meeting participants will gather momentum for the future and discuss the next steps needed for the region, by drafting a Work Plan for the period 2016–2018 as well as for the purposes of HELCOM Maritime Assessment planned to be released in early 2017.A substantial issue in focus include following up the recent decisions by the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), on the enforcement of the MARPOL Annex IV special area status of the Baltic Sea. This includes particularly following up on the work carried out by the coastal countries and ports in optimising the regions’ port reception capacity of from passenger ships. The Meeting will further consider mainstreaming of new greener shipping technologies and recall the Baltic Sea NOx Emission Control Area () application which was sent by HELCOM countries to IMO MEPC 70 during the summer 2016. IMO MEPC 70 is planned to take place 24–28 October 2016.The Meeting will also discuss the regional dimensions of implementing the 2014 IMO Ballast Water Management Convention (), as recent developments will make the entry into force of the convention very likely in the near future. Regarding BWMC, the Maritime group will especially follow up the recent developments around the joint HELCOM-OSPAR procedure for risk assessments for spreading of aquatic invasive species via ballast water. The process is needed for the purposes of exemptions under BWMC reg. A-4, originally agreed in 2013 by the Baltic Sea and North-East Atlantic coastal countries as well as EU.The 16th meeting of the HELCOM Maritime Working Group will be held on 6–8 September 2016 and hosted by the Ministry of the Environment of Estonia. All the documents will be public after the meeting at the * * * Note for editorsHELCOM identifies and promotes actions to limit sea-based pollution and finds ways for safer navigation. Established in 1975, the group also deals with the harmonized implementation and enforcement of international shipping regulations. The Maritime Group includes the HELCOM-OSPAR Task Group on Ballast Water Management (regional dimensions of implementing the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention), Expert group on safety of navigation, Working group for mutual exchange and deliveries of Automatic Identification System (AIS) data, and HELCOM Cooperation Platform on Port Reception Facilities (PRF).Maritime transportation in the Baltic Sea region has steadily increased during the past decade. Transport and introductions of non-native species has been perceived as one of the primary threats to the coastal ecosystems worldwide and ships’ ballast water has been identified as one of the main vectors.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 more information, please contact:Hermanni Backer Professional Secretary for Maritime, Response and Fish groups HELCOM Tel: +358 46 8509199 Skype: helcom02 E-mail: hermanni.backer(at)helcom.fi Johanna Laurila Information Secretary HELCOM Tel: +358 40 523 8988 Skype: helcom70 E-mail: johanna.laurila(at)helcom.fi
The Maritime Working group will gather momentum for the future and discuss the next steps needed for the region in their 3-day in meeting in Tallinn, Estonia.