Better reporting on harmful discharges other than oil from ships to the Baltic Sea is discussed by the HELCOM on aerial surveillance, continuing its 2-day annual meeting in Sopot, Poland. The main focus of the Baltic aerial surveillance cooperation has traditionally been on detection of illegal discharges of mineral oil, while more systematic reporting on other harmful substances observed from air would also be needed. Photo: Netherlands Coast GuardThe group also continues to develop the pressure indicator of oil spills affecting the marine environment. This is a part of the larger HELCOM process of holistically assessing the Baltic Sea, not succeeding without solid information not just about the status but also about pressures towards the environment and the human activities behind it. The oil spill indicator, one of the many expecting finalization in June 2015, will be based on the data on illegal oil spills collected since the 1980’s. In addition, the meeting will plan for the next pollution control operations. For having a realistic estimate of the total number of oil spills discharged into the Baltic Sea during a randomly selected period, Coordinated Extended Pollution Control Operations (CEPCO) are organized at least twice a year within the HELCOM framework. These high-intensity operations vary in length and are from time to time organized jointly with the North Sea countries. The meeting will discuss for the next CEPCOs, for which the timing is kept strictly confidential until the operations are over. Moreover, the group is in charge of compiling the annual report on aerial surveillance activities in the Baltic Sea in 2014, expecting soon its official release after the review of the expert group. * * *Note for editors:The HELCOM Informal Working Group on Aerial Surveillance () works to implement the aerial surveillance cooperation, as agreed on by all the HELCOM parties.Cooperation on Baltic aerial surveillance was established within the HELCOM framework in the 1980s, requiring the Member States to conduct regular surveillance outside their coastlines. This includes developing and applying, individually or in cooperation, surveillance activities covering the Baltic Sea area.The purpose of aerial surveillance is to detect spills of oil and other harmful substances which can threaten the marine environment. 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.Data on illegal discharges observed during national aerial surveillance activities of the coastal states in the Baltic Sea area are compiled by HELCOM every year. * * *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:Laura Meski Assistant Professional Secretary HELCOM Tel: +358 40 162 2053 Skype: helcom82 E-mail: laura.meski(at)helcom.fi Johanna LaurilaInformation SecretaryHELCOMTel: +358 40 523 8988Skype: helcom70E-mail: johanna.laurila(at)helcom.fi
Reporting on harmful discharges other than oil from ships to the Baltic Sea is a key topic in the expert group meeting.