Today, the Baltic Sea Pilot Project on testing new concepts for integrated environmental monitoring of the Baltic Sea () brings together experts from all countries around the Baltic Sea to the project kick-off meeting in Helsinki. The basis of all work is coordinated of the state of the marine environment, human pressures on the environment and impacts of any actions to reduce such pressures. A key focus of the new EU-funded Project is on strengthening the capacity of the Baltic Sea states to develop their environmental monitoring programmes, including compatibility of data from different monitoring schemes, and ultimately, to lift the integrated joint monitoring to a new level regionally. In the BALSAM Meeting, more detailed action plan for the next 18 months will take shape. An important task for BALSAM, with its 19 consortium partners, is providing input to the on-going revision of HELCOM’s coordinated joint monitoring system, initiated with the revised HELCOM Monitoring and Assessment Strategy which was adopted in the HELCOM 2013 Copenhagen Ministerial Meeting last month. The process will continue in 2013-2014, with the development of a monitoring manual describing the revised joint coordinated monitoring system for the Baltic Sea and, in 2015, with the review and revision of the common monitoring guidelines.Moreover, BALSAM will upgrade the preparedness of the Baltic Sea region’s EU member states for implementing the monitoring requirements of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). Other main areas of BALSAM work involve cross-border coordination and joint activities especially related to monitoring of biodiversity, i.e. marine mammals, water birds and non-indigenous species in ports and benthic biotopes. Also, a decision support tool will be developed for non-indigenous species monitoring in ports for use under the MSFD as well as the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention. The Project will make recommendations for enhancing coherence and synergies between environmental and fisheries monitoring, and data compatibility. This part of the work will be carried out in cooperation with the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES). As described in the initial Project plans, BALSAM aims to improve shared and coordinated use of research vessels for monitoring between the countries, which will enhance resource- and cost-efficiency of monitoring in the Baltic Sea region. Importantly, BALSAM will also share experiences with similar projects in the North Sea and in the Mediterranean – Black Sea to ensure inter-regional coherence.The project consortium is coordinated by the HELCOM Secretariat. * * *Note for editors:The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as , is an intergovernmental organisation 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 governed 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:Johanna KarhuProject Coordinator – BALSAMHELCOM Tel: +358 40 661 9040 Skype: helcom63E-mail: Johanna Laurila Information Secretary HELCOM Tel: +358 40 523 8988 Skype: helcom70 E-mail:
HELCOM pilot project on regional integrated monitoring kicks off today.