Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

On-shore pollution response in the Baltic Sea becomes part of international law

The Helsinki 1992, the
international legal treaty on the Baltic Sea between the coastal countries of
the Baltic and the EU, was changed yesterday 1 July, according to a decision
taken at the 2013 HELCOM Ministerial
last October. >> >The changes strengthens the
Baltic Sea pollution response cooperation in situations where oil or other
substance has reached the shore.> >>The 2013 HELCOM Ministerial
Meeting adopted this change, or amendment, as part of HELCOM Recommendation “Amendments
to Annex VII ‘Response to Pollution Accidents’ of the 1992 Helsinki Convention,
concerning response on the shore”. The Recommendation specified a formal
consultation period as well as 1 July 2014 as date for entry into force of the
new text of Annex VII.>On-shore response rehearsed in Ventspils, Latvia 11 June 2014 during HELCOM international Balex Delta exercise. Photo: HELCOM > >The 2013 Ministerial Meeting
agreed also on the expansion of the regional HELCOM Response Manual. The new of the Manual focuses especially on response to pollution incidents on
the shore, defining a common approach on how to plan and carry out
international combating operations for response on the shore in the Baltic Sea
region.>> >In contrast to the HELCOM
response cooperation at sea, which has been in place since the 1974 adoption of
the original Helsinki Convention, revised in 1992, such response on the shore
has been less a regional matter.>> >HELCOM has a targeted Expert
Working Group on response on the shore working since 2008 under the HELCOM . The
currently chaired by Ms. Sonja Dobo, Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency.>>>* * *>Note to Editors:>>The
Baltic Sea today is one of the busiest seas in the world. There are about 2,000
ships in the Baltic marine area at any given moment.>>Although
growing traffic is a positive sign of intensified cooperation in the Baltic Sea
region and a prospering economy, it also makes potentially polluting shipping
accidents more likely. Collisions and groundings have increased, and these days
there are some 120-140 shipping accidents in the Baltic Sea area every year.
Fortunately, most of the accidents in the Baltic do not cause notable
pollution. Over the period 2000–2009, an average of 7% of all reported
accidents resulted in some kind of pollution. However, even just one
large-scale accident would seriously threaten the marine environment. Two of
the five most serious accidents in the Baltic marine area have occurred since
2001, involving “Baltic Carrier” in 2001 (2,700 tons of oil spilt), and “Fu
Shan Hai” in 2003 (1,200 tons of oil spilt). >> >
works to ensure swift national and international response to maritime pollution
incidents and that in case of an accident the right equipment is available and
routines are in place to respond immediately in cooperation with neighbouring
states. The Group also coordinates the aerial surveillance of maritime shipping
routes to provide a complete picture of sea-based pollution around the Baltic,
and to help identify suspected polluters. The meetings of the HELCOM RESPONSE
Group have been held regularly among all Baltic Sea countries and EU for over
thirty years.> >>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: >>Hermanni
Professional Secretary for Maritime, Response and Maritime Spatial Planning
Tel:  +358 46 8509199
Skype: helcom02
E-mail: hermanni.backer(at)> >>

Johanna Laurila
Information Secretary
Tel: +358 40 523 8988
Skype: helcom70
E-mail: johanna.laurila(at)

The Helsinki Convention 1992, the international legal treaty on the Baltic Sea between the coastal countries of the Baltic and the EU, was changed yesterday 1 July.