Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

Protection of Baltic Sea biodiversity taking steps forward

The species, habitats and biotopes with the highest risk of extinction in the Baltic Sea will get better protection through a new, up-to-date Recommendation, as agreed by the 2013 HELCOM Ministerial , and the first draft plans are now discussed in the on-going Meeting of the Nature Protection and Biodiversity Group () in Gothenburg, Sweden. The , in its annual 4-day Meeting, also addresses a great number of other issues under the overall goal of the Baltic Sea Action Plan – a favourable status for the Baltic Sea biodiversity. HELCOM Sturgeon Rehabilitation aims to restore viable populations of the sturgeon through concrete conservation actions. Photo: Aimar Rakko/Wildlife EstoniaThe significant HELCOM Projects’ accomplishments last year on Red Lists of , and related will show the way to the EU level within the project “Establishment of a European Red List of Habitats”, which will be discussed in the Meeting. The main aim of the Project is to provide reliable and timely information on the status and trends of biodiversity across Europe, starting by selecting national biotope experts and reviewing the adaptability of the widely used international IUCN criteria. HELCOM will take the lead in the Baltic Sea.  A species already extinct from the region, the Baltic sturgeon, is under rescue through a recent initiative, the HELCOM Sturgeon Rehabilitation . The Group aims to restore viable populations of the sturgeon through concrete conservation actions, first by planning for a large scale project to be launched in 2015. Furthermore, progress on improving and restoring Baltic biodiversity will be inspected from several other angles such as the status of harbour porpoise and seals in the Baltic. Among the other issues in the Meeting agenda is the continued work on marine protected areas (MPAs) to follow up the newly adopted HELCOM Recommendation .The Meeting discussed the renewal of the HELCOM MPA database and the next assessment of ecological coherence of the MPA network. The Meeting will now follow up on the content of the national management plans and their effectiveness. As the HELCOM 2013 Copenhagen Ministerial Meeting also agreed to strive for active and regionally harmonized data collection, the HABITAT Meeting will discuss an initiative to set up a biodiversity data portal. Along with monitoring and indicators, this would greatly support the upcoming biodiversity assessment of the Baltic Sea. The Meeting is chaired by the Vice-Chair of HELCOM HABITAT, Ms. Penina Blankett, Finland.Documents for HELCOM HABITAT 16-2014 can be uploaded after the Meeting from the . * * *Note for editors:, which is one of the HELCOM Working Groups involving all the Baltic coastal states, works to conserve and protect biodiversity, species and habitats of the Baltic Sea. HABITAT promotes the sustainable use of living marine resources and aims to ensure that the environmental protection needs are duly considered in different activities that affect the marine environment, by using tools such as spatial planning and environmental impact assessments. 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:Ulla Li Zweifel Professional Secretary – GEAR, HABITAT & MONAS HELCOM Tel. +358 46 850 9198  Skype: helcom64 E-mail: ullali.zweifel(@) Johanna Laurila Information Secretary HELCOM Tel: +358 40 523 8988 Skype: helcom70E-mail: johanna.laurila(@)

Species, habitats and biotopes with highest risk of extinction in the agenda of HELCOM Nature Protection and Biodiversity Group Meeting