Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

 

Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

Major Baltic Sea policies reviewed ahead of HELCOM Ministerial Meeting

Regional ministers will discuss the state and future of the Baltic Sea marine environment in MarchHeads of Delegation of the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission meet this week to prepare ministerial outcomeHow will the Baltic Sea region respond to the call to action for the marine environment, set by the United Nations Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development? What efforts should be prioritized in order to achieve the aim of the – a healthy Baltic Sea by 2021? How should the Action Plan be adjusted based on the newest scientific knowledge and the challenges ahead? These are among the questions on the table at the 53rd HELCOM Heads of Delegation meeting today and tomorrow. The questions form the basis of the negotiations ahead of the in Brussels on 6 March, bringing together the responsible ministers from the Baltic Sea countries and the EU Commissioner for Environment. The Heads of Delegation meeting this week will focus in particular on the Declaration to be adopted at the Ministerial Meeting, which will frame the work for the Baltic Sea marine environment in the years to come.Targets: Baltic Sea Action Plan and Sustainable Development GoalsAmong the central background information for the discussions is a report following up on the actions agreed upon in the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) in 2007 and linking them to the current state of the Baltic Sea. According to the latest assessments, much has been accomplished, and there are some encouraging signals in the ecosystem, but the efforts so far have not led to the recovery of the Baltic Sea. The Heads of Delegation will discuss how to achieve stronger follow-through on the BSAP in order to reach the common goals.The Heads of Delegation will also consider how to adjust the BSAP in the light of new information. As science advances, policy-makers are better equipped than before to focus on those issues that cause the greatest harm and are the most widely distributed. There is also more and more knowledge about climate change and other issues that are developing or will emerge in the future. The adjusted plan for action will take into account the changing situation and highlight the most important measures to take. The questions about the BSAP are also central to the global context of the Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015. Governments have the primary responsibility for taking action to achieve the goals, while Regional Sea Conventions like HELCOM are well suited for considering new actions across borders in pursuit of those SDGs that relate to marine and water issues. The Baltic Sea countries have agreed to use HELCOM as the regional arena for coordinating work on ocean-related SDGs. In order to reach SDG 14 – “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources” – the Baltic Sea region needs both to accelerate work towards the goals of the Baltic Sea Action Plan and to adapt the plan based on the newest and best available science. HELCOM will use the Sustainable Development Goals as guidance when setting new priorities and targets. Preparing for the Ministerial MeetingThe outcome of the discussions between the Heads of Delegation will be an important stepping stone towards reaching Ministerial agreement. The meeting this week aims to put everything in place for the Ministerial negotiations in March.Preparations for the Ministerial Meeting have been ongoing since the meeting of high-level representatives of the Baltic Sea states and the EU in February 2017. However, the background efforts and the scientific data that underpin the discussions stretch back over several years and includes a multitude of projects. Among these are the large-scale , which will be finalized by mid-2018.  “The background work for the Ministerial Meeting draws together all the different roles and processes of HELCOM: it is a hub that provides information about the Baltic Sea environment, that produces recommendations and policies based on this information in order to improve the state of the ecosystem, and that supervises that agreements are upheld. HELCOM is the bridge between science and policy in the Baltic Sea, and the Ministerial Meeting is the highest point on that bridge,” says Monika Stankiewicz, Executive Secretary at the HELCOM Secretariat.All the meeting documents will be available in the HELCOM Meeting portal after the meeting, no login required:  * * *Note for editors:The 2018 HELCOM Ministerial Meeting will be held on 6 March in Brussels, Belgium, under the EU chairmanship of HELCOM. The Ministers of the Environment of the nine Baltic coastal states and the EU Environment Commissioner will gather to discuss the status and the future of the Baltic Sea marine environment. The outcome of the 2018 Ministerial Meeting is expected to revolve around new actions to meet the Sustainable Development Goals in the Baltic Sea, strengthening implementation of the Baltic Sea Action Plan by 2021, and adjusting the Baltic Sea Action Plan based on new knowledge and future challenges. More information on the .The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as HELCOM, is an intergovernmental organization of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union. HELCOM has worked since 1974 to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution and to ensure safety of navigation in the region. HELCOM is the governing body of the “Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area,” more usually known as the Helsinki Convention.* * *For further information, please contact:Monika Stankiewicz Executive Secretary HELCOM monika.stankiewicz(at)helcom.fiSara Estlander Communication Coordinator HELCOM +358 40 482 6103 sara.estlander(at)helcom.fi

Regional ministers will discuss the state and future of the Baltic Sea marine environment in March – Heads of Delegation of the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission meet this week to prepare ministerial outcome

Smart nutrients management in agriculture promotes shared goals

Nutrient recycling and rural water management discussed at HELCOM AGRI meeting last weekIncreasing ammonia emissions require attentionRepresentatives of national environmental and agricultural authorities as well as scientific institutions and NGOs gathered in Helsinki last week, to discuss the environmental impact of agricultural production in the Baltic Sea region along with various measures to mitigate it. Held in Helsinki on 9–10 November 2017, the 5th HELCOM Meeting focused on the opportunities for recycling nutrients, which serves both to prevent nutrients leaching into waterways and to sustain food security. Participants highlighted that despite different countries having different means and drivers to work for closing nutrients loops, the work done in all Baltic countries serves towards the common goals of sustainable development in the region. The Meeting also pointed out the significance of efficient water management in rural areas. The participants recommend shifting the focus in water management from the individual field to comprehensive solutions within river basins, incorporating land use planning and close involvement of local stakeholders, while taking into account adaptation to climate change. Another environmental aspect discussed at the Meeting was the increase in ammonia emissions, along with the resulting deposition of nitrogen on the water surface of the Baltic Sea. The participating HELCOM members agreed that the matter requires specific attention of the HELCOM society, as agriculture remains the major source of ammonia in the region.​The fifth meeting of the HELCOM Agri group was held in Helsinki on 9–10 November.. All documents will be public after the meeting.* * *Note for editorsHELCOM is an intergovernmental organization made up of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union. Founded in 1974, its primary aims as a governing body are to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution, as well as to ensure safe maritime navigation. The official name of HELCOM is the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission; it is the governing body of the Helsinki Convention.The deals with agriculture related to the implementation of an ecosystem-based approach. It includes representatives from agriculture and environmental authorities of the Baltic Sea countries, as well as EU and HELCOM Observers. The group provides a platform for agri-environmental policy measures and instruments, as well as for the joint discussion of agricultural effects on the marine environment, namely nutrient inputs and emissions. Its official name is the HELCOM Group on Sustainable Agricultural Practices.* * *For more information, please contact:Dmitry Frank-Kamenetsky Professional Secretary HELCOM Tel: +358 40 630 9933 Skype: helcom68 E-mail: dmitry.frank-kamenetsky(at)helcom.fi 

Nutrient recycling and rural water management discussed at HELCOM AGRI meeting last week – Increasing ammonia emissions require attention

Agriculture authorities discuss ways of stopping nutrients from reaching the Baltic Sea

Nutrient flow and recycling in focus at the HELCOM Agri Group meeting this weekSmart nutrients management in agriculture is in focus at the HELCOM meeting, which is currently being held in Helsinki, Finland, on 9–10 November 2017. Recent results of HELCOM assessments show that an oversupply of nutrients to the Baltic Sea from various land-based sources remains the major environmental pressure on the marine ecosystem. The largest share of nitrogen and phosphorus comes from diffuse sources, and of these, agricultural production is the most significant. Participating in the meeting are representatives of the Baltic Sea countries and the EU, among them experts from environmental and agricultural authorities and research institutions, as well as from farmers associations and environmental NGOs. Discussions will focus on drivers and obstacles for nutrient recycling in the region, including nutrient flows and means to return nutrients to the agricultural production, aimed at preventing them from leaching into the aquatic environment. Among the specific themes of the Meeting are further steps on nutrient accounting at farm level in the region, as well as innovative water management in rural areas. . All documents will be public after the meeting.* * *Note for editorsHELCOM is an intergovernmental organization made up of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union. Founded in 1974, its primary aims as a governing body are to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution, as well as to ensure safe maritime navigation. The official name of HELCOM is the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission; it is the governing body of the Helsinki Convention.The deals with agriculture related to the implementation of an ecosystem-based approach. It includes representatives from agriculture and environmental authorities of the Baltic Sea countries, as well as EU and HELCOM Observers. The group provides a platform for agri-environmental policy measures and instruments, as well as for the joint discussion of agricultural effects on the marine environment, namely nutrient inputs and emissions. Its official name is the HELCOM Group on Sustainable Agricultural Practices.* * *For more information, please contact:Dmitry Frank-Kamenetsky Professional Secretary HELCOM Tel: +358 40 630 9933 Skype: helcom68 E-mail: dmitry.frank-kamenetsky(at)helcom.fi ​

Nutrient flow and recycling in focus at the HELCOM Agri Group meeting this week

HELCOM reviews new data on nutrient input sources while continuing work on litter and sewage sludge

Data presented at the HELCOM PRESSURE Meeting 7-2017 shows that most of the nutrient input to the Baltic Sea comes from rivers The Meeting called for intensified efforts on tracking microlitter, tackling lost fishing gear, and handling sewage sludgeThe Seventh Meeting of the was held last week in Vilnius, Lithuania. The Meeting was combined with three scientific workshops between experts in monitoring of nutrients, marine litter, and waste water management, from the leading scientific institutions and universities of seven Baltic Sea countriesThe key discussion point of the Meeting was inputs of nutrients to the Baltic Sea. The project group of the Sixth HELCOM project on Pollution Load Compilation (PLC-6) has analyzed new data reported by all countries, based on a time series covering the years 1995 to 2014. The data included a new evaluation of the contribution from different sources to the total nutrient load on the Baltic Sea (the previous evaluation being based on data from 2006).These new data show that rivers are major contributors of nutrients to the Baltic Sea, providing about 70% of nitrogen load and 95% of phosphorus load. The air deposition share of total nitrogen load is about 30% and the share of point sources is only 3%, which is in line with previous assessments. For phosphorous, the proportion of point sources in the total load has more than halved in the last decades, and now constitutes only about 5%.However, the Meeting pointed out that none of the HELCOM countries have fulfilled their reduction requirements for phosphorus. The full version of the source apportionment will be available December this yearLost fishing gear. Photo credit: WWF Poland / Sebastian BarszczewskiThe results of two years of implementation of the were also in focus, both at the workshop dedicated to marine litter and at the PRESSURE 7-2017 Meeting. The participants noted that a lot of work has been done in relation to microlitter and riverine litter, and especially on lost fishing gear, which poses one of the most widely recognized threats to marine life. The scientific workshop suggested to start drafting a HELCOM Recommendation on lost fishing gear, building on a knowledge base with contribution from the World Wide Fund For Nature. The final decision on a new Recommendation will be made by countries in mid-November, after national consultation with the authorities that may be involved to this work.The scientists and representatives of national authorities at the Meeting agreed that diffuse sources are the major contributors of microplastics to the marine environment. However, they pointed out that there are currently no suitable harmonized methods available for monitoring microplastics, especially in storm waters, and therefore it is not possible to identify its sources and pathways without ambiguity. As the leading scientists of the region were of the shared opinion that there is not currently enough consistent knowledge to recommend any specific cost-efficient measures to prevent microlitter input to the marine environment, and bearing in mind the HELCOM principle that all decisions should be based on the best available scientific knowledge, the countries agreed to continue working to improve the knowledge base on microlitter in the marine environment and on its sources and pathways.The progress achieved in treatment of waste water in recent years has resulted in growing amounts of sewage sludge, and the countries agreed that it is increasingly essential to ensure that this sewage sludge is handled in a sustainable way. Experts and representatives of national authorities exchanged views on the national sewage practices of sludge handling, and agreed that regular regional seminars on the topic would help promote sustainable solutions and recycling of nutrients from sewage sludge. Countries also agreed to start elaborating a regional palette of solutions to support dialogue within the Baltic Sea region and to promote the sustainable handling of sewage sludgeThe Meeting gathered representatives of nearly all HELCOM contracting parties, as well as of the observer organizations Baltic Farmers’ Forum on Environment, Coalition Clean Baltic, Federation of European Aquaculture Producers, and World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF). All documents will be public after the meeting.* * Note for editorsHELCOM is an intergovernmental organization made up of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union. Founded in 1974, its primary aims as a governing body are to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution, as well as to ensure safe maritime navigation. The official name of HELCOM is the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission; it is the governing body of the Helsinki ConventionThe Working Group on Reduction of Pressures from the Baltic Sea Catchment Area – – focuses on nutrient and hazardous substance inputs from diffuse sources and point sources on land, including the follow-up of the implementation of the HELCOM nutrient reduction scheme. The group ensures the necessary technical underpinning as well as develops solutions to the policy-relevant questions and needs. Marine litter and underwater noise are also coordinated by this group* * For more information, please contact:Dmitry Frank-Kamenetsky Professional Secretary HELCOM Tel: +358 40 630 9933 Skype: helcom68 E-mail: dmitry.frank-kamenetsky(at)helcom.f

Data presented at the HELCOM PRESSURE Meeting 7-2017 shows that most of the nutrient input to the Baltic Sea comes from rivers. The Meeting called for intensified efforts on tracking microlitter, tackling lost fishing gear, and handling sewage sludge.

Pollution sources, measures, and targets in the spotlight at HELCOM Pressure Group meeting

HELCOM PRESSURE 7-2017 Meeting 24–26 Oct to focus on 6th Pollution Load Compilation assessmentsThe Meeting includes workshops on nutrient input reduction targets, marine litter action plan, and sewage sludge handlingThe seventh meeting of the HELCOM Pressure group will start on 24 October in Vilnius, Lithuania. The highlight of the Meeting is the presentation of new products of the Sixth HELCOM Project on Pollution Load Compilation (PLC-6). These products include an evaluation of nutrient inputs from the major sources and their contribution to the total load on the Baltic Sea; an assessment of the effectiveness of measures to reduce the input; and an evaluation of how far the work to reduce nutrient input has come towards the targets set by HELCOM.Marking that almost two years has passed since HELCOM adopted its regional action plan on marine litter, the group will evaluate the progress made so far on combatting marine litter, as well as suggest next steps. The group will also consider suggestions to revise a number of HELCOM Recommendations and to develop a new Recommendation on littering of the marine environmentAlongside the main HELCOM meeting, three workshops are arranged, each on one key point of the meeting agenda: assessment of progress towards nutrient input reduction targets, implementation of the regional action plan on marine litter, and sewage sludge handling practices. The workshops will give experts an additional opportunity to discuss these matters in more detail and to provide support for the decisions to be made by the group.Promotion of nutrient recycling is one of the HELCOM ministerial commitments. The group will discuss obstacles and drivers of cost-efficient and environmentally friendly recycling of nutrients, as well as what tools could be developed in the Baltic Sea region to support nutrient recycling, considering especially the major nutrient flows coming from agriculture and waste water. The Chair of the HELCOM Agri group will take part in the discussion, in order to ensure cooperation across sectors.Moreover, the Meeting agenda includes several items on hazardous substances – in particular, the new HELCOM indicator on diclofenac, which is the first product of the freshly established HELCOM expert group on pharmaceuticals, as well as pollution by perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFAS) and other substances. The Group will also take stock of how the HELCOM Recommendations concerning land-based sources of pollution has been implemented so far* * *Note for editorsHELCOM is an intergovernmental organization made up of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union. Founded in 1974, its primary aims as a governing body are to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution, as well as to ensure safe maritime navigation. The official name of HELCOM is the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission; it is the governing body of the Helsinki ConventionThe Working Group on Reduction of Pressures from the Baltic Sea Catchment Area – – focuses on nutrient and hazardous substance inputs from diffuse sources and point sources on land, including the follow-up of the implementation of the HELCOM nutrient reduction scheme. The group ensures the necessary technical underpinning as well as develops solutions to the policy-relevant questions and needs. Marine litter and underwater noise are also coordinated by this group* * *For more information, please contact:Dmitry Frank-Kamenetsky Professional Secretary HELCOM Tel: +358 40 630 9933 Skype: helcom68 E-mail: dmitry.frank-kamenetsky(at)helcom.f  ​

HELCOM PRESSURE 7-2017 Meeting 24–26 Oct to focus on 6th Pollution Load Compilation assessments. The Meeting includes workshops on nutrient input reduction targets, marine litter action plan, and sewage sludge handling.

HELCOM highlights cooperation with BONUS ahead of 2017 call

​Many of the topics under the recently opened BONUS call ‘Synthesis’ relate directly to ongoing HELCOM workFuture BONUS projects can both benefit from and contribute to existing knowledge The BONUS programme has previously underpinned good progress in HELCOM work. The HELCOM Contracting Parties – the Baltic Sea countries and EU – have recently underlined the importance of continuing the cooperation between HELCOM and BONUS in the future. Cooperation and information exchange between the Secretariats, the individual BONUS project scientists, and experts involved in HELCOM groups and projects is perceived as very important.The recently opened ” is of high relevance to HELCOM work and a number of regional priorities. Work on many of the call topics is currently under way within HELCOM. While much has been accomplished, future projects could contribute significantly where gaps exist or new perspectives would be pertinent. HELCOM plans continued exchange with future BONUS projects to be approved under the call. Below are examples of the most recent regional work carried out by the Contracting Parties on the topics covered by the call. Sustainable marine and freshwater aquaculture development perspectives in the Baltic Sea regionAccording to the Helsinki Convention, pollution from fish-farming shall be prevented and eliminated by promoting and implementing Best Environmental Practice (BEP) and Best Available Technology (BAT) (Annex III “Criteria and measures concerning prevention of pollution from land-based sources”). Furthermore, the was adopted in March 2016. The Recommendation foresees the Contracting Parties to, among other things, by 2018 jointly develop BAT and BEP descriptions for sustainable and environmentally friendly aquaculture in the Baltic Sea region. BAT and BEP are to be applied e.g. based on Annex II of the Helsinki Convention “Criteria for the use of Best Environmental Practice and Best Available Technology”. The Recommendation covers both marine and freshwater aquaculture. A correspondence group to follow up the Recommendation has been established (under the HELCOM Group on ecosystem-based sustainable fisheries), and its specifies how the work is to be carried out. No BAT/BEP descriptions have been developed by HELCOM yet.  A synthesis of knowledge on the Baltic Sea food webs including an outlook for priority future studiesThe Baltic Sea food webs are the subject of much research overall and the focus of several HELCOM indicators. Within the HELCOM framework, extensive work has been carried out related to and . A number of HELCOM projects have also been carried out with the purpose of developing aspects related to biota and biodiversity and enhancing the work of HELCOM. These projects have, for instance, addressed specific food web components such as or , or contributed to the development of or utilized in the .The , tools that underpin major aspects of the HELCOM work, have been developed to assess the status of the marine environment, and form the basis for the integrated holistic approach used in the State of the Baltic Sea report. Many of these indicators address biological components and factors that have the potential to directly or indirectly impact biota and the Baltic Sea food webs. These indicators are themselves based on analyses of compiled data, agreed threshold levels, and a robust survey of the latest scientific literature. , and , rely on accredited monitoring data and scientifically validated methodologies, and new indicators or new approaches to assessment of the Baltic Sea food webs, ecosystem, and ecosystem pressures are regularly proposed through .Towards improved environmental status assessment and monitoring systems for the Baltic SeaCoordinated monitoring of physical, chemical, and biological variables of the Baltic open sea has been carried out since 1979.HELCOM work on monitoring and assessment is based on the , the latest version of which was adopted by the HELCOM Ministerial Meeting in 2013. The Strategy is a common plan to monitor and assess the health of the Baltic Sea in a coordinated and cost-efficient way between all HELCOM Contracting Parties. It forms the basis for high quality and uniform data collection across the Baltic Sea region. The resulting data feeds into the HELCOM indicators and thus into the assessment of the status of the Baltic Sea.Those general principles of the Strategy that relate to coordinated monitoring have been translated into concrete specifications and requirements through the . The Manual progressively takes up new monitoring guidelines and is updated or amended based on methodological developments and advances or development of more appropriate data reporting and handling options The current monitoring network and information on sampling can be found in the .Policy instruments and institutions for nutrient abatementThe is a regional approach to sharing the burden of nutrient reductions to achieve the goal of a Baltic Sea unaffected by eutrophication agreed by the Baltic Sea countries.The Scheme has been introduced and agreed first in 2007, in the HELCOM . At that time, the countries agreed on provisional nutrient reduction targets and decided that the figures will be revised using a harmonised approach, the newest data, and enhanced modelling. The revision process started in 2008 and was completed in 2013.There are two main components of the nutrient reduction scheme:Maximum Allowable Inputs (MAI) of nutrients, indicating the maximal level of inputs of waterborne and airborne nitrogen and phosphorus to Baltic Sea sub-basins that can be allowed in order to fulfill the targets for non-eutrophied areas. This component has been developed according to the ecosystem approach including use of the best available science, overall agreed as the main principle of HELCOM work. Country-Allocated Reduction Targets (CART), indicating how much nutrient inputs the HELCOM countries need to reduce comparing to a reference period (1997–2003). This component has been designed under the guidance and according to the decisions of the Contracting Parties, taking into account fundamental principles of the Helsinki Convention (such as the “polluter pays” principle). The reduction targets are to be met by implementing common regional requirements, such as for wastewater treatment plans, and by any additional measures or instruments countries see as feasible and appropriate. The HELCOM provides the technical basis to the work on inputs of nutrients and hazardous substances from both diffuse and point sources on land, including follow-up of the implementation of the Nutrient Reduction Scheme. The assessments of and are published on the HELCOM website (updates assessments planned to be finished in 2017). High frequency automated in situ observations in the Baltic SeaHigh quality and accredited data underpin much of the work carried out by HELCOM, be it the development of scientific or policy documents. The HELCOM indicators in particular, and the associated integrated assessment for biodiversity, hazardous substances and eutrophication, rely on this data pool for their function. Not only is spatial and temporal data coverage a major issue for such initiatives but also the quality and abundance of such data; an assessment of which is reflected by a confidence assigned to the indicators or integrated assessments. There are, for example, processes currently underway within HELCOM expert networks to utilize ferrybox data with HELCOM indicator assessments, as the spatial, temporal, and sheer mass of data have major potential to significantly increase both indicator reliability and confidence. As with many automated monitoring systems, the volume of data produced is several orders of magnitude greater than that produced by classical monitoring and assessment tools. While this offers huge potential for fine scale observations and conclusions to be made, it also requires the development of suitable data collation and utilization tools that offer support to management institutions. Suitable integration solutions and the scope for utilizing such high frequency data within HELCOM work is perceived as very important. The HELCOM Monitoring and Assessment Strategy acknowledges that remote sensing and autonomous measuring devices already in use in environmental monitoring and operational oceanography, such as ferry-boxes, buoys, passive samplers, fixed platforms, and coastal radars, are efficient means to increase spatial and temporal coverage of observations. Development of a unified access point for science-based virtual decision support tools for ecosystem-based management in the Baltic Sea and its drainageHELCOM has developed and is using a number of decision support tools. Here are a few examples: Non-monetary values of the Baltic Sea ecosystem goods and services provided to human lifestyles and well-beingIn March 2017, HELCOM established an (ESA) with the aim to enhance regional cooperation on the economic and social aspects of the Baltic Sea marine environment. The expert network serves as a platform for discussion and information exchange on the ongoing and planned work, and develops and agrees on regional approaches for the economic and social analyses, according to a (agreed on in December 2016). The analyses are needed for the implementation of the Baltic Sea Action Plan, as well as for other requirements Contracting Parties have to fulfill, such as Marine Strategy Framework Directive for the EU countries in the region. Overall, the analyses will contribute to ecosystem-based marine management, marine spatial planning, pollution mitigation, and integration and implementation of various policies.Results on the economic contribution from marine activities in the Baltic Sea and on the economic damages to citizens from the deterioration of the marine environment have been included in the first version of the , released in June 2017. These results show the economic and social impact of selected marine sectors and activities in the Baltic Sea region (fishing, aquaculture, tourism and recreation, production of renewable energy and transport), and illustrate the economic consequences of not achieving good environmental status for selected degradation themes and ecosystem services, including eutrophication, recreation, and biodiversity-related aspects. Additional information on the economic and social analyses can be found in this .Improved maritime risk analysis and mitigationThe work in the field of pollution prevention and safety of navigation as well as response to incidents at sea has been carried out within HELCOM already for many decades. The work is carried out by the HELCOM and groups.A two-year HELCOM-led project “Open-Source tools for regional risk assessments for improved European preparedness and response at sea” () started in January 2017. The project will take the first steps on developing a joint and fully open method toolbox for risk assessments of spills resulting from maritime accidents.Cumulative effects of human activities: linear and non-linear interactions and knowledge gapsThe requires that HELCOM assessments assess the effects of anthropogenic pressures and their effects on the marine environment including cumulative and synergetic effects.The first version of the HELCOM ” assessment was released for consideration in July 2017. It provides a scientific evaluation of the environmental status of the Baltic Sea during 2011–2015, and assesses pressures and impacts from human activities, as well as social and economic dimensions, in the entire Baltic Sea. The second version of the assessment will be updated with 2016 data and will be published by mid-2018.The indicator-based assessments of pressures show their status when assessed individually, without comparing their total impact or their level of spatial overlap with sensitive habitats. The Baltic Sea Impact Index (BSII) is an assessment component that additionally describes the potential cumulative burden on the environment in different parts of the Baltic Sea, with the use of more detailed spatial information than can be provided by the core indicators. The analysis of potential cumulative impacts on benthic habitats suggests that benthic habitats are potentially impacted by loss and disturbance in all sub-basins of the Baltic Sea, but the highest estimates were found for coastal areas and in the southern Baltic Sea. The human activities behind the cumulative impacts on benthic habitats, according to this assessment, are bottom trawling, shipping, sediment dispersal caused by various construction and dredging activities, and disposal of the dredged sediment.Supplementary information on the assessment of cumulative impacts using the Baltic Sea Pressure Index (BSPI) and BSII can be found . * * *BackgroundThe Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as HELCOM, 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.BONUS is one of the official observers to HELCOM and participates actively in HELCOM work. HELCOM has been involved in defining future research needs for the BONUS programme in the context of environmental policy and sustainable use of marine resources. * * *For more information, please contact:Ms. Laura MeskiAssistant Professional SecretaryHELCOM+358 40 162 2053Skype: helcom82E-mail: laura.meski(at)helcom.fi 

Many of the topics under the recently opened BONUS call ‘Synthesis’ relate directly to ongoing HELCOM work. Future BONUS projects can both benefit from and contribute to existing knowledge.

First version of the HELCOM ‘State of the Baltic Sea’ report is now available

​The comprehensive HELCOM overview of the state of the Baltic Sea follows up on the status of the Baltic Sea environment, saying that management is improving but that the environmental objectives of the Baltic Sea Action Plan will not be reached in time.The ‘State of the Baltic Sea’ assessment, now made available as a first version for consideration, is an outcome of a large scale collaboration among Baltic Sea countries. It provides a scientific evaluation of the environmental status of the Baltic Sea during 2011-2015, and assesses pressures and impacts from human activities, as well as social and economic dimensions, in the entire Baltic Sea.The summary report, and its underlying material, can be accessed via its . The next step will be to subject it to a regional consultation carried out by HELCOM. The final report will be published by June 2018, and will include one additional year of monitoring data.The assessment is based on an extensive set of materials, including the HELCOM core indicators and Baltic-wide maps, covering aspects such as eutrophication, contamination, marine litter, underwater noise, fishing, hunting, and effects of habitat loss. The assessment of benthic and pelagic habitats, fish, marine mammals, and birds indicate that biodiversity status is inadequate for most assessed species, and that continued efforts to support biodiversity are of key importance.The results are made available for use in analysing progress in relation to the goals of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan, namely: to achieve a good environmental status in the Baltic Sea. They will also provide background for negotiations in the next HELCOM Ministerial Meeting to take place on 6 March 2018 in Brussels under the European Union chairmanship of HELCOM.Additionally, the assessment results are available for national consultation in EU Member states, forming a regional umbrella report for reporting under the EU Marine Strategy Framework directive. The assessment can also provide a baseline for future work to reach UN Sustainable Development Goals.The ‘State of the Baltic Sea’ is a regionally coordinated assessment and a major undertaking of all Baltic Sea countries as well as the European Union. The results are the outcome of the committed work of HELCOM experts and national representatives, whom have developed and worked to improve a regionally agreed on monitoring and assessment system, used as a shared knowledge base for developing Baltic Sea environmental management.The results and materials underlying the assessment can be accessed at .* * *Note for editors:The State of the Baltic Sea assessment is carried out by the  (2014–18). The project develops common concepts and methods for the status assessment based on core indicators, creates and tests the tools for aggregated results, and performs assessments at a regional scale. The development of the assessment methods is supported by other projects, including a number of EU-co-financed projects.HELCOM is an intergovernmental organization made up of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union. Founded in 1974, its primary aims as a governing body are to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution, as well as to ensure safe maritime navigation. The official name of HELCOM is the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission; it is the governing body of the .HELCOM Heads of Delegation, nominated by the Contracting Parties to the Helsinki Convention, which are the nine Baltic coastal states as well as the EU, usually meet twice a year. The highest decision-making body of HELCOM, the Annual Meeting, convenes usually in March. Approximately every three years the Commission meets at .* * *For more information, please contact:Lena BergströmHOLAS II Project CoordinatorHELCOME-mail: lena.bergstrom(at)helcom.fiTel: +358 40 080 3428Jannica HaldinProfessional Secretary for Gear and State and Conservation groupsHELCOME-mail: jannica.haldin(at)helcom.fiTel: +358 40 485 5905​​

The comprehensive HELCOM overview of the state of the Baltic Sea follows up on the status of the Baltic Sea environment, saying that management is improving but that the environmental objectives of the Baltic Sea Action Plan will not be reached in time.

Reduction of nutrient input discussed in HELCOM meeting in St. Petersburg

The Sixth Meeting of HELCOM
Working Group on Reduction of Pressures from the Baltic Sea Catchment Area
(PRESSURE 6-2017) took place in St. Petersburg, Russia 25-27 April. The key theme of the
meeting was the reduction of nutrient’s input into the Baltic Sea. The first results of a
HELCOM project compiling information on nutrient load on the Baltic Sea were
presented to the group. The results, based on data reported by all HELCOM
countries, indicate further reduction of nitrogen and phosphorus input in
2012-2014.Provisional figures show
that the nitrogen input was reduced by about 13% and phosphorus almost by 19%
since the reference period 1997-2003 (based on a 3 year average, 2012-2014)
while the reduction in the period 2010-2012 was 9.4% and 13,6% respectively. The final results are
expected in the end of June 2017. A ranking of the sources of nutrients, the
assessment of effectiveness of the undertaken measures and the evaluation of
progress achieved by individual countries towards the implementation of
national reduction targets will be presented at the
PRESSURE group meeting in October 2017.Another hot topic of the
meeting was the follow up of the situation around the HELCOM hot spot toxic
landfill Krasnyi Bor near St. Petersburg. Russia presented a concept for the
remediation of the site implying the conservation of the site in a period of
about 7 years. The international experts welcomed Russia’s initiative to establish
a public information center to communicate all relevant issues with public
society, current activities coordinated by NEFCO on validation of waste water
treatment system on the landfill and launching of cooperation with on the verification of the monitoring programme.Among other HELCOM priorities the group discussed the progress in
implementing the regional action plan on marine litter and the progress in
elaborating HELCOM guidelines for establishing environmental targets for
underwater noise. The participants also agreed on the working plan of the
HELCOM group on pharmaceutical residues in the environment. HELCOM countries also pointed out that exploitation of mineral resources
on the sea floor might have a significant potential environmental effect which
is scarcely known and requires urgent action to compile relevant information.Note for editorsHELCOM is an intergovernmental organization made up of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union. Founded in 1974, its primary aims as a governing body are to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution, as well as to ensure safe maritime navigation. The official name of HELCOM is the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission; it is the governing body of the Helsinki Convention.The Working Group on Reduction of Pressures from the Baltic Sea Catchment Area – – focuses on nutrient and hazardous substance inputs from diffuse sources and point sources on land, including the follow-up of the implementation of the HELCOM nutrient reduction scheme. The group ensures the necessary technical underpinning as well as develops solutions to the policy-relevant questions and needs. Marine litter and underwater noise are also coordinated by this group.For more information, please contact:Dmitry Frank-Kamenetsky Professional Secretary HELCOM Tel: +358 40 630 9933 Skype: helcom68 E-mail: dmitry.frank-kamenetsky(at)helcom.fi

The Sixth Meeting of HELCOM Working Group on Reduction of Pressures from the Baltic Sea Catchment Area (PRESSURE 6-2017) took place in St. Petersburg, Russia 25-27 April.

Finding new ways to enhance nutrient recycling in the Baltic Sea regions

HELCOM Agri group initiated development of a regional strategy on nutrient recycling. “Nutrient recycling is essential to reduce nutrient losses to the Baltic Sea and to efficiently use limited phosphorus resources” says Tarja Haaranen, the Chair of HELCOM Agri group. As a first step, a HELCOM Workshop on nutrient recycling in the Baltic Sea countries was organized on 27-28 March in Berlin, Germany. The workshop gathered more than 40 experts from all Baltic Sea countries to discuss national strategies and programmes to recycle phosphorus in agriculture and waste water management. The Workshop aimed at creating suggestions for HELCOM to promote nutrient recycling and fully utilize valuable components of manure and sewage sludge.Nutrient recycling was also in the focus of the 4th Meeting of the HELCOM Group on Sustainable Agricultural Practices organized on 3-4 April in Brussels, Belgium. Smart nutrient management in agriculture is a priority for the Agri group. The group particularly aims at advancing manure standards as a basis for effective nutrient accounting on farm level. This enables balanced fertilization as manure is considered not as a waste but as a nutrient resource.The HELCOM Agri group focused on nutrient recycling in their 4th meeting held on 3 -4 April in Brussels.The group continued its work on agricultural measures to reduce nutrient losses to the Baltic Sea which is a joint effort of several HELCOM groups, especially the HELCOM Pressure group focused on land based sources of pollution. The group considered the potential of innovative water management and the prevention of soil erosion to reduce losses of nutrients from agricultural fields to the sea as well as the best available techniques to mitigate ammonia emissions from agricultural production. See the Outcome of Agri 4-2017.See the Outcome of the HELCOM Workshop on nutrient recycling in the Baltic Sea region.Note for editorsHELCOM is one of the Regional Sea Conventions and Action Plans around the world, working for healthy oceans and sustainable us of marine resources. HELCOM consists 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. The HELCOM Group on Sustainable Agricultural Practices (Agri) deals with agriculture in relation to the implementation of the ecosystem-based approach and involves representatives from agriculture and environment authorities of the Baltic Sea countries, as well as EU and HELCOM Observers. The group provides a platform for agri-environmental policy measures and instruments and joint discussion on the Baltic agriculture in the context of the protection of the marine environment, in order to address nutrient inputs and emissions from agriculture.***For more information, please contact:Tarja HaaranenChair of HELCOM Group on Sustainable Agricultural PracticesMinistry of the Environment of FinlandTel:  +358 295 250 282Email: tarja.haaranen(at)ym.fi Dmitry Frank-Kamenetsky Professional Secretary HELCOM Tel: +358 40 630 9933 Skype: helcom68 E-mail: dmitry.frank-kamenetsky(at)helcom.fi​

HELCOM Agri group initiated development of a regional strategy on nutrient recycling.

How is the Baltic Sea Region Doing in Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals?

The newly released report Measuring progress for the same
targets in the Baltic Sea shows that HELCOM work already contributes to reaching
the ocean-related UN Sustainable Development Goals. The report marks the
ten-year anniversary of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan. >The sustainable development goals were adopted by the UN
General Assembly in September 2015 as a part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable
Development. The Agenda contains 17 sustainable development goals (SDG) and 169
targets.The report is an overview of HELCOM activities in relation
to the Sustainable Development Goal 14 and how these activities contribute to
the other SDG goals. HELCOM activities address in particular different kinds of
pollution such as nutrients, hazardous substances and marine litter. Other
topics covered in the report are e.g. biodiversity, underwater noise and
maritime spatial planning.Among HELCOMs accomplishments to achieve a healthy marine
environment are setting up a nutrient reduction scheme, curbing airborne
emission and discharges from shipping, tackling some hazardous substances,
piloting ecosystem approach in maritime spatial planning and covering nearly
12% of the Baltic Sea with marine protected areas. HELCOM will continue its efforts to meet the ocean-related
targets of Agenda 2030 in the Baltic Sea. In doing so, HELCOM will cooperate
with stakeholders, other Regional Seas Conventions and UN Environment. Member
countries bear the main responsibility for implementing actions, but they do
not have to work alone. Regional HELCOM cooperation, also involving a wide
range of stakeholders, advances the application of the ecosystem approach in
real life and ensures that all are working towards the same goals.The SDG targets will have associated indicators. HELCOM has
developed regional indicators, some of which are directly related to the
proposed SDG indicators and can be used as such in reporting progress towards
the implementation of the SDGs. The established Baltic Sea indicators and
follow-up systems will serve the regional follow-up of the status of SDG
implementation.  Download the report HELCOM and Sustainable Development Goals
– Measuring progress for the same targets in the Baltic Sea .Note for editorsHELCOM is one of the Regional Sea Conventions and Action Plans around the world, working for healthy oceans and sustainable us of marine resources. HELCOM consists 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:Monika StankiewiczExecutive SecretaryHELCOM+358 40 840 2471Email: monika.stankiewicz(at)helcom.fiSkype: helcom17

The newly released report Measuring progress for the same targets in the Baltic Sea shows that HELCOM work already contributes to reaching the ocean-related UN Sustainable Development Goals.