Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

 

Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

Report on microplastics in the Baltic Sea provides a common baseline for policy-makers and researchers

With the recent publication of the Review of existing policies and research related to microplastics under the FanpLESStic-sea project, policy-makers and researches in the Baltic Sea region dealing with microplastics now have a common baseline to support their work.  

“I was surprised by the large amount of existing research and projects in the Baltic Sea,” said Aaron Vuola, the HELCOM project coordinator in FanpLESStic-sea who led the publication, adding that it shows how pressing the issue of microplastics is in the region.

The review, for which a summary for policy makers is also available, establishes a comprehensive baseline on the existing policies related to microplastics on global, Baltic Sea, EU, and national levels. The report also showcases some of the existing research on microplastics at these various levels.

“This review confirms the need for harmonized monitoring methods if we want to be able to compare studies between regions and different matrices, or establish baselines for current microplastic levels,” said Vuola.

According to the report, the lack of commonly agreed methodologies for monitoring, sampling and analyses of microplastics is a major concern and calls for urgent need for harmonized, cost-efficient, and sufficiently robust monitoring methodologies for microplastics.

Currently, microplastics are not directly addressed through any global instrument even though several existing instruments cover some aspects related to marine litter and hence microplastics. However, the European Union is working towards restricting the use of intentionally added microplastic particles to consumer or professional use products.

On the Baltic Sea level, actions on microplastics are contained in the HELCOM Action Plan on Marine Litter.

Also highlighted by the report are the impacts of microplastics on humans through food chain or other means, still largely unknown and calling for more research.

“There is already lot of evidence of the negative impacts of microplastics to support the need for global, EU and national level regulation, but we also have to reduce the plastic use in general and address the problematic products in earlier phase of their life-cycle before they become marine litter and microplastics,” said Vuola.

In addition to providing an overview of the regulatory framework and useful information on topics such as sources and types of microplastics, the report can be used as a database for large amount of concluded research on various topics around the issue of microplastics.

FanpLESStic-sea, an EU-funded Interreg project, works towards preventing and decreasing the pollution of microplastics in water in the Baltic Sea. In the project, HELCOM leads the work package on reviewing existing research on microplastic in the aquatic environment.

On marine litter, a G7 workshop in France highlights the central role of Regional Seas Conventions

The central role of Regional Seas Conventions such as HELCOM in the fight against the global pressure of marine litter was underscored at a key G7 workshop on marine litter that took place in Metz, France from 5 to 6 May 2019. The workshop is part of the implementation process of the . It was organised by France who currently holds the G7 presidency, together with the (UNEP/MAP –  Barcelona Convention) and with support of Italy.”Workshops like the one in Metz give us a good opportunity to articulate regional actions on marine litter and to identify the next common implementation priorities,” said Monika Stankiewicz, the HELCOM Executive Secretary. “There are clear synergies between the various frameworks – national, G7, EU, HELCOM and other regional sea conventions, and the UN. By joining forces, we can efficiently deal with the global and cross-sectoral issue of marine litter.”The ‘G7 Action Plan to Combat Marine Litter in Synergy with the Regional Seas Conventions Workshop’, the full name of the event, resulted in a list of issues that was commonly seen as needed to accelerate the implementation of the plan at national and regional levels. The outcome of the workshop was presented by the Coordinator of UN Environment/Mediterranean Action Plan, Mr Gaetano Leone, to the meeting of the G7 Ministers of the Environment on 6 May 2019.At the workshop, increased cooperation with regional fisheries organisations to address marine litter was also considered as essential. “We need to cooperate more with fisheries organisations, especially on the issue of ghost fishing gear,” said Marta Ruiz, the HELCOM expert on marine litter. Ghost fishing gear, or so-called “abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear” (ALDFG), still is a major source of marine pollution and poses a direct threat to marine life. Knowledge sharing and outreach campaigns on marine litter also came into the focus of the workshop, seeking to share best practices and improving stakeholder involvement from both civil society and economic sector. In Metz, the rising number of global awareness campaigns since the inception of the Action Plan was particularly lauded.In 2015, the G7 signed the Action Plan to Combat Marine Litter in Schloss Elmau, Germany. Since then, the Action Plan has been constantly reviewed in subsequent G7 meetings. The first Workshop on Marine Litter – that focused on the implementation of the Action Plan – was held in Rome, Italy in 2017. The workshop was attended by four G7 countries, the EU, the four European regional seas organisations – HELCOM, OSPAR, UNEP/MAP (Barcelona Convention), and the Black Sea Commission. Others were the Nairobi Convention and the Caribbean Environment Programme of the Cartagena Convention. All these regional seas organisations include at least one G7 member if not more. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), GESAMP (Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environment Protection of the United Nations) as well as a number of NGOs and associations from the private sector also participated. For its part, to address marine litter in the Baltic Sea, HELCOM has adopted its own in 2015. Comprised of a recommendation and a set of regional and national actions, the HELCOM plan seeks to prevent and reduce marine litter already at its main sources, before it enters the sea. The plan also pushes for the development of common indicators and associated targets related to quantities, composition, sources and pathways of marine litter. The main focus areas of the plan are waste prevention and management, plastic litter, micro particles including microplastics, sewage related litter such as sanitary waste and lost fishing gear. ​

The central role of Regional Seas Conventions such as HELCOM in the fight against the global pressure of marine litter was underscored at a key G7 workshop on marine litter that took place in Metz, France from 5 to 6 May 2019.

At PRESSURE 10-2019, the HELCOM group dealing with pressures on the Baltic Sea ploughs through nutrients, stormwater and microlitter

Nutrient reduction is central point of discussion at PRESSURE 10-2019.Kaliningrad city gets recommendation to be removed from HELCOM hotspot list because of reduction of nutrient inputs.

Expanded polystyrene will receive special attention from HELCOM. Nutrients, stormwater and microlitter were headlining the Tenth Meeting of HELCOM Working Group on Reduction of Pressures from the Baltic Sea Catchment Area (PRESSURE 10-2019) that was held in Tallinn from 9 to 12 April 2019.

High nutrient load from land-based sources – the central discussion point of PRESSURE 10-2019 – remains one of the largest pressures on the Baltic Sea, leading to eutrophication that causes growth of toxic algae and oxygen depletion.

At PRESSURE 10-2019, the delegates proposed to advance regional policy instruments to inspire additional efforts for minimizing this environmental pressure on the marine ecosystem. The proposals include further development of the and its follow up system, and of the HELCOM nutrient recycling strategy. will be key for curbing eutrophication.

Specifically, attention was directed to the effectiveness of implemented or planned measures to reduce nutrient load on the marine environment, as well as their sufficiency to achieve targets set by the Baltic Sea Action Plan. The delegates also agreed to intensify cooperation on nutrient reduction with river basin management authorities, for instance through workshops.

The alignment of nutrient reduction targets for river basins with the ones set for the marine environment was also foreseen as a tool for targeted measures to effectively decrease the nutrient load in the Baltic Sea.

The HELCOM delegates also welcomed the first official results from the newly commissioned waste water treatment plant in Kaliningrad. Two years of constant environmental monitoring showed that nutrient input to the Baltic Sea from the city of Kaliningrad was reduced by about 200 tonnes of phosphorus and 1200 tonnes of nitrogen annually.

Because of the improvement, the delegates of PRESSURE 10-2019 recommended to remove the Kaliningrad municipality from the HELCOM Hotspot list where it is currently listed.

“The HELCOM list of hot spots now stands a good chance to become shorter,” said Dmitry Frank-Kamenetsky, the Professional Secretary handling nutrient related issues at HELCOM. On stormwater, PRESSURE 10-2019 agreed to revise the related HELCOM Recommendation and to open it to reflections on microlitter and resilience to climate change.

Further on marine litter, Denmark presented a comprehensive study on expanded polystyrene (EPS) which is a widespread litter item found in the Baltic Sea. The delegates subsequently agreed to start work on regional measures to deal with EPS litter.

On underwater noise, PRESSURE 10-2019 agreed on the structure of the Action Plan on Underwater Noise which will be elaborated by 2020. The plan will specifically look into keeping marine habitats undisturbed by underwater noise.PRESSURE 10-2019 was hosted by the Ministry of the Environment of Estonia in Tallinn, and was chaired by Lars Sonesten, Chair of the .

Nutrients, stormwater and microlitter were headlining the Tenth Meeting of HELCOM Working Group on Reduction of Pressures from the Baltic Sea Catchment Area (PRESSURE 10-2019) that was held in Tallinn from 9 to 12 April 2019.

FanpLESStic-sea: New research project focuses on reducing microplastics in the Baltic Sea

(FanpLESStic press release)A new research project will focus on decreasing and removing microplastics in the Baltic Sea. The project will increase knowledge and understanding about dispersal pathways and sources through measurements in different flows in society, as well as cost-effective methods to reduce microplastics.  Marine littering is one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time and plastic is one of the most common types of garbage in the sea. FanpLESStic is a new research project, working with preventing and decreasing the pollution of microplastics in water and the Baltic Sea. Microplastics are plastic particles that are smaller than 5 mm in size. “This is an exciting project ranging from knowledge to technology and decision making. We hope that it will give concrete benefit to an extremely important marine environment: the Baltic Sea. The water has no boarders and it is therefore important that we do this together with our colleagues in the Baltic countries” says Marinette Hagman, Research Manager at Sweden Water Research. The project has three key targets: increased knowledge of where microplastics come from and their transport pathways Evaluation of technology that can reduce microplastic or reduce microplastic leakage before reaching watercourses,increased knowledge and commitment of decision makers through suggestions on how to implement cost-effective methods to reduce microplastics.”We do not know much about microplastics today. In order to make reliable analyzes of the amount of microplastics in the water, we need to standardize our measurement methods. Without that, it is difficult to determine how much plastics there is in the environment, where it comes from and how we can work to reduce it” says Marinette Hagman.About the projectFanpLESStic project is including partner organizations in eight countries with coast to the Baltic sea (Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia).The total budget of the project is 2 968 068,80 euro with financial support by the EU Interreg program.Project period is from January 1st 2019 to June 30th 2021. Project coordinator is Sweden Water Research and responsible project manager is Carina Svensson, with solid experience of international projects.  FanpLESStic-sea seeks to reduce microplastic leakage, by following main outputs ***Facts about microplastics in marine environmentsMarine littering is one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time and plastic is one of the most common types of garbage in the sea. Microplastics are plastic particles that are smaller than 5 mm in size. One problem with our knowledge about microplastics is that today there is no standard for measuring, sampling and analyzing microplastics in different forms, which makes it difficult to compare results. Without reliable analytical methods, the amount of plastic in the environment can not be determined, which means that it is not possible to determine which source is most important and what impact they have.***Partners in FanpLESSticDenmark: Aalborg University, Finland: Natural Resources Institute Finland and Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission – Helsinki Commission, Latvia: Latvian Institute of Aquatic Ecology, Lithuania: Siauliai Chamber of Commerce, Industry and CraftsNorway: Salt Lofoten AS Poland: Gdanks Water Utilities Ltd. and Gdansk Water Ltd., Russia: State Autonomous Institution of the Kaliningrad region “Environmental Center “ECAT-Kaliningrad”, Sweden: Sweden Water Research and Luleå University of Technology***ContactMarinette Hagman, Research Manager, Sweden Water Research: phone +46-(0)10-490 98 17,  marinette.hagman@nsva.seCarina Svensson, Project Manager, Sweden Water Research: +46-(0)72-226 95 94, carina.svensson@swrab.se

A new research project will focus on decreasing and removing microplastics in the Baltic Sea. The project will increase knowledge and understanding about dispersal pathways and sources through measurements in different flows in society.

Nature conservation and monitoring of the Baltic Sea’s ecosystem take centre stage in Copenhagen during STATE & CONSERVATION 9-2018

​Nature conservation and monitoring of the Baltic Sea’s ecosystem were the focus of attention during the  (STATE & CONSERVATION 9-2018). The meeting was held in Copenhagen from 22 to 26 October 2018.During the event, it was agreed to broaden the workplan for the , notably on the follow-up of  (BSAP) measures, red-listed species and their link to specific habitat features, and non-indigenous species, among others.In regards to  (MPAs), the participants endorsed the establishment of a regional MPA management network under the auspice of HELCOM. The management network is intended to function as a platform for managers across the region, to share experiences and best practices.In Copenhagen, Denmark, Estonia, Finland and Sweden furthermore presented their plans for designating new MPAs. HELCOM was the first regional seas convention in the world to reach the target of 10% of its total marine area to be covered by MPAs in 2010. Increasing the ambition level, where scientifically justifiable, HELCOM seeks to achieve 10 percent MPA coverage for every Baltic Sea sub-basin by 2020.  Baltic sea species were also addressed at STATE & CONSERVATION 9-2018, notably the , a cousin of the dolphin. Measures to minimize bycatch, one of the biggest threats to harbour porpoises, were discussed. Currently, only about 500 of these marine mammals are left in the Baltic Proper, a sub-basin of the Baltic Sea where they used to occur in large numbers.On Baltic sturgeon – one of the regionally extinct species on the  – an action plan for its reintroduction, recovery and protection was endorsed by STATE & CONSERVATION 9-2018, a first step for its final adoption by the HELCOM countries in 2019.The meeting participants also expressed their concern about the low numbers of ringed seal in the Gulf of Finland and called for increased efforts to conserve the species. At STATE & CONSERVATION 9-2018, several guidelines on monitoring the state of the Baltic Sea were also in principle endorsed, notably on dissolved oxygen in seawater and determining heavy metals in sediments. Monitoring the state of the Baltic Sea is key to understanding how the ecosystem reacts to the current measures for a healthy sea.Pressures on the Baltic Sea were also discussed, notably marine litter and underwater noise. On the latter, it was highlighted that more efforts are needed, specifically on determining threshold values. Underwater noise is one of the emerging pressures on the Baltic Sea environment.Norbert Häubner and Marie-Louise Krawack were elected as co-Chairs of the  for the next term until 2020, respectively chairing the monitoring & assessment, and biodiversity & nature conservation components of the group. They replace the previous co-Chairs Penina Blankett and Urmas Lips.

​Nature conservation and monitoring of the Baltic Sea’s ecosystem were the focus of attention during the Ninth Meeting of the HELCOM Working Group on the State of the Environment and Nature Conservation (STATE & CONSERVATION 9-2018).

HELCOM group meets in Riga to address land-based pollution and pressures on the Baltic Sea

The  met in Riga, Latvia from 10 to 12 October 2018 to tackle matters related to land-based pollution of the Baltic Sea, during the Ninth Meeting of the Working Group on Reduction of Pressures from the Baltic Sea Catchment Area ().The  (BSAP), HELCOM’s strategic tool for a healthy Baltic Sea, was a major item on the agenda, with the group discussing a work plan for an update beyond its current end in 2021. As part of the BSAP update process, PRESSURE 9-2018 consented to review over a hundred HELCOM agreements and recommendations related to land-based pollution and nutrient inputs, in order to assess the status of their implementation by the .”This review, together with evaluating emerging environmental challenges, is important for the BSAP update. The results will allow for the formulation of new recommendations, and help us understand what actions work and what don’t,” said Monika Stankiewicz, HELCOM’s Executive Secretary, adding that a better comprehension of how the ecosystem responds to the current measures, and within which timeframes, would be the next step  for devising pertinent improvements.In Riga, the HELCOM group also agreed to on the first practical steps to elaborate the regional principles and risk assessment framework for the management of internal nutrient reserves through sea-based measures. Nutrients have accumulated in the Baltic Sea over time and are aggravating .In addition, progress of implementation of the  was also discussed. It was further agreed on the need for more efforts, especially on waste management to prevent litter and microliter from entering the sea. Storm water management, eco-design to reduce over-packaging, and discarded or lost fishing gear were also addressed. The importance of environmental education and public outreach in addressing the litter issue was particularly highlighted, welcoming international public campaigns such as the . Specific attention was also placed on hazardous substances. A suggestion for HELCOM indicators on hazardous substances to integrate information on both loads and their sources, was strongly welcomed by the participants, allowing for a more timely and precise response to emerging pollution threats. The PRESSURE 9-2018 Meeting attracted over 40 representatives from all contracting parties to the Helsinki Convention and observers from regional NGOs and professional associations with stakes in the Baltic Sea. For more information, read the .

The HELCOM Pressure group met in Riga, Latvia from 10 to 12 October 2018 to tackle matters related to land-based pollution of the Baltic Sea, during the Ninth Meeting of the Working Group on Reduction of Pressures from the Baltic Sea Catchment Area (PRESS

Maritime activities in the Baltic Sea assessed in new report

PRESS RELEASE 9 MARCH 2018 – After two years of work, HELCOM today releases a comprehensive assessment of maritime activities in the Baltic Sea. The report covers a wide range human activities at sea, from commercial maritime traffic to leisure boating and from fisheries to hazardous submerged objects.HELCOM releases today the most comprehensive assessment of maritime activities in the Baltic Sea region currently available – covering distribution of activities at sea, developments over time, related environmental issues as well as future perspectives and scenarios. The vast number of activities addressed include operational and accidental pollution from maritime traffic, fisheries, aquaculture, offshore energy production, cables and pipelines, submerged hazardous objects, and leisure boating. Visual contents of the HELCOM Maritime Assessment 2018.Shipping and pollution A large part of the report is dedicated to maritime traffic – still the most common maritime activity in the Baltic Sea – and to mapping it on a regional scale. In terms of environmental effects, the report highlights that some types of ship-based pollution have already been effectively dealt with in the Baltic Sea over the last decades, including 90% reductions in both operational oil spills and sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions from ships exhaust gases.For other types of ship-based pollution, recent decisions will result in more reductions in the near future. Those decisions include banning of untreated sewage discharges by 2021 and a requirement of 80% reduction of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions for new ships built 2021 or later. However, some types of ship-based pollution remain unquantified, including litter, chemical residuals, and anti-fouling paints, and others, such as underwater sound, are yet to be addressed. The concluding chapter of the report explores future scenarios of maritime traffic and related environmental regulations.Stable accident numbers, increase in aquaculture and energy productionShip accidents in the Baltic Sea occurred at a fairly stable level of 300 accidents per year during the period 2011–2015, 4 % of which led to loss of life, serious injuries, or environmental damages. The coastal countries have relatively well-developed systems in place to prevent accidents by increasing safety of navigation. As an example, nearly 200 000 km2 of seabed, more than the combined surface area of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, have been resurveyed between 2001 and 2016 by national hydrographic agencies in the Baltic Sea, bringing the accuracy of nautical charts to a new level. The coastal countries also have response resources in place. However, new developments, such as carriage of modern low-sulphur fuels, require updates and new solutions for response procedures.In other chapters, the assessment informs on developments such as the recent and upcoming increases in sea based aquaculture, wind power, and offshore oil and gas production. The chapter on hazardous submerged objects draws attention to the environmental hazards in the legacy of dumped and lost military material, wrecks, and industrial waste.Groundbreaking data useThe report makes unprecedented use of the regional HELCOM Automatic Identification System (AIS) data, including high-resolution information on vessel movements in the entire sea basin since 2005. The extensive data is especially visible in the chapters related to maritime traffic and fisheries. Besides presenting a large number of maps and illustrations, the report includes a detailed description of the methodology used to extract and create the presented information from raw AIS data.The assessment also synthesises a number of other regional datasets on maritime activities in the Baltic Sea area stemming from regular national reporting to HELCOM. These cover issues such as spills observed via aerial surveillance, maritime accidents, response operations, port reception facilities, progress in hydrographic re-surveys, and aquaculture activities.An example of HELCOM collaborationThe 250-page report is the result of a two-year collaborative effort between the editorial team in the HELCOM Secretariat as well as national experts, providing review and additional material, and regional projects.The report is intended to support the update of the “” as well as to benefit the work of the relevant HELCOM Working Groups. It also enables the HELCOM Contracting Parties (Denmark, Estonia, European Union, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russian Federation and Sweden) to demonstrate achievements, and plan future regional work, on the regional objective “Environmentally friendly maritime activities”, agreed as part of the in 2007. In addition to this traditional publication, a large number of GIS datasets generated in the process, particularly AIS based maps on maritime activities, are released simultaneously for the general public via the (MADS). These maps are anticipated to be interesting and useful for various purposes beyond HELCOM cooperation, including national maritime spatial planning and research. The code used in producing these datasets is also made available for the same purpose via the GitHub platform, to help similar initiatives within and beyond the region.The HELCOM Maritime Assessment 2018 can be accessed at:

(12 MB) The GIS materials and code underlying the assessment can be accessed at:AIS Explorer: HELCOM Map and Data service, e.g. and GitHub:
 * * *Note for editors

is an intergovernmental organization
made up of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union.
Originally established in 1974, its primary aims as a governing body of the
Helsinki Convention (1974/1992) 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.HELCOM
works to address environmental effects of human activities on land and at sea.
Its working groups consist of national delegates and observers (industry and
civil society representatives). Groups dealing with measures to address
activities at sea include the HELCOM Maritime, Response, Fish and Pressure
Working Groups.The
drafting of an assessment of maritime activities in the Baltic Sea was agreed
by the coastal countries and EU during the 2013 . For more information, please contact:Hermanni Backer Professional Secretary for Maritime, Response and Fish groups HELCOM Tel:  +358 46 8509199 E-mail: hermanni.backer(at)helcom.fi

HELCOM today releases a comprehensive assessment of maritime activities in the Baltic Sea. The report covers a wide range human activities at sea, from commercial maritime traffic to leisure boating and from fisheries to hazardous submerged objects.

HELCOM agreement reached on next steps for a healthy Baltic Sea

​With three years remaining to reach the original deadline for a healthy Baltic Sea in 2021, the Ministers of the Environment and High-Level Representatives of the nine Baltic coastal countries and the European Union, meeting today in Brussels, Belgium, have agreed on new commitments for the Baltic marine environment. The ocean-related UN Sustainable Development Goals form a framework for the commitments.After intensive discussions, the Baltic Sea community today decided on renewed efforts for a healthy marine environment. Convening at the HELCOM Ministerial Meeting in Brussels, the responsible Ministers, the EU Commissioner, and other high-level representatives reached an agreement that includes an update of the Baltic Sea Action Plan, intensified efforts to reach the goals of the existing Plan, and a regional strategy for nutrient recycling.High-level representatives at the 2018 HELCOM Ministerial Meeting, from left: Jānis Eglīts (Vice Minister of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, Latvia), Camilla Gunell (Deputy Head of Government and Environmental Minister, Government of Åland), Karmenu Vella (Commissioner for the Environment, European Commission), Kęstutis Navickas (Minister of Environment, Lithuania), Barbara Hendricks (Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Germany), Siim Kiisler (Minister of the Environment, Estonia), Kimmo Tiilikainen (Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing, Finland), Nuritdin Inamov (Director of the Department for International Cooperation and Board member of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, Russia), Anna Moskwa (Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation, Poland), Esben Lunde Larsen (Minister for Environment and Food, Denmark), Marianne Wenning (Chair, HELCOM), Monika Stankiewicz (Executive Secreatary, HELCOM), Karolina Skog (Minister for the Environment, Sweden).Updated roadmap to a restored marine environmentThe Ministerial Meeting today agreed to update the (BSAP) – the concrete roadmap for restoring the ecological balance of the Baltic Sea – by 2021. The updated BSAP will include new measures that are needed to achieve the existing goals: a Baltic Sea unaffected by eutrophication, a Baltic Sea with life undisturbed by hazardous substances, maritime activities carried out in an environmentally friendly way, and favourable conservation status of the Baltic Sea biodiversity. Recognizing that some actions agreed upon in the original BSAP are yet to be completed, the Meeting also decided on renewed efforts to fulfil the existing BSAP by 2021. Particular focus will be put on addressing those pressures that the report identified as most widely-distributed and harmful, including excess nutrients, contamination, underwater noise, invasive alien species, excessive extraction of fish, and physical disturbance of the seabed. Among other things, the Meeting decided to elaborate regional and national actions to limit the impacts of underwater noise on sensitive marine species.In a significant move towards curbing eutrophication, the Meeting participants committed to developing a Baltic-wide nutrient recycling strategy by 2020, aiming for reduced nutrient inputs to the Baltic Sea and for more efficient use of nutrients. The regional policy will support countries in creating a sustainable and environmentally safe scheme for recycling nutrients in agriculture and from sewage sludge.”HELCOM is a true example of successful regional ocean governance,” states Mr Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for the Environment. “The Baltic Sea Region is leading the way with marine protected areas now covering more than 12% of the Sea. It has been designated as Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) Emissions Control Area. But we need to step up efforts to address other challenges such as eutrophication, marine litter and underwater noise. The Declaration adopted under EU Presidency by the HELCOM Ministers confirms the commitment by its members to work together to achieve a healthy Baltic Sea.”  HELCOM to coordinate the workA common thread to the decisions made at the Meeting were the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations Agenda 2030. The countries around the Baltic Sea have previously agreed to use HELCOM as the regional arena for coordinating work on those SDGs that relate to marine and water issues. The Meeting agreed that the SDGs will be used as a framework when updating the BSAP. The Meeting participants also higlighted the cooperation within HELCOM as a good example that has much to give to other regional seas in the world.The outcome of the Meeting – the Ministerial Declaration – forms the concrete framework for the following years’ work for a healthier Baltic Sea. The work will take place within the long tradition of regional HELCOM cooperation, based on best available expertise, and involving all countries and the EU and various sector ministries within countries.The Ministerial Meeting was chaired by HELCOM Chair Ms Marianne Wenning. Representing HELCOM members were Mr Karmenu Vella (Commissioner for the Environment, European Commission), Mr Esben Lunde Larsen (Minister for Environment and Food, Denmark), Mr Siim Kiisler (Minister of the Environment, Estonia), Mr Kimmo Tiilikainen (Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing, Finland), Dr Barbara Hendricks (Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Germany), Mr Kęstutis Navickas (Minister of Environment, Lithuania), Ms Karolina Skog (Minister for the Environment, Sweden), Mr Jānis Eglīts (Vice Minister of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, Latvia), Ms Anna Moskwa (Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation, Poland), and Mr Nuritdin Inamov (Director of the Department for International Cooperation and Board member of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, Russia).The entire Ministerial Declaration is available online at: Twitter hashtag: * * *More information (PDF) (first version 2017 – to be updated 2018)Note for editorsThe 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:Ms Monika Stankiewicz Executive Secretary HELCOM +358 40 840 2471 monika.stankiewicz(at)helcom.fiMs Sara Estlander Communication Coordinator HELCOM +358 40 482 6103 sara.estlander(at)helcom.fi

The Ministers of the Environment and High-Level Representatives of the nine Baltic coastal countries and the European Union, meeting today in Brussels, Belgium, have agreed on new commitments for the Baltic marine environment.

Baltic Sea community to decide on renewed efforts for a healthy Baltic Sea

 Today, at the 2018 HELCOM Ministerial Meeting in Brussels, Belgium, the Baltic Sea countries and the EU come together to decide on renewed efforts to reach a healthy Baltic marine environment. HELCOM – the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission – is the arena in which the nine Baltic coastal states and the European Union work together to protect and restore the marine environment of the Baltic Sea. At the today, the responsible Ministers, the EU Commissioner, and other high-level representatives meet to assess the progress made towards reaching a good environmental status in the Baltic Sea. The outcome – the Ministerial Declaration – will form the framework for the following years’ work for a healthier Baltic Sea, following the long tradition of regional HELCOM cooperation.New information to guide new actionsThe recent shows that in spite of some positive signals, the efforts so far have not led to the recovery of the Baltic Sea. This is the first time that a comprehensive assessment of ecosystem health on this scale, based on a wide range of indicators and information on human activities and their impacts, is available as background information for a HELCOM Ministerial Meeting. “Thanks to thorough groundwork, we now understand better than before how the different pressures add up on specific areas, species and habitats in the Baltic Sea,” says HELCOM Chair Ms Marianne Wenning. “Because of this, we know more about what’s important to consider with regard to managing human activities. In this way informed choices can be made in order to reduce environmental pressures.”One reason that the Baltic marine environment has not yet recovered is the long delay between cause and effect, due to the natural features of the Baltic Sea. Further, some actions agreed upon in the (BSAP) from 2007 – the concrete roadmap for restoring the ecological balance of the Baltic Sea – are yet to be completed. In addition, some aspects of the environment have so far not been addressed in Baltic-wide plans and policies.Stepping up and raising the barIn light of this new information, an important part of the Ministerial Meeting today will be to decide both on stronger follow-through on the existing BSAP and on a blueprint and timeframe for updating the BSAP. The current Baltic Sea Action Plan aims for a healthy Baltic Sea by 2021, and rests on actions aimed at eutrophication, hazardous substances, biodiversity, and maritime activities. In the discussions leading up to the Ministerial Meeting, marine litter, underwater noise, and seabed damage and disturbance have been raised as possible additional issues for countries to follow up on more strongly, striving to limit adverse effects by increasing efforts and coordination at regional level. At the Meeting, the high-level representatives will decide on the next steps for these themes: e.g., whether action plans will be developed, whether indicators will be developed to measure these issues, and so on. The Meeting is also expected to follow up on the existing Regional Action Plan for marine litter. The high-level representatives at the Meeting are also set to finalize discussions on a possible future HELCOM strategy regarding nutrient recycling in the Baltic Sea area. This has been one of the goals of the EU chairmanship of HELCOM, as part of the target of promoting sustainable agricultural practices. Nutrient recycling is essential for reducing nutrient losses to the Baltic Sea and for efficiently using the limited nutrient resources.Meeting global goalsA common thread to the themes of the Meeting are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations Agenda 2030. The countries around the Baltic Sea have agreed to use HELCOM as the regional arena for coordinating work on those SDGs that relate to marine and water issues. The Meeting follows up on the United Nations Ocean Conference in New York in June 2017, where HELCOM made several towards SDG 14 – “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources”.”The marine environment is threatened in many parts of the world’s oceans and the problems are often of a global nature,” says Ms Wenning. “Many of the UN SDGs are related to the state of seas and oceans so our work can serve as an important contribution to many of the SDGs goals.”The Ministerial Meeting will be chaired by HELCOM Chair Marianne Wenning of the EU. Expected to participate on behalf of HELCOM members are Mr Karmenu Vella (Commissioner for the Environment, European Commission), Mr Esben Lunde Larsen (Minister for Environment and Food, Denmark), Mr Siim Kiisler (Minister of the Environment, Estonia), Mr Kimmo Tiilikainen (Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing, Finland), Dr Barbara Hendricks (Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Germany), Mr Kęstutis Navickas (Minister of Environment, Lithuania), Ms Karolina Skog (Minister for the Environment, Sweden), Mr Jānis Eglīts (Vice Minister of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, Latvia), Ms Anna Moskwa (Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation, Poland), and Mr Nuritdin Inamov (Director of the Department for International Cooperation and Board member of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, Russia).The entire Ministerial Declaration will be available online after the meeting at: Twitter hashtag:  * * *More informationReport (PDF, 2 MB) (first version 2017 – to be updated 2018), June 2017, New York NOTE FOR EDITORSThe 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. The background to the Meeting is provided by two major reports: (PDF) and (first version 2017 – to be updated 2018).The , 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:Ms Monika Stankiewicz Executive Secretary HELCOM +358 40 840 2471 monika.stankiewicz(at)helcom.fiMs Sara Estlander Communication Coordinator HELCOM +358 40 482 6103 sara.estlander(at)helcom.fi

Today, at the 2018 HELCOM Ministerial Meeting in Brussels, Belgium, the Baltic Sea countries and the EU come together to decide on renewed efforts to reach a healthy Baltic marine environment.

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