Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

 

Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

RETROUT project for promoting coastal fishing in the Baltic Sea convenes in Stockholm for its yearly partnership meeting

​The RETROUT project team meets in Stockholm for its yearly partnership meeting. © Maria ÅmanFor their yearly partnership meeting, the  project team members met in Stockholm from 1 to 2 October 2018 to report on the current state of the project and devise on future approaches and activities to be included in an updated of the work plan. With a focus on sea trout, the RETROUT project seeks to promote the Baltic Sea region as a major coastal fishing tourism destination. “Fishing tourism in the Baltic sea has a very large potential that is not yet fully realised, for instance due to poor environmental condition of some rivers in the Baltic Sea region,” said Håkan Häggström, the RETROUT Project Lead coordinator from the County Administrative Board of Stockholm. “With RETROUT, we want to tie together river restoration with sustainable economic growth driven by fishing tourism in coastal areas.” The RETROUT project particularly resonates with the  currently promoted by HELCOM, considering the needs and interlinkages of both healthy ecosystems and economic and social development.In Stockholm, HELCOM chaired the separate work group session for the RETROUT work package on ‘Assessment of status and management of sea trout rivers and stocks.’The aim of this  is to assess the status of and pressures on sea trout rivers and stocks, notably caused by recreational fishing. HELCOM also evaluates different river restoration methods and best practices, to provide recommendations on river and stock management. “At this stage of the project, it is now time to move on from plans to action. I see an interesting year ahead, with good progress on sea trout stock and habitat assessments. This is crucial information for successful river restorations,” said Henri Jokinen, the RETROUT Project manager at HELCOM.The HELCOM work is in line with the , and supports the  “Conservation of Baltic Salmon (Salmo salar) and Sea Trout (Salmo trutta) populations by the restoration of their river habitats and management of river fisheries.”The outcomes of the RETROUT project will also feed into the update process of the  (BSAP), HELCOM’s strategic tool for a healthy Baltic Sea and that already calls for plans on river restoration and management of coastal fish species among others. The results will notably facilitate the so-called “analysis of sufficiency of measures”, indicating whether current actions to reach the BSAP objectives are yielding the expected results or not. With 14 partners from Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, and including HELCOM, RETROUT is a three-year project running until September 2020 and promoting the Baltic Sea region as a coastal fishing tourism destination. RETROUT is a flagship project of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region . It is co-financed by the  under the Natural resources priority field.–For more information:Henri JokinenRETROUT Project managerhenri.jokinen@helcom.fi

For their yearly partnership meeting, the RETROUT project team members met in Stockholm from 1 to 2 October 2018 to report on the current state of the project and devise on future approaches and activities to be included in an updated of the work plan. Wi

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

Eel and the Baltic Sea in the focus of a joint regional workshop

Experts to discuss Baltic Sea processes for eel assessment and managementAim: identifying ways of working together on eel more efficientlyEel and the Baltic Sea is the topic of a regional workshop starting today in Stockholm, which gathers representatives from management bodies, scientific experts, and relevant stakeholders in charge of assessment and management of eel in countries around the Baltic Sea and its tributaries. European eel. Image: The workshop will share information on international, regional, and national processes on eel assessment and management that are relevant for the Baltic Sea. Based on this, the workshop will discuss similarities, differences, challenges, and opportunities for next steps.”During the three days, we bring together information, expertise, and interest, in order to identify possible ways to contribute to managing this shared resource. We will especially consider how we could work together in the Baltic Sea region more efficiently,” says Willem Dekker, the workshop moderator and senior scientist at the Swedish University of Agriculture (SLU) specialised on eel.The workshop is organized as part of the , in cooperation with the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and Sargasso Sea Commission (SSC), and with presentations from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the EU Commission and the Baltic Sea Advisory Council (BSAC). The Workshop is hosted by the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management (SWAM) with the Swedish University of Agriculture (SLU). The outcome will be submitted to the HELCOM Fish group and other organizations/bodies, as appropriate, for consideration and follow-up.* * *Background informationThe deals with the implementation of the ecosystem-based approach in fisheries and considers how the sector could help reach Good Environmental Status in the Baltic Sea by 2021. The group involves representatives from fisheries and environmental authorities of the Baltic Sea countries, as well as EU, and HELCOM Observers and others as appropriate. Its official name is the HELCOM Group on Ecosystem-based Sustainable Fisheries. The Task force on migratory fish species (FISH-M) is a sub-group of HELCOM FISH which looks at the particular challenges around migratory fish species such as salmon, seatrout and eel.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 Helsinki Convention.* * *ContactsWillem DekkerSenior scientist, Swedish University of Agricultural SciencesMobile: +46 76 126 8136 E-mail: Willem.Dekker@slu.seHermanni Backer Professional Secretary for Maritime, Response and Fish groups HELCOM Tel: +358 46 8509199 Skype: helcom02 E-mail: hermanni.backer(at)helcom.fi

Experts to discuss Baltic Sea processes for eel assessment and management, with the aim of identifying ways of working together on eel more efficiently

HELCOM to test first pharmaceutical indicator and focus on improving the Marine Protected Area network

The HELCOM State & Conservation group meeting endorses the first HELCOM pharmaceutical indicator for testingImproving the effectiveness of the network of important marine areas in the Baltic Sea tied to global processes and management of human activitiesThe Seventh Meeting of the HELCOM (STATE & CONSERVATION 7-2017) took place in Sopot, Poland 23–27 October. The Working Group is set up to thake a two-pronged approach, linking topics related to monitoring with biodiversity and conservation issues. The key theme of the meeting was the continuing work to update and further improve the holistic . The initial version of the report was published in June 2017 and gives a comprehensive overview of the health of the Baltic Sea, ranging from physical to biological to social and economic aspects. Most of the assessment results in the report are based on indicators, and the meeting agenda included a draft for a new indicator on the drug diclofenac – the first HELCOM indicator for pharmaceuticals. The meeting endorsed the use of this indicator as a pre-core test indicator, meaning it will be included in the updated report using a descriptive approach, as opposed to a quantitative approach based on decided threshold values. The final version of the report, including final results based on 2011–2016 data, will be released in June 2018.Another step forward was the agreement to focus efforts on further improving the HELCOM Marine Protected Area (MPA) network, specifically the necessity for updating the guidance provided by HELCOM on how MPAs are to be designated and managed. Clearer guidelines are needed in order to better link the MPA network to the planning of human activities at sea (often referred to as Marine Spatial Planning) and to current international commitments, as well as to ensure that the network lives up to its full potential.  Current network of HELCOM Marine Protected AreasParallel to the continued work to improve the effectiveness of the MPA network, the work on marine spatial planning and MPAs will take another major step forward, both in a regional and a global context, at a high-level workshop aimed at describing Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs). EBSAs are special areas in the ocean that serve important purposes to support the healthy functioning and the many services that the sea provides (for more background information, see ). The designation of EBSAs in the Baltic Sea is an important step in linking the region to the global network of areas already identified under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD). The workshop will take place in Helsinki on 19 to 24 February 2018, hosted by Finland and convened by the Secretariat of the UN CBD in cooperation with HELCOM.The meeting also updated HELCOM Recommendation 19/3 on ‘The Manual for the Marine Monitoring in the Combine Programme of HELCOM’ and HELCOM Recommendation 24/10 ‘Implementation of Integrated Marine and Coastal Management of Human Activities in the Baltic Sea Area’, both of which will be submitted to HELCOM Heads of Delegation 53-2017 in December for a decision.. All documents will be public after the meeting.* * *Note for editorsThe Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as , is an intergovernmental organization of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union working to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution and to ensure safety of navigation in the region. Since 1974, HELCOM has been the governing body of the ‘Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area’, more commonly known as the Helsinki Convention.HELCOM covers the monitoring and assessment functions as well as nature conservation and biodiversity protection in HELCOM. The group works across the monitoring-indicators-assessment chain for the coordinated development of HELCOM thematic assessment tools, as well as for a coherent holistic assessment of the ecosystems health.* * * For more information, please contact:Jannica Haldin Professional Secretary HELCOM Tel. +358 40 485 5905 E-mail: jannica.haldin(at)helcom.fi ​

HELCOM State & Conservation group meeting endorses the first HELCOM pharmaceutical indicator for testing – Improving the effectiveness of the network of important marine areas in the Baltic Sea tied to global processes and management of human activities

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.

HELCOM delegates discuss the key Baltic Sea goals of 2017

​​​​​​​Greenlighting key tools and indicators for State of the Baltic Sea report a major topic in HELCOM Heads of Delegation meeting this week High-level segment on ocean-related Sustainable Development Goals to take place on 28 February 2017   Delegations representing all Baltic coastal states as well as the EU this week at HELCOM headquarters to discuss and decide on the best measures for improving the Baltic marine environment. HELCOM holistic assessment 2017, a major discussion point by HELCOM delegates this week, will also rely on the upgraded tools to assess the themes of biodiversity, hazardous substances and eutrophication. Photo: Metsähallitus NHS/Niina Kurikka.The meeting participants will face major decisions required for completing HELCOM State of the Baltic Sea report (), first results due in mid-2017. Draft Recommendations on sewage sludge and conservation of underwater biotopes and habitats are expecting agreement. The 2-day meeting will also discuss the final plans for the HELCOM high-level segment on ocean-related Sustainable Development Goals, taking place on 28 February 2017.The delegates, observers and other stakeholders attending the meeting in Helsinki, Finland will seek final unanimity for few main components of the State of the Baltic Sea report (HOLAS II, full name: Second Holistic Assessment of the Ecosystem Health of the Baltic Sea). The final shape of used for the assessment must now be agreed on. The holistic assessment will also rely on the upgraded tools to assess the themes of biodiversity, hazardous substances and eutrophication, improved since the previous Holistic Assessment of 2010, and two of them are expecting final blessings from the delegations this week.One of the many HELCOM outcomes from the past six months include the thoroughly revised HELCOM Response Manual Vol III to Pollution Incidents on the , which the delegates are invited to endorse. Moreover, an agreement is expected on a regional implementation plan for the IMO Water Management Convention, entering into force globally in September next year. Compilations of pollution load data () have been an integral part of HELCOM assessment system since 1987. The next edition, PLC-7, is expecting approval for being prepared by 2020 and covering the data from 1995 until 2017. HELCOM will host a high-level as a part of its Annual Meeting in the end of February 2017 and the agenda will now be discussed. The session will focus on how to achieve ocean-related UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the Baltic Sea and progress in addressing the regional environmental challenges. The many aligning targets and goals of the UN and HELCOM are the underlying factor for the session. HELCOM is one of 18 Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans in the world working together under the umbrella of UNEP and instrumental in the work on SDGs.The 51st Meeting of the Heads of Delegation will be held on 14-15 December 2016 in Helsinki, Finland and chaired by HELCOM Chair Ms Marianne Wenning, DG Environment, European Union. . All documents will be public after the meeting. * * * Note for editors:An update on the overall state of ecosystem health in the Baltic Sea is underway. Improved tools as well as more comprehensive approaches will be applied in the State of the Baltic Sea report (full name: Second Holistic Assessment of Ecosystem Health in the Baltic Sea, ). This major assessment will assist the region’s environmental managers and decision-makers who are to base their work on sound, up-to-date knowledge of the status of the sea. The State of the Baltic Sea report will develop common concepts and methods for the status assessment based on core indicators; create and test the tools for aggregated results and, finally, perform assessments at a regional scale. Importantly, the assessment will also include a socio-economic analysis, about the costs of a deteriorating marine environment, as well as a selection of optimal measures for improving the status of the sea. The first results will be released in mid-2017 and updated during the following 12 months. * * * HELCOM Heads of Delegation, nominated by the 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, Annual Meeting, convenes usually in March. * * * The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as , is an intergovernmental organization of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union working to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution and to ensure safety of navigation in the region. Since 1974, HELCOM has been the governing body of the ‘Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area’, more commonly known as the Helsinki Convention. * * * For more information, please contact:Johanna Laurila Information Secretary HELCOM Tel: +358 40 523 8988 Skype: helcom70 E-mail: johanna.laurila(at)helcom.fi​

Greenlighting key tools and indicators for State of the Baltic Sea report a major issue in HELCOM Heads of Delegation meeting this week.

More transparency and political leadership called for in HELCOM seminar

​​​​​Major sectors in the Baltic Sea spoke out about HELCOM pollution reduction targetsMarine environment protection was high in the agenda of the EUSBSR Strategy Forum in Stockholm this week

Major sectors in the Baltic Sea spoke out about HELCOM pollution reduction targets in this week’s seminar in the EUSBSR Strategy Forum in Stockholm.