Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

 

Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

Mapping of essential fish habitats gets underway in joint HELCOM-Pan Baltic Scope workshop

Experts in marine biology and maritime spatial planning came together in Riga from 12 to 13 December in a workshop addressing essential fish habitats in the Baltic Sea, with the goal to map the most significant areas.

“We want to see where the important fish habitats are in the Baltic Sea,” said Lena Bergström from HELCOM who co-organized the workshop together with Latvia, adding that the maps will be a useful tool for better informed maritime spatial planning (MSP).

During the workshop, participants validated the proposed essential fish habitats maps, and provided recommendations for their further use in HELCOM. The maps will eventually be made available to maritime spatial planners as well as other users on HELCOM’s website.

Essential fish habitats are – as their name suggests – essential for the healthy development of fish during their entire life cycle, from spawning, nursery and feeding to maturity. These habitats play an important role in the entire food web chain and marine ecosystem.

Since most fish species use different habitat types for different periods of their life cycle, the workshop notably focussed on describing different categories such as spawning areas, nursery areas for larvae and juveniles, adult feeding areas, and migratory corridors.The information presented during the workshop will be further used in the , to develop a concept of for supporting maritime spatial planning in the HELCOM region.

A novelty in MSP, green infrastructure seeks to promote an ecosystem-based approach in maritime spatial plans that also integrates the ecosystem services rendered by the marine environment – the free benefits we humans gain from a sea in a healthy state. The workshop was co-organised by HELCOM and the Pan Baltic Scope project, and hosted by the Latvian Ministry of Environment.

Experts in marine biology and maritime spatial planning came together in Riga from 12 to 13 December in a workshop addressing essential fish habitats in the Baltic Sea, with the goal to map the most significant areas.

UN agrees to nine marine ecologically significant areas in the Baltic Sea

The nine new EBSAs in the Baltic Sea © HELCOMHelsinki, 30 November 2018 – A final step for nine ecologically unique marine areas in the Baltic Sea to be included in a global registry was taken during the held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt from 17 to 29 November 2018.Altogether, the nine so-called  (EBSAs) cover 23 percent of the Baltic Sea waters. Five are transboundary areas, spanning over waters of two or more countries. Describing these EBSAs was a commitment by HELCOM made at the UN Ocean Conference in New York in 2017, a pledge of the Baltic Sea region for advancing the  (SDG 14).The new EBSAs were identified in Helsinki earlier in February 2018 during the  convened by the UN Secretariat of the  (CBD) in collaboration with HELCOM, with financial support from Finland and Sweden.According to the  (CBD, also known as UN Biodiversity) that keeps the , EBSAs are “special areas in the ocean that serve important purposes, in one way or another, to support the healthy functioning of oceans and the many services that it provides.” EBSAs are usually characterized by unique biological features. Knowing the position of these areas will also facilitate maritime spatial planning (MSP), notably in transboundary areas. “Beyond the protection of unique biodiversity, the EBSAs in the Baltic Sea can greatly help to establish maritime spatial plans that are coherent across borders, eventually leading to greater efficiencies for managing our activities at sea and improving the state of the sea,” said Monika Stankiewicz, HELCOM’s Executive Secretary.  In addition to being of value to maritime spatial planning that is based on the , the EBSAs could also contribute to the red-listing of threatened species and biotopes, the evaluation of effectiveness and coherence of marine protected areas (MPAs) networks, and future .The description of the EBSAs was based on , including a large number of biogeographic, biological and physical datasets and analyses available in HELCOM. Since 2011, the CBD Secretariat has convened 13 regional EBSA workshops, assessing more than 74 percent of the world’s total ocean surface. A set of seven criteria is currently being used to describe EBSAs, notably focussing on uniqueness, vulnerability and biological diversity of the marine area.The  is held in in the seaside town of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt from 17 to 23 November 2018, with national governments, regional organizations, and other key stakeholders from around the world engaging in discussions on the  and starting the momentum for a post-2020 global biodiversity framework. ***The nine Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs) in the Baltic Sea:Northern Bothnian Bay Kvarken Archipelago Åland Sea, Åland Islands and the Archipelago Sea of Finland Eastern Gulf of FinlandInner Sea of West Estonian Archipelago South-eastern Baltic Sea Shallows Southern Gotland Harbour Porpoise Area Fehmarn Belt Fladen, Stora and Lilla Middelgrund *** CBD criteria for describing EBSAsUniqueness or RaritySpecial importance for life history stages of speciesImportance for threatened, endangered or declining species and/or habitatsVulnerability, Fragility, Sensitivity, or Slow recoveryBiological ProductivityBiological DiversityNaturalness ***Note for editors For immediate release About HELCOMHELCOM is an intergovernmental organization working to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea, with its members – so-called Contracting Parties – being Denmark, Estonia, the European Union, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden. HELCOM (short for the Helsinki Commission, and its official name, the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission) is the governing body of the Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area, also known as the Helsinki Convention. The Helsinki Convention was established in 1974 to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution. HELCOM’s vision for the future is a healthy Baltic Sea environment with diverse biological components functioning in balance, resulting in a good ecological status and supporting a wide range of sustainable economic and social activities. ***For more information, please contact:Dominik LittfassCommunication Secretary+358 40 647 3996 

A final step for nine ecologically unique marine areas in the Baltic Sea to be included in a global registry was taken during the UN Biodiversity Conference held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt from 17 to 29 November 2018.

HELCOM report on coastal fish in the Baltic Sea finds that only half of the assessed areas are in a good state

 HELCOM recently published a report assessing coastal fish in the Baltic, the . According to the report, only about half of the assessed areas obtain a good status.In general, the overall status of varies between geographical areas, with the north of the Baltic faring slightly better than the south. Key species and piscivores show a better status in more northern areas of the Baltic, compared to the south of the sea. For cyprinids, the status is often insufficient due to overabundance, especially in the north-eastern part of the Baltic.  “The report summarizes the current status of coastal fish communities in the Baltic Sea as derived from official monitoring programs of the ,” said Jens Olsson from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and who led the report. “It also contains short reviews on the factors regulating the communities and potential measures for the restoration and protection of coastal fish in the Baltic Sea.”To date, measures to restore and support coastal fish communities have barely been evaluated. As highlighted in the report, fishing regulations including permanent or temporary no-take areas, gear regulations, and habitat protection and restoration are measures that have shown to have a positive effects on fish populations.Coastal fish communities are regulated by a plethora of both natural and human-induced factors such as fishing, habitat exploitation, climate, eutrophication and interactions between species in the ecosystem.In being in the central part of the food-web, coastal fish are of key ecological and socio-economic importance, and their status often reflects the general health of coastal ecosystems.Depending on the sub-basin, the assessed key species were mainly perch and, in some southern areas, also flounder. The monitored piscivorous fish were perch, pike, pike-perch, burbot, cod and turbot. In the cyprinid family, roach and breams dominated the catch assessed. In the few areas where cyprinids do not occur naturally, mesopredatory fish were assessed instead, such as wrasses, sticklebacks, flatfishes, clupeids and gobies.”The information contained in this report is a valuable basis for following up on the objectives of the  and , as well as for the development of national management plans for coastal fish,” concluded Olsson.   –For more information:Jens OlssonSwedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU Aqua)jens.olsson@slu.se

HELCOM recently published a report assessing coastal fish in the Baltic. According to the report, only about half of the assessed areas obtain a good status.

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).

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