Upcoming State of the Baltic Sea report to be in focus in the 2018 HELCOM Ministerial Meeting
The First version of the HELCOM State of the Baltic Sea report - June 2017 was approved by the 52nd Meeting of the HELCOM Heads of Delegation held on 20-21 June 2017 in Brussels.
HELCOM says the 'State of the Baltic Sea' report provides a scientific evaluation of the environmental status of the Baltic Sea during 2011-2015 from a holistic perspective. Pressures and impacts from human activities, as well as social and economic dimensions in the whole Baltic Sea are also assessed.
The first results of the status report including the underlying data will be published on a dedicated website in a few weeks' time. The results will be subject to a regional consultation to be carried out in 2017 by HELCOM. The report will be updated and finalized by June 2018, and the final report will include one additional year of monitoring data.
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 ten HELCOM members. The assessment will be used to analyse the progress for achieving good environmental status in relation to the goals of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan.
The results will 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.
The HELCOM Heads of Delegation meeting continued preparations for the HELCOM Ministerial Meeting, which will aim at strengthening the implementation of the Baltic Sea Action Plan until 2021, and to embark on the process of updating the Action Plan until 2030, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The Heads of Delegation also agreed on the final steps needed to publish the HELCOM Maritime Assessment 2017. The comprehensive publication and the underlying datasets, covering maritime transportation but also other topics such as fisheries, aquaculture, and off shore wind energy, will be released early in the autumn.
Another important decision by the Heads of Delegation was to approve the publication of the HELCOM core indicator of input of nutrients to the sea, the first product of the sixth HELCOM Pollution Load Compilation project (PLC-6) launched in 2013. HELCOM data on air- and waterborne inputs of nutrients cover the period from 1995 to 2014. The latest assessment revealed substantial progress towards fulfilling the target of maximum allowable input values identified by HELCOM. In the last three-year assessment (2012-2014) the average normalized input of nitrogen was reduced by 13% and phosphorus by 19% compared with the reference period (1997-2003). The input of nitrogen was below the maximum allowable input (MAI) in the Kattegat, Danish Straits and Bothnian Sea, while for phosphorus MAI was fulfilled in the Kattegat only.
The Meeting was chaired by HELCOM Chair Ms Marianne Wenning, DG Environment, European Union.
The State of the Baltic Sea assessment is worked on by the HOLAS II project (2014–18), which develops common concepts and methods for the status assessment based on core indicators, creates and tests the tools for aggregated results and, finally, 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 Helsinki Convention.
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, Annual Meeting, convenes usually in March. Approximately every three years the Commission meets at ministerial level.