HELCOM Pressure Group meeting to start on 24 October in Vilnius, Lithuania
The seventh meeting of the HELCOM Pressure group will start on 24 October in Vilnius, Lithuania, HELCOM said in its press release. The highlight of the Meeting is the presentation of new products of the Sixth HELCOM Project on Pollution Load Compilation (PLC-6). These products include an evaluation of nutrient inputs from the major sources and their contribution to the total load on the Baltic Sea; an assessment of the effectiveness of measures to reduce the input; and an evaluation of how far the work to reduce nutrient input has come towards the targets set by HELCOM.
Marking that almost two years has passed since HELCOM adopted its regional action plan on marine litter, the group will evaluate the progress made so far on combatting marine litter, as well as suggest next steps. The group will also consider suggestions to revise a number of HELCOM Recommendations and to develop a new Recommendation on littering of the marine environment.
Alongside the main HELCOM meeting, three workshops are arranged, each on one key point of the meeting agenda: assessment of progress towards nutrient input reduction targets, implementation of the regional action plan on marine litter, and sewage sludge handling practices. The workshops will give experts an additional opportunity to discuss these matters in more detail and to provide support for the decisions to be made by the group.
Promotion of nutrient recycling is one of the HELCOM ministerial commitments. The group will discuss obstacles and drivers of cost-efficient and environmentally friendly recycling of nutrients, as well as what tools could be developed in the Baltic Sea region to support nutrient recycling, considering especially the major nutrient flows coming from agriculture and waste water. The Chair of the HELCOM Agri group will take part in the discussion, in order to ensure cooperation across sectors.
Moreover, the Meeting agenda includes several items on hazardous substances – in particular, the new HELCOM indicator on diclofenac, which is the first product of the freshly established HELCOM expert group on pharmaceuticals, as well as pollution by perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFAS) and other substances. The Group will also take stock of how the HELCOM Recommendations concerning land-based sources of pollution has been implemented so far.
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.
The Working Group on Reduction of Pressures from the Baltic Sea Catchment Area – Pressure group – focuses on nutrient and hazardous substance inputs from diffuse sources and point sources on land, including the follow-up of the implementation of the HELCOM nutrient reduction scheme. The group ensures the necessary technical underpinning as well as develops solutions to the policy-relevant questions and needs. Marine litter and underwater noise are also coordinated by this group.