2018 December 7 16:26
The update of the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) was a central topic at the 55th Meeting of the HELCOM Heads of Delegation (HOD 55-2018) held from 4 to 5 December 2018 at the HELCOM Secretariat in Helsinki, Finland, HELCOM says in a press release.
Initially set to end in 2021, the BSAP is HELCOM's strategic tool for a healthy Baltic Sea that sets ecological targets and measures for achieving good environmental status of the sea.
At HOD 55-2018, the meeting participants notably focussed on the evaluation of the efficiency of current measures. Understanding what actions work and what don't for a Baltic Sea in a better shape will be key for the update process.
The BSAP's continuation had already been decided by the HELCOM Ministers earlier in 2018, who then also agreed on a closer consideration of the ocean-related UN SDGs, Aichi targetsand MSFD descriptors in the update.
In Helsinki, on pressures on the marine environment, the HELCOM Heads of Delegation (HODs) also approved the latest assessment of nutrient input to the Baltic Sea covering the period from 1995 to 2016. The indicator shows progress in reduction of inputs of nitrogen and phosphorus, by 16 percent and 25 percent respectively.
However, for the entire sea, the levels of maximum allowable inputs (MAI) of nutrients have been exceed, and the Baltic Sea remains heavily eutrophic notably due to the accumulation of nutrients over the past decades.
To address this issue, and following up on the commitment made earlier in 2018 by the HELCOM Ministers to gain a better understanding of internal nutrient reserves and their management, the HELCOM Heads of Delegation agreed to establish a taskforce on sea-based measures for nutrient reduction.
The HELCOM taskforce will elaborate a risk assessment framework and regional principles as guidance for internal nutrient reserves management.
The HODs also welcomed the finalization of the Sixth HELCOM Pollution Load Compilation(PLC-6) project, and agreed on the publication of its executive summary that notably shows nutrient input to the Baltic Sea and progress in their reduction. The current assessment, PLC-7, is ongoing and results are expected by end of 2020.
The HELCOM Pollution Load Compilation (PLC) is essential part of HELCOM work aimed at assessment of the environmental pressure on Baltic Sea marine ecosystem from land based pollution sources.
On climate change, the Heads of Delegation established the new joint HELCOM-Baltic Earth Expert Network on Climate Change (EN CLIME). EN CLIME is expected to start its activities early 2019. HELCOM and Baltic Earth joined forces to work towards increasing the resilience of the Baltic Sea to the impacts of climate change.
HOD 55-2018 also commended the outreach and advocacy role of HELCOM on the international stage. Offering best-practices and its expertise on ocean management at the global level, HELCOM currently contributes, among others, to the Second World Ocean Assessment (WOA II), the UN Regional Seas Programme, and the description of Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs) under the Convention on Biological Diversity.
The Meeting was attended by participants from all HELCOM Contracting Parties and by observers from the Baltic Farmers' Forum on Environment (BFFE), the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference (BSPC), Baltic Sea States Subregional Co-operation (BSSSC) and CPMR Baltic Sea Commission, Coalition Clean Baltic (CCB), Federation of European Aquaculture Producers (FEAP), Race For The Baltic and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
The Heads of Delegation are the nationally designated representatives of the HELCOM Contracting Parties.