4. März 2005

HELCOM announces Action Plan for Baltic Sea

Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (HELCOM)

HELCOM to develop Action Plan for the Baltic Sea

Dispatched March 3, 2005; for Immediate release

Helsinki, 3 March (HELCOM) – The Chair of the Helsinki Commission, Mr Arturas Daubaras announced today that HELCOM will begin to develop an Action Plan based on Ecological Quality Objectives in order to achieve a healthy Baltic Sea. This decision was unanimously adopted by representatives of all the Baltic Sea countries at the 26th annual Meeting of the Helsinki Commission, which took place 1-2 March in Helsinki, Finland. The draft European Marine Strategy, now being elaborated by the EU, foresees a separate action plan for each of the European seas. “HELCOM from now on will take the lead and play a key role, involving all stakeholders, in the development of the regional plan for the Baltic,” said Arturas Daubaras.

It was decided that the ongoing HELCOM work to develop Ecological Quality Objectives for the Baltic will provide the foundation for such an Action Plan. The Ecological Quality and associated indicators will be used to evaluate the efficiency of the existing environmental measures and to guide the future management measures for the region.

The Meeting adopted three new Recommendations on measures to prevent pollution in the Baltic Sea area.
The Recommendation on monitoring radioactive substance has been designed to support further efforts to protect the Baltic Sea against the possible harmful effects of radioactive substances by facilitating the compilation of reliable data on radionuclides in the different compartments of the marine environment.
The Recommendation on waterborne pollution load will require HELCOM countries to collect more reliable assessments of the waterborne loads of pollutants entering the Baltic Sea from land-based sources in order to facilitate concerted action to limit the pollution of the marine environment.
The third adopted Recommendation extends, as of 1 January 2006, the so called "no-special-fee" system, which has so far only covered oily wastes from machinery spaces, to also encompass garbage and sewage generated on ships. The no-special-fee system has the dual purpose of encouraging ships to dispose of their waste ashore instead of into the sea, while also encouraging that the waste burden is suitably shared, thus avoiding undesirable waste streams between ports. Such measures are vital in the implementation of the Baltic Strategy, which aims to substantially reduce the number of operational and illegal polluting discharges at sea.

One of the most important discussions at the Meeting focused on ways to enhance cooperation and coordination between the Helsinki Commission and the EU in order to ensure that hazardous substances threatening the Baltic Sea environment are adequately addressed at appropriate level. Representatives of the coastal countries discussed proposals for drawing the attention of the European Community to issues of specific concern to the Baltic Sea, such as dioxins. In addition, the Meeting emphasized the need to scrutinize whether proposed EU measures fully cover the needs of the unique Baltic Sea or if more specific hand-tailored HELCOM measures are required.

Representatives of the Baltic Sea States also discussed further measures to reduce airborne nitrogen based on a report identifying sources and assessing the adequacy of requirements for these particular sources of airborne nitrogen. About a quarter of the total nitrogen input to the Baltic Sea is coming from airborne nitrogen deposited directly on the Baltic Sea. As a significant share of the pollution entering the Baltic Sea originates in non-Contracting Parties, the Meeting also emphasized the importance of enhancing cooperation with Belarus, Ukraine and the Czech Republic.

The Helsinki Commission, or HELCOM, works to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution through intergovernmental co-operation between the countries bordering the sea - Denmark, Estonia, the European Community, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden.
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 more information, please contact:

Nikolay Vlasov
Information Secretary
Tel.: +358 (0) 9 62 20 2235
Mobile: +358 (0) 50 56 34 932
Fax: +358 9 6220 2239
(Information source: Environmental Network "Coalition Clean Baltic" CCB, Östra ?gatan 53, SE-753 22 UPPSALA, SwedenPhone: +46 18 71 11 55Fax: +46 18 71 11 75 www.ccb.se)

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