Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas


Krunnit archipelago, Finland. Photo by Essi Keskinen / Metsähallitus

Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSA) are special areas in world's oceans that serve important purposes, in one way or another, to support the healthy functioning of oceans and the many services that they provide.

Following the voluntary commitment from HELCOM Contracting Parties at the United Nations Oceans Conference in June 2017, HELCOM has started the process of identifying EBSAs in the Baltic Sea. The February 2018 EBSA workshop is expected to result in a proposal for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to consider during the later half of 2018.

In the Baltic Sea Region, the EBSA process is expected to provide important information that can be used

  • in the national and transboundary Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) processes in the Baltic Sea, to fulfil the regional goal of drawing up and applying maritime spatial plans which are coherent across borders and apply the ecosystem approach,

  • as green infrastructure features that ensure the protection of the state and biodiversity of the marine ecosystem as well as improve its functioning while promoting ecosystem services, and

  • to contribute to other HELCOM processes, such as the Red List, evaluation of effectiveness and coherence of MPA networks, and future HELCOM Holistic Assessments.