Monitoring programme: Biodiversity - Seabed habitats, , Hydrographic changes
Programme topic: Seabed habitat distribution and extent

Sub-programme: Seabed habitat physical characteristics

table of contentS

Regional coordination

Purpose of monitoring

Monitoring concepts table

Assessment requirements

Data providers and access



REgional Coordination

The monitoring of this sub-programme is: under development.


Purpose of monitoring (q4K)

Follow up of progress towards:

Baltic Sea Action Plan​ (BSAP) ​ ​ ​Segments ​Biodiversity
​Ecological objectives ​​Natural distribution and occurence of plants and animals
Marine strategy framework directive (MSFD) ​ ​ Monitoring Programmes

​​D1 Biodiversity

D6  Seabed habitats

Other relevant legislation (Q8a)
​Habitats Directive
Water Framework Directive


Assessment of: (Q4k)
State/Impacts ​​X spatial distribution

Human activities
causing the pressures
Effectiveness of measures

Scale of data aggregation for assessments: (Q10a)
HELCOM assessment unit Level 1: Baltic Sea X
​HELCOM assessment unit Level 2: Subbasin
HELCOM assessment unit Level 3: Subbasins with coastal and offshore division​
HELCOM assessment unit Level 4: Subbasins with coastal WFD division
​Other: Continuous map

Monitoring concepts table

Coordination Elements
Q9a (Q5c)
Q9a (Q5c)
Q9c, Q9d
Q9e, 9f
Q9h, 9i
Spatial resolution
Q9g, 9i
Link to HELCOM core indicators Link to
MSFD GES characteristics

Spatial scope
Monitoring started
CPs monitoring
National Bathymetry
Bathymetric depth
As needed
Entire sea area
​Supporting parameter
7 Permanent alteration of hydrographical conditions does not adversely affect marine ecosystems
All HELCOM Contracting Parties
National Topography and substrate
Physical feature of habitat (e.g. sediment characteristics, topographic sturcture)
National As needed
Entire sea area
​Supporting parameter
6.1 Physical damage, having regard tosubstrate characteristics
7.1 Spatial characterizationof permanent alterations

All HELCOM Contracting Parties
​National ​Temperature National National​ Monthly​ Station-based covering coastal and offshiore waters and sub-basins​ ​​Supporting parameter ​EEZ ​All HELCOM Contracting Parties
​National ​Salinity ​​Salinity National ​​National ​Monthly ​Station-based covering coastal and offshore waters and sub-basins ​​Supporting parameter 7 Permanent alteration of hydrographical conditions does not adversely affect marine ecosystems ​EEZ ​All HELCOM Contracting Parties


Brief description of monitoring

Full description in HELCOM COMBINE manual. Detailed information on monitoring frequency and spatial resolution has not yet been collected from all countries but will be added.

​Element / parameter
Bathymetry, topography and substrate
​Method Topography, substrate and bathymetry are surveyed regularly by authorities, and at least in Finland and Sweden, not considered as part of environmental monitoring. The information is used to support environmental monitoring and assessment activities.
QA/QC National
Frequency ​-
Spatial Scope All sub-basins.
Spatial resolution 100% coverage



Monitoring requirements and gaps

Monitoring is to be carried out to fulfill assessment requirements of HELCOM ecological objectives that are specified through HELCOM core indicators. The requirements on monitoring can include number of stations, the sampling frequency and replication.

Monitoring requires baseline mapping of the physical characteristics of the seabed (substrate, grain size, topography, bathymetry, salinity regime, temperature regime). This should be periodically monitored in order to improve the baseline maps but also to notice changes. Common methods/guidelines needed.
​Gaps Seabed physical characteristics are mapped for the entire Baltic Sea, but the level of detail and reliable resolution are not adequate for all areas. As the seabed mapping methods improve, the baseline maps are expected to improve. Benthic salinity and temperature monitoring is done alongside the monitoring for macrofauna and macrophytes and is mainly station-based. Common methods and guidelines needed.


Adequacy for assessment of GES (Q5d)

Monitoring should provide adequate data and information  to enable the periodic assessment of environmental status, and distance from and progress towards GES as required by MSFD under Article 9 and 11.

​Adequate data?​
Established methods for assessment? Yes, but needs improvement to achieve reliable resolution.
​Adequate understanding of GES?
Adequate capacity to perform assessments? No

Assessment of natural variability (Q5e)

Baseline mapping still needed.

Data providers and access

​Data access point
​National databases
Data type (Q10c)
Unprocessed/raw data, processed datasets​, data products
Data availability (Q10c)​
By request
​Data access (Q10c)
​INSPIRE standard (Q10c)
Habitats and biotopes
When will data become available? (Q10c)
Data update frequency (Q10c)
As needed; Seabed mapping for topography and substrate are done more or less continuously but the work is slow and it takes time to cover large sea areas.
Describe how the data and information from the programme will be made accessible to the EC/EEA ​-
​​Contact points in the Contracting parties Contact point to national monitoring programmes will be added
​Has the data been used in HELCOM assessments?