HELCOM COMBINE database (13MB zipped .csv) contains data of oceanographic monitoring data gathered by HELCOM Contracting Parties within the COMBINE monitoring programme.

COMBINE database is hosted by ICES and can be accessed online at ICES data centre web pages. Data about concentrations of hazardous substances in water, sediment and biota can be accessed under DOME database. HELCOM indicator data products derived from COMBINE database can be viewed in the Baltic Sea Environmental status map service.


HELCOM MORS Environmental database stores environmental levels of radioactivity in the Baltic Sea, reported by contracting parties in accordance with relevant HELCOM recommendations and guidelines.

 Pressures_Icon.png  Pressures and human activities

PLC Water

​HELCOM PLC database contains all waterborne nutrient and contaminant discharges gathered by HELCOM contracting parties within pollution load monitoring.

MORS Discharge

HELCOM MORS Discharge database contains discharges reported from nuclear installations.


HELCOM Map and Data service contains datasets on fishing activity in the Baltic Sea. The service contains three group layers: 

  • Fishing insensity based on VMS/logbook data 2009-2016 (2017, see further details in advice request document.
  • Fishing effort based on VMS/logbook data 2009-2013 (2015)
  • ​​​​​​Commercial fisheries catches by ICES Squares 2003-2007 (2010)

See below the detailed description of fisheries VMS/logbook data processing for the 2009-2013 data.  


HELCOM requires spatially explicit information on fishing activity affecting the Baltic Sea marine ecosystem for policy purposes. In order to obtain this information, a joint ICES/HELCOM/OSPAR data call was issued to relevant authorities of Contracting Parties to deliver information on fishing activity based on VMS/Log book data. Upon a request by HELCOM the data was processed to advice data products by ICES Working Group for Spatial Fisheries (WGSFD). Processing of the raw data was done by ICES WGSFD following Conditions for VMS data use, so as to make use of required specific resources, knowledge and guarantee of anonymity for specific vessels.


In 2015 ICES collated Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) and logbook data received; data from Russia were not received. HELCOM requested advice, as fishing abrasion pressure maps as well as fishing effort maps, were provided by ICES.


Spatial scope: HELCOM Marine area. All contracting parties except Russia provided data.

Temporal scope: 2009-2013. Calculated values for each year and for each quarter of 2013

Spatial resolution: C-square grid 0.05 x 0.05 degrees

Format: ESRI shapefile (polygon)

The maps and shapefiles of fishing intensity and effort were calculated for bottom contact gear and mid-water trawl and longline for every year in the period from 2009 to 2013 and for each quarter of 2013. The following maps were produced:

  1. intensity of fishing by each fishing activity for each year in the period from 2009 to 2013
  2. total intensity for each year in the period from 2009 to 2013
  3. total intensity and by each fishing activity by quarter in 2013

HELCOM secretariat did the following further processing to the data:

  • Conversion to ETRS89LAEA coordinate system
  • Added attribute "Reported" to display unreported area (Russian EEZ).

Dataset attribute information:

c-square: Unique reference of the c-square polygon

geargroup: Fishing gear group (Effort maps)
mid_lat: latitude coordinate of the centroid of c-square inWGS84 decimal degrees
SubsurfSAR: Subsurface swept area ratio (Intensity maps)
mid_lon: longitude coordinate of the centroid of c-square inWGS84 decimal degrees
SurfSAR: Surface swept area ratio (Intensity maps)
Year: Year of fishing activity
Fishing_ho: Total fishing effort in hours within c-square (Effort maps)
quarter: Quarter of the year, if applicable
Reported: Yes=Reported data. No= No reported data (area that does not contain effort/intensity value due to lack of reported data).

Following definitions given in ICES advice to OSPAR, understanding of "fishing intensity" is clarified in the fishing abrasion pressure maps produced for the advice to OSPAR. Abrasion pressure is not appropriate for midwater trawls and longlines; therefore, maps for all gears have been produced using fishing effort as the number of hours fished, extracted from the submitted VMS data.

Using methods described by ICES WGSFD, fishing abrasion pressure maps were produced for mobile bottom-contacting gears. In line with the methodology, separate maps were produced for surface and subsurface abrasion. The resulting maps showing fishing abrasion and fishing effort have also been provided as ESRI shapefile data to HELCOM and are available via HELCOM Map and Data service. When using these data caveats listed in the section "Conditions of Use" should be considered.


The outcome data products display fishing intensity and effort in the Baltic Sea. Largest swept area ratios and fishing effort for subsurface abrasion of mobile bottom contacting gear were found in the Southern Baltic and Kattegat. The highest fishing effort for midwater trawls was located in Eastern Gotland Basin and the Gulf of Riga. Fishing effort using longline gear was mainly focused in Bornholm Basin. The fishing effort was also calculated per each 174 HELCOM Marine Protected Area (MPA).

The analysis was also carried out on the proportion of fisheries represented by the data. The proportion of the total landings (by weight) that was recorded by logbooks and are represented by VMS data increased in 2012 compared to earlier years, in 2012 VMS became mandatory for >12 m vessels. In 2013 VMS data captured 81.6% of total fisheries for all mobile bottom-contacting gear, for midwater trawls 99.6% of the landings are covered by VMS, and for the longlines, only 23% of the landings are covered by VMS.

Read full advice text here.


The data products derived from the HELCOM requested advice from ICES are downloadable from HELCOM Map and Data service and can be used freely given that the source is cited. Requested advice can be used as appropriate by HELCOM when embarking on further marine policy-related issues.

The correct data product citation is the following:

ICES. 2015. Fishing abrasion pressure maps for mobile bottom-contacting gears in HELCOM area. HELCOM requested advice from ICES. 


When using the data for analysis/assessments the following caveats need to be taken into consideration:

  • Data from Russia were not received
  • The methods for identifying fishing activity from the VMS data varied between countries; therefore there may be some country-specific biases that ICES cannot evaluate. Additionally, activities other than active towing of gear may have been incorrectly identified as fishing activity. This would have the effect of overestimating the apparent fishing intensity in ports and in areas used for passage.
  • The data for 2012 and 2013 is not directly comparable to the data of previous years in the data call (2009–2011) due to the gradual increase in VMS-enabled vessels in the range of 12–15 m. This is likely to be most relevant when examining trends in effort for inshore areas.
  • Many countries have substantial fleets of smaller vessels that are not equipped with VMS (< 15 m prior to 2012, < 12 m thereafter); logbook data is at the spatial resolution of ICES rectangles, but where possible, they have been overlaid with the VMS data for the purpose of analysis.
  • The fishing abrasion pressure methodology is based on very broad assumptions in terms of the area affected by abrasion. A single speed and gear width were applied across each gear category in most cases, which can lead to both underestimates and overestimates in actual surface and subsurface abrasion.



GIS datasets produced by the BALANCE project can be viewed and downloaded from the HELCOM Map and Data service and from the HELCOM Metadata catalogue.

BALANCE – "Baltic Sea Management – Nature Conservation and Sustainable Development of the Ecosystem through Spatial Planning" – was an INTERREG III B co-funded project aimed towards development of informed marine management tools for the Baltic Sea based on spatial planning and cross-sectoral and transnational co-operation. BALANCE started in July 2005 and ended in December 2007.


​The metadatabase (MS Access accdb format) on seabird monitoring surveys was established in a project "Baltic Sea Pilot project: Testing new concepts for integrated environmental monitoring of the Baltic Sea" (BALSAM). The task of Work Package 3 was to catalogue information on seabird monitoring in the Baltic since 1991 to a database. The database contains information on monitoring surveys carried out in HELCOM Contracting Parties.

The data collection activity has been supported by the  BALSAM project​ (co-financed by the European Union DG 

​Coastal Fish

​From the application, it is possible to:

  • View, search and filter data entries
  • Download data as csv
  • View locations of monitoring stations/areas (linked to HELCOM Map and Data service)

porpoise database

​HELCOM countries agreed in 2007 to further develop in co-operation with the 1991 Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas (ASCOBANS) a coordinated reporting system and database on Baltic harbour porpoise sightings, by-catches and strandings. Data was collected originally in 2004 within the Baltic Sea Porpoise and Jastarnia projects. The original database was funded by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, Germany and the data was updated in HELCOM Secretariat in 2010 with financial support from UNEP/ASCOBANS. 

Currently, the database will be updated as new information comes available. Latest updates (2016 data for incidental sightings) to the database were included in February 2018.

The HELCOM Contracting Parties are asked to use this reporting form when reporting harbour porpoise data to HELCOM Secretariat. HELCOM SEAL 11-2017 meeting agreed on this data form for acoustic monitoring meta-data, which can be used for reporting acoustic data. 

Note: the numbers on by-catch represent a minimum of by-catches due to their common underreporting.


​HELCOM MPA Database (former Baltic Sea Protected Areas (BSPA) database) is designed to centralise relevant information on the Baltic Sea Protected Areas. The database includes general information on the sites and their management plans, as well as lists of species, biotopes, and biotope complexes.


​HELCOM Seal database stores information on abundance of grey seal, harbour seal and ringed seal as gathered by HELCOM SEAL Expert Group based on counted seals.

The data collection activity has been supported by the  BALSAM project​ (2013-2015, co-financed by the European Union DG Environment)and is carried on by the HELCOM SEAL EG. Figures represent counted numbers of seals during the standardized aerial surveys. The surveys are carried out during the species-specific peak moulting period when the proportion of individuals hauling out at their moulting sites/habitats is the highest. Numbers can be considered as minimum population estimates since a part of the population is always in the water and not reachable in the surveys.

Numbers can be viewed per sea area, but it must be noticed that outside of the moulting time seals can travel long distances and may be differently distributed to the Baltic Sea. The abundance data is produced by national seal monitoring executives within Contracting Parties. 

Download Grey Seal Excel sheet

Download Harbour Seal Excel sheet

Download Ringed Seal Excel sheet


The maps below describe, as examples, habitat use of grey seals, harbour seals and ringed seals as gathered by HELCOM SEAL Expert Group based on seals marked with telemetry devices in several projects. The data aggregation activity has been supported by the BALSAM project (2013-2015; co-financed by the European Union DG Environment). The maps are based on data with two locations per day (closest to midnight and midday) for up to several months per individual. 

See below density grids (number of locations per 5 x 5 km grid cell) of seals by species based on satellite telemetry. Note that the maps do not show the distribution of the whole population and can be used only as an informative overview of areas used by the few tagged individuals.


Ship_icon.png Maritime

Risk assessment tool

​It comprises a database on observations of alien species and physical features in ports, a list of target alien species, a list of all marine and alien species observed in port surveys in the region and an agreed risk assessment model.

This will allow administrations and ship owners to quickly identify routes that may qualify for exemptions to the application of ballast water management for ships (regulation B-3) and those that are unlikely to.

 The online tool is jointly administered by the HELCOM and OSPAR Secretariats. It has been developed with funding through the HELCOM Aliens 2, ALIENS 3 and BALSAM projects by HELCOM Secretariat and Germany (BSH/Brockmann consult). The further development of the tool will be supported by the joint task group of the two commissions on Ballast Water Management, which will follow up on the implementation of the “Harmonised Procedure” in general.

SeaTrack web

​Official HELCOM oil drift forecasting system developed and administrated by SMHI (Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute), DCOO (Defence Center for Operational Oceanography, Denmark) and BSH (Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency, Germany).