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Key message

A significant reduction of nutrients input has been achieved for the whole Baltic Sea. This assessment shows that the normalized input of nitrogen was reduced by 12% and phosphorus by 25% between the reference period (1997-2003) and 2015 (Results figure 1). The maximum allowable input (MAI) of nitrogen in this period was fulfilled in the Kattegat, Danish Straits, Bothnian Bay and Bothnian Sea (Key message figures 1 and Results tables 1a and 1b). Nitrogen input into the Gulf of Riga is below MAI but cannot be considered as fulfilled due to statistical uncertainty. MAI for phosphorus input is fulfilled in the Kattegat, Danish Straits and Bothnian Sea. The inputs to the Gulf of Finland and Bothnian Bay are below MAI but cannot be considered as fulfilled due to statistical uncertainty.

 

Key message figure 1a.pngKey message figure 1b.png

Key message figure 1. Total input of nitrogen and phosphorus to each sub-basin and the whole Baltic Sea (BAS). Trend-based estimate of total nitrogen and phosphorus inputs in 2015 (tons per year) including statistical uncertainty are compared with the maximum allowable nutrient inputs (MAI t/y, shown as a blue line). Green colour indicates that inputs during 2015 were lower than MAI, red colour when they were higher, while yellow indicates that when taking into account the statistical uncertainty of input data it is not possible to determine whether MAI was fulfilled. Note: the scales on the y-axes differ in the charts.


Relevance of the core indicator

The input of nutrients is an indicator of eutrophication pressure on the marine ecosystem. In the Baltic Sea, the pressure is mainly driven by anthropogenic inputs of nitrogen and phosphorus to the sea.

The HELCOM nutrient reduction scheme defines maximum allowable inputs of nitrogen and phosphorous to Baltic Sea sub-basins, and inputs should not exceed these environmental targets in order to eventually obtain good status in terms of eutrophication. This core indicator presents progress in the different Baltic Sea sub-basins towards reaching the MAI.

 

Policy relevance of the core indicator

 BSAP segment and objectivesMSFD Descriptor and criteria
Primary link
  • Eutrophication segment: nutrient reduction scheme.
  • Has an influence on reaching objective Concentrations of nutrients close to natural levels.

Descriptor 5: Human-induced eutrophication is minimized, especially adverse effects thereof, such as losses in biodiversity, ecosystem degradation, harmful algae blooms and oxygen deficiency in bottom waters.

D5C1 Nutrient concentrations are not at levels that indicate adverse eutrophication effects.

Secondary link
  • Maritime segment: Minimum air pollution from ships and minimum sewage pollution from ships.
  • (Nutrient levels also affect biodiversity ecological objectives).

Descriptor 1: Pelagic habitats

D1C6 The condition of the habitat type, including its biotic and abiotic structure and its functions (e.g. its typical species composition and their relative abundance, absence of particularly sensitive or fragile species or species providing key function, size structure of species), is not adversely affected due to anthropogenic pressures.

Descriptor 6: Benthic habitats

D6C5 The extent of adverse effects from anthropogenic pressures on the condition of the habitat type, including alteration to its abiotic and biotic functions (e.g. its typical species composition and their relative abundance, absence of particularly sensitive or fragile species or species providing key function, size structure of species), does not exceed a specified proportion of the natural extent of the habitat type in the assessment area.

Other relevant legislation: EU Nitrates Directive; EU Urban Waste-Water Treatment Directive; Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), Water Framework Directive, WFD; the Gothenburg Protocol to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-level Ozone under UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air pollution (CLRTAP); ); EU NEC Directive (2016/2284/EU); Water Code of Russian Federation; Federal Act on the internal maritime waters, territorial sea and contiguous zone of the Russian Federation; IMO designated the Baltic Sea as a "special area" for passenger ships under MARPOL (International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Annex IV (on sewage from ships); EC Directive 2000/59/EC on port reception facilities; NOx emission control area (NECA) in the Baltic and North seas designated by IMO.

 

Cite this indicator

HELCOM (2018) Inputs of nutrients to the subbasins. HELCOM core indicator report. Online. [Date Viewed], [Web link].

ISSN 2343-2543

 

Download full indicator report

Inputs of nutrients to the subbasins HELCOM core indicator 2018 (pdf)