​Today, Contracting Parties of the Helsinki Convention meet aiming at finalizing the draft regional action plan on marine litter to be subsequently submitted to the next annual Commission meeting for adoption in March. The online meeting will focus on the remaining open issues of the draft plan, which aims to also become canonized as a HELCOM Recommendation.

Credit_Jenny Gustafsson_Keep the Archipelago Tidy_HANKO 030514.jpg Consumer behaviour is considered as the most important reason for marine litter in the Baltic Sea. Photo: Jenny Gustafsson/Keep the Archipelago Tidy Finland.

Marine litter is a growing concern at sea and shores alike and a priority for the Estonian Chairmanship of HELCOM. The concrete work for a regional action plan started in May 2014, following the Ministerial commitment binding all the Baltic coastal governments. The drafting process has benefited from expertise from non-governmental organizations, research institutions, industry, as well as concerned administration and authorities. The wide consultations have been important for the successively improved test plans, including the proposed actions to reduce marine litter in the Baltic Sea.


The plan will integrate actions at regional and national level, covering different pathways for marine litter. The list includes waste management; sewage and storm water management; maintaining beaches and urban areas; fisheries; and shipping. Special measures are addressed to the top-10 items found in the Baltic Sea marine environment as well micro-plastics. The document also pays attention to environmental education and involving the producers in the action to reduce marine litter.


Marine litter has a large impact on the environment. While an evident aesthetic problem, litter impairs marine organisms, threatens human health and safety, and increases socio-economic costs. Consumer behaviour is considered as the most important reason for marine litter in the Baltic Sea: 48 % of marine litter in the Baltic Sea is estimated to originate from household‐related waste, including sanitary waste, while waste generated by recreational or tourism activities would add up to 33 %.

Meeting site (MARINE LITTER 3-2015). All documents will be public after the meeting.


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Note for editors

The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as HELCOM, is an intergovernmental organization of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union working to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution and to ensure safety of navigation in the region. Since 1974, HELCOM has been the governing body of the 'Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area', more commonly known as the Helsinki Convention.


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For more information, please contact:

Marta Ruiz
Project Coordinator
Tel: +358 40 6472424
Skype: helcom59
E-mail: marta.ruiz(at)helcom.fi

Johanna Laurila
Information Secretary
Tel: +358 40 523 8988
Skype: helcom70
E-mail: johanna.laurila(at)helcom.fi