The HELCOM Maritime Working Group has been awarded the Baltic Sea Fund Prize 2017 for its work to reduce pollution from maritime traffic in the Baltic Sea. According to the Baltic Sea Fund the HELCOM Working Group has through persistent long-term work successfully acted as a catalyst to bring about international agreements for the benefit of the Baltic Sea environment.

The Baltic Sea Fund (Östersjöfonden) based in Mariehamn, Åland, has awarded the Baltic Sea Fund Prize to individuals and organizations for significant and outstanding contribution to the Baltic Sea environment since 1990.

The HELCOM Maritime Working Group established in 1975 is an advisory body of the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM) which consists of representatives of coastal countries, EU as well as observer organisations (industry and environmental NGOs).

The latest achievements of the Group, highlighted by the award, include the ban of sewage discharges to international waters of the Baltic Sea and the designation of the Baltic Sea as a special area for nitrogen oxide emissions from ships exhaust gases (NECA). Both these major developments were decided by International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in 2016 based on proposals developed within the Group.

In full the Baltic Sea Fund delegation justifies the Baltic Sea Fund Prize 2017 award as follows:
“HELCOM Maritime Working Group is rewarded with 20,000 euros for its work to reduce emissions from shipping in the Baltic Sea.

The prohibition to release sewage from ships in international waters and the implementation of the Baltic Sea as a special area in the emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx Emission Control Area, NECA) to reduce the nitrogen load to the Baltic Sea noticeably, belong to the group's success in recent years.

HELCOM Maritime Working Group has worked as a driver and developed the basis for decisions made in the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
As shipping is international in its character, international cooperation is required to bring about regulation.

HELCOM Maritime Working Group has, through long-term and persistent work successfully acted as a catalyst to bring about international agreements for the benefit of the Baltic Sea environment.”

HELCOM press release on the establishment of Baltic Sea NECA (28.10.2016)

HELCOM press release on the establishment of Baltic Sea special area for sewage from passenger ships (22.4.2016)

More information on the Baltic Sea Fund Prize 2017 can be found on the webpage of the Baltic Sea Fund. 

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Note for editors

HELCOM is an intergovernmental organization made up of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union. Founded in 1974, its primary aims as a governing body are to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution, as well as to ensure safe maritime navigation. The official name of HELCOM is the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission; it is the governing body of the Helsinki Convention.

HELCOM Maritime Working Group of HELCOM identifies and promotes actions to limit sea-based pollution and finds ways for safer navigation. Established in 1975, the group also deals with the harmonized implementation and enforcement of international shipping regulations.

The Maritime group has a number of advisory expert bodies including the HELCOM-OSPAR Task Group on Ballast Water Management (regional dimensions of implementing the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention), Expert group on safety of navigation, Working group for mutual exchange and deliveries of Automatic Identification System (AIS) data, Green technology and Alternative Fuels Platform for Shipping, and HELCOM Cooperation Platform on Port Reception Facilities (PRF).

The Åland Foundation for the Future of the Baltic Sea, also known as The Baltic Sea Fund, was founded in 1989 through a private donation of half a million euro. The initiator and donator was Councillor of Commerce Anders Wiklöf. See www.ostersjofonden.org > In English

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For more information, please contact:

Anna Petersson
Chair of HELCOM Maritime group
Head of Environment Section
Swedish Transport Agency
Tel: +46 10 4953 249
E-mail: anna.petersson(at)transportstyrelsen.se

Hermanni Backer
Professional Secretary for Maritime, Response and Fish groups
HELCOM
Tel:  +358 46 8509199
E-mail: hermanni.backer(at)helcom.fi​