The Ministers of the Environment and High-Level Representatives of the nine Baltic coastal countries and the European Union, convened in a HELCOM Meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark today, have reached an agreement on a package of extensive actions and measures. This will open up new themes to be addressed in the protection of the Baltic Sea. After a year of negotiations, the new HELCOM Ministerial outcome expresses the ambition of the Baltic Sea region to become a model for good management of human activities and to steer regional actions for reaching a healthier marine environment for the Baltic Sea.

 

Today the Ministerial Meeting has adopted an overarching scheme for combatting eutrophication in the Baltic Sea. Within the scheme, each country commits to fulfil particular targets for reducing nutrient pollution, through measures addressing discharges and emissions from land and via air. The updated targets represent the best available knowledge and give guidance to sharing responsibility for reducing nutrient inputs originating from both HELCOM and non-HELCOM countries, as well as from shipping and sources outside the region.

 

Agriculture was singled out as a crucial sector for the success of reaching good environmental status of the Baltic. Regarding sustainable agricultural production, the Meeting agreed, among others, on measures that include annual nutrient accounting at farm level and environmentally sound utilization of manure nutrients to be achieved by the specific deadlines.

 

The future designation of the Baltic Sea as a Nitrogen Oxide Emission Control Area (NECA) under the MARPOL Convention of the International Maritime Organisation emerged as the main topic for negotiations among the Ministers. After lengthy negotiations the Meeting concluded by recalling the earlier commitment regarding the designation, and specified that it would lead to a reduction of nearly 7000 tons of nitrogen to the sea every year. The outcome further stresses that the achievement of the Baltic Sea unaffected by eutrophication relies on additional reduction efforts by shipping sector.

 

The regional cooperation on preparedness and response to pollution especially on shoreline will now improve thanks to the adoption of an amendment to the Helsinki Convention providing the legal basis for HELCOM work. Furthermore, the new HELCOM Recommendation on airborne surveillance of illegal spills from ships enables more flexible border crossings of the patrol aircrafts, for more efficient gathering of evidence on environmental offenses.  

 

The new Declaration also contains actions on Baltic marine protected areas. Some of them target fisheries practices with negative impacts in protected areas and others overall upgrading of the network of the areas. Furthermore, conservation plans for species, habitats and biotopes which are at risk of extinction will be developed.

 

New ways of biodiversity protection include a regional action plan for marine litter, to be developed within two years, as well as actions on negative impacts of underwater noise.


 

The Contracting Parties agreed that the implementation of all commitments in the declaration will be continuously reviewed by the Ministers. To support the continuous assessment of the state of the sea, the Meeting agreed on a new Monitoring and Assessment Strategy.

 

Since the adoption of the Baltic Sea Action Plan in 2007, this is the second Ministerial Meeting, following the Ministerial Meeting in Moscow in 2010, to assess the effectiveness of the Action Plan and subsequent progress towards good environmental status of the Baltic Sea.

 

Out of all the measures and actions agreed in the Baltic Sea Action Plan as well as following up the 2010 Ministerial Declaration, about one third of agreed actions have been accomplished. Six out of ten measures have been partly accomplished or are still on-going with varying degree of implementation in different countries, and the remaining ten per cent are still to be initiated.

 

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Reduction targets

Changes in the country-wise nutrient reduction targets for nitrogen and phosphorus per country:

 


 

 

Phosphorus (tonnes)Nitrogen (tonnes)
 2007201320072013
Denmark163817,2102,890
Estonia2203209001,800
Finland150330+26*1,2002,430+600*
Germany240110+60*5,6207,170+500*
Latvia3002202,5601,670
Lithuania8801,47011,7508,970
Poland8,7607,48062,40043,610
Russia2,5003,7906,97010,380
Sweden29053020,7809,240

2007 – as in HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan

2013 – as adopted by the HELCOM Ministerial Meeting on 3 October 2013

* = figures after '+' refer to loads originating from the country but being discharged to the Sea via another country; additional specific footnotes to the above table can be found in the text of the Ministerial Declaration

 

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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. HELCOM has worked since 1974 to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution and to ensure safety of navigation in the region. HELCOM is the governing body of the "Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area," more usually known as the Helsinki Convention.

 

Associated documents for the Ministerial Meeting at: http://helcom.fi/Ministerial2013/associated-documents/


 

Ministerial declaration (pdf)


 

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For further information, please contact:

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