​High-level decisions expected for a healthier Baltic Sea marine environment

 

3 October 2013, Copenhagen, Denmark – New targets for nutrient input reductions for the Baltic Sea per each Baltic coastal state are expected to be adopted today by HELCOM Contracting Parties, consisting of all the nine Baltic coastal states and the European Union, in the 2013 HELCOM Ministerial Meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark.  The targets will be an important part of the new Ministerial outcome which will set the overall direction for regional actions for a healthier marine environment of the Baltic Sea. Other major decisions expected today concern environmentally friendly shipping and, in particular, a joint proposal to apply for the NOx Emission Control Area (NECA) status for the Baltic Sea, as well as agriculture and more specifically, nutrient balanced fertilisation practices. 

A key focus of the Meeting is on HELCOM work to reduce nutrient inputs which cause eutrophication in the Baltic Sea. The HELCOM nutrient input reduction scheme has been subject to extensive review in the past years, for ensuring a solid scientific basis and a fair sharing of the reduction burden. Finally today, the updated, jointly agreed figures on maximum allowable inputs and reduction targets for HELCOM countries are put forward for adoption.

The substantial potential to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from ships, if the Baltic Sea is designated with a special NECA status for the Baltic Sea, has led to preparing of a joint HELCOM application to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). The timing of submitting the application to IMO for such a designation will be another major issue for the ministers.

The intensive negotiations preceding today's high-level gathering have also addressed agricultural practices in the region, such as applying nutrient accounting at farm level by 2018. Positive examples in some HELCOM countries may pave the way to decisions on nutrient balanced fertilisation across the whole region and less nutrient losses. Targeted and cost-effective measures on manure handling are also a part of the draft Ministerial Declaration.

Other items waiting for ministers' decisions today include an amendment of the Helsinki Convention which more explicitly calls for international response to pollution accidents on shoreline. In contrast to the established framework on response cooperation at sea, which has been in place since the 1970s adoption of the Helsinki Convention, such shoreline response has so far largely been a national matter.
Furthermore, several decisions by the Ministerial Meeting would result in fewer pressures on biodiversity as well as improvements in the conservation measures for instance of species, habitats and biotopes.

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.

The 2013 Ministerial Meeting relies on the assessing of how far the region has come in the implementation of HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP, 2007–2021). This careful groundwork has also explored any positive trends and signs of decreasing pollution which could be observed as a result of the actions taken.  Out of all the measures and actions agreed in the Baltic Sea Action Plan, as well as following up the 2010 Moscow Ministerial Declaration, about one third of 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.

Please note that the outcome of the Ministerial meeting will be summarized today for the press starting at 11.45 (CET+1hrs). The Declaration will be available after the Meeting at: www.helcom.fi/Ministerial2013

Twitter: #HELCOM2013

 
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Note for editors:
HELCOM Ministerial Meeting 2013 starts at 9:00 on 3 October 2013 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The high-level representatives of Environmental Ministries from the nine Baltic coastal states and the EU Environment Commissioner gather to discuss the status and the future of the Baltic Sea marine environment. The Meeting reviews the progress in implementing the Baltic Sea Action Plan (2007–2021) and sets priorities for action. The Ministerial Declaration, signed at noon, revolves around the still unsatisfactory status of the Baltic Sea; the ecosystem approach as the basis for blue and green growth, the opportunities for more coherent policies and implementation, as well as committing to do more for a healthier Baltic Sea.

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 works 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.

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