Regional action on marine litter in the Baltic Sea took major leaps forward in a regional workshop which finished yesterday in Stralsund, Germany. All the HELCOM members, including the nine coastal countries as well as the EU, have agreed to develop a regional action plan for marine litter by 2015. The second working session has now produced a more defined draft action plan, soon ready for national consultation rounds before finalization and expected adoption in March 2015.

WWF Poland-Oskar Skumial.jpg 

Photo: WWF Poland/Oskar Skumial

Importantly, participants from other Regional Seas Conventions – Black Sea, Mediterranean and the North-East Atlantic – shared experiences with HELCOM experts in developing and implementing a regional action plan for marine litter. The informal meeting discussed interregional challenges as well as ways for synergies in implementation of action plans on litter, providing a strong basis for developing measures across the regions.


The commitment for the regional action plan for marine litter was sealed in the 2013 HELCOM Ministerial Declaration, with the aim of achieving a significant quantitative reduction of marine litter by 2025, compared to 2015. The plan ought to enable inter alia concrete measures for the prevention and reduction of marine litter from its main sources, develop common indicators and associated targets related to quantities, composition, sources and pathways of marine litter and to identify the socio-economic and biological impacts of marine litter.


Marine litter is a rapidly growing concern at sea and shores alike, having a large impact on the environment. Marine litter is not only an aesthetic problem but incurs socioeconomic costs, threatens human health and safety and has impacts on marine organisms. 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 2-2014). 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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