HELCOM Task Force to detail actions for the new Baltic Sea strategy
Helsinki, 6 February (HELCOM Information Service) – The international ad hoc Task Force on the development of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan will convene its fourth meeting on 6-7 February in Helsinki to consider actions to be included in the draft outline of the new strategy to reduce pollution to the Baltic Sea and restore the healthy status of the marine environment.
The identification of concrete actions for the plan’s segment on combatting eutrophication is expected to top the agenda of the Meeting. Particularly, representatives of the coastal countries will look into cost-effective solutions to reduce inputs of nitrogen and phosphorus to the sea. In order to quantify the reductions in nutrient inputs that will be needed to achieve the good ecological status of the sea, HELCOM is using the MARE NEST model. This system demonstrates what could be a cost-effective distribution of measures needed in order to achieve the desired environmental quality in the Baltic Sea.
It is expected that the Meeting of the Task Force will consider additional measures for phosphorus reduction in agriculture. HELCOM’s assessments clearly show that excessive phosphorus and nitrogen loads coming from agriculture are the main cause of the eutrophication of the Baltic. It will also look into proposals on more stringent requirements for phosphorus removal from municipal waste water treatment plants, as well as more stringent reduction of pollution from ships.
This is going to be the last Task Force meeting before the 2nd Stakeholder Conference on the development of the Baltic Sea Action Plan to be held on 6 March in Helsinki, where HELCOM will unveil the first draft of the new environmental strategy. The purpose of this Conference is to discuss with all relevant stakeholders the content of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan and in particular the proposed actions for the four top priority areas: eutrophication, pollution involving hazardous substances, maritime safety and accident response capacity, and habitat destruction and the decline in biodiversity.
The 2nd Stakeholder Conference will pave the way for the final stage in the development of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan. After a series of meetings to finalise the plan, the new environmental strategy will be adopted at the HELCOM Ministerial Meeting scheduled to take place on 15 November 2007 in Krakow, Poland.
Note to Editors:
The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, more usually known as the Helsinki Commission, or HELCOM, is an intergovernmental organisation of all the nine Baltic Sea countries and the EU which works to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution.
HELCOM is the governing body of the "Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area," known as the Helsinki Convention.
In 2005, the Helsinki Commission resolved to create a Baltic Sea Action Plan, which would set out a new strategy to reduce pollution and reverse the marine environment degradation.
This ambitious plan of actions, which has already been widely heralded as a pilot project for the European seas under the EU Marine Strategy, will provide a unique opportunity to take wide-ranging and purposeful actions to achieve the ultimate target of having a healthy marine environment with balanced eco-systems for the benefit of present and future generations.
The consultation process on the development of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan was officially launched at the kick-off Stakeholder Conference held on 7 March 2006 in Helsinki, Finland. In March 2006, the annual HELCOM meeting approved the first core elements of the action plan - a common vision of a healthy Baltic Sea and a set of strategic goals and ecological objectives for achieving a commonly acceptable good status of the marine environment.
Following the final Stakeholder Conference in March 2007 and a series of meetings, the finalised environmental strategy will be adopted at a HELCOM Ministerial Meeting, which will take place on 14-15 November 2007 in Krakow, Poland.
For more information, please contact:
Mr. Nikolay Vlasov
Tel: +358 (0)207 412 635
Fax: +358 (0)207 412 639