Celebrating 20 Years of Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Work of HELCOM
22 May 2012 (HELCOM Information Service) – The HELCOM Nature Protection and Biodiversity Group (HELCOM HABITAT) will convene its 14th regular meeting on 22-25 May in Stralsund, Germany, to discuss new and ongoing projects and programmes to halt the decline in biodiversity and to protect the endangered species and biotopes in the Baltic marine area.
“The topmost issue on the Agenda is the updating of the list of threatened species and of the list of threatened or declining biotopes in the Baltic Sea,” says Monika Stankiewicz, HELCOM’s Executive Secretary. “Experts from the Baltic Sea countries will review the work carried out in the HELCOM RED LIST project which is producing a comprehensive Red List of Baltic Sea species, updating the information on the previous species red listing as well as updating the Red Lists of Baltic Sea biotopes,” says Stankiewicz.
The RED LIST project has proposed altogether six macrophytes, 25 fish or lamprey species and 22 breeding birds to be included in the Red list and is considering the five marine mammals and a number of benthic invertebrates for the red list. The project uses criteria developed and applied by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). As a basis of its work, the project compiled the Checklist of Baltic Sea Macro-species which has been published as a part of HELCOM’s Baltic Sea Environment Proceedings. Such comprehensive list covering all macroscopic species of the Baltic Sea has not been available before.
Experts are expected to discuss the further strengthening of the network of Baltic Sea Protected Areas. The coastal countries will provide information on their current and new marine protected areas. The network presently covers a sufficient area of marine space, exceeding international objectives (over 10% of the marine area covered), but still lacks ecological coherence to provide protection to the critical species and biotopes of the Baltic Sea. Management plans and measures ensuring that the areas efficiently provide conservation to the species and biotopes have not yet been developed for all protected areas and the meeting will receive an update by the HELCOM countries on the progress of developing these.
The Meeting will also consider the progress in cooperation between fisheries and environmental authorities in the Baltic Sea in the HELCOM Baltic Fisheries and Environmental Forum, which holds meetings twice a year. The HELCOM Coastal fish monitoring expert network (FISH-PRO) has finalized an indicator-based assessment of coastal fish communities in the Baltic Sea 2005-2009 that has recently been published in the HELCOM Baltic Sea Environment Proceedings and will be presented to the Group. The activities of the inception phase of the new Managing Fisheries in Baltic Marine Protected Areas (BALTFIMPA) will also be discussed.
A set of core indicators is under development to fulfill the task given by the HELCOM 2010 Ministerial Meeting to create an indicator-based follow-system for the implementation of the Baltic Sea. The meeting will review the work of and provide advice to the HELCOM CORESET project, which is developing core indicators for biodiversity. Proposed core indicators cover aspects of the Baltic Sea biodiversity, such as populations of species, communities and habitats, food webs and alien species.
In addition, the Meeting will consider the activities of the HELCOM Seal Expert Group and its working teams focusing on the size of seal populations, distribution of seals as well as seal health. The group will particularly consider how to move on in setting the target reference and limit reference levels as well as precautionary approach levels as agreed in the HELCOM Recommendation for seal conservation.
In addition, the Meeting will consider how targets set in global fora, such as the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, should be regionally applied in the Baltic Sea and will also discuss how HELCOM’s work has been highlighted in the global fora.
This Fourteenth meeting of the Nature Protection and Biodiversity Group of HELCOM will celebrate the 20-year anniversary of biodiversity and nature conservation work within HELCOM.
The Meeting will be conducted by the Chair of HELCOM HABITAT, Ms. Katarzyna Kaminska, Poland.
Note to Editors:
HELCOM HABITAT, which is one of the HELCOM Working Groups involving all the Baltic coastal states, works to conserve and protect biodiversity, species and habitats of the Baltic Sea. HABITAT promotes the sustainable use of living marine resources and aims to ensure that the environmental protection needs are duly considered in different activities that affect the marine environment, by using tools such as spatial planning and environmental impact assessments.
The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to 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 and to ensure safety of navigation.
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.
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