Nutrient Reduction Scheme Review Speeding Up in Baltic Coastal Countries
14 June 2012, Trelleborg, Sweden – All the Baltic Sea countries as well as the EU gather today for a two-day Heads of Delegation meeting of the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM), to discuss immediate measures to protect the Baltic Sea and to plan for the Ministerial Meeting of 2013. Latest developments in the complex field of Baltic marine environment protection are reviewed last time under the Chairmanship of Sweden, which is completing its two-year term in the end of June.
The Meeting will consider the progress in the review of the Baltic Sea Action Plan nutrient load reduction scheme, which has started with the strengthening of the scientific basis of the eutrophication status targets. The review process will precipitate as the Ministerial Meeting of HELCOM approaches, to take place under the Chairmanship of Denmark in autumn 2013.
A new group of HELCOM, HELCOM GEAR, has prepared a roadmap for even stronger regional coordination for the implementation of the ecosystem approach. This document, aiming for a more coherent management of human activities in the Baltic Sea and better coordination with the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive, is expected to be endorsed by the Meeting.
Further, the Meeting will consider a recent development in producing a threat assessment of the species and habitats of the Baltic Sea. A proposal to classify the cod as a vulnerable species will be reviewed, as this has been proposed by scientists working on the basis of criteria of the International Union for the Conservation Nature (IUCN).
The interest has been high in the process of designating the Baltic Sea as a Nitrogen-Oxides (NOx) Emission Control Area (NECA) on ship emissions. The full documentation is now ready for submission to the International Maritime Organization, which will be discussed in the HELCOM Meeting today. Under NECA status, the Baltic Sea will see substantial reductions in the ship emissions of NOx which, in turn, will reduce nitrogen load and have positive effects on marine environment as well as on human health along the coastal areas. Nitrogen and phosphorus are the two key nutrients causing eutrophication.
One of the highlights in the Meeting agenda are the fifteen hot spots expected to be removed from the HELCOM Hot Spot List. With this deletion from the regional list of most polluting sites, the remaining number of active hot spots will be 55, which is less than one third of original number of major pollution sites in the Baltic Sea Area from 1992. The ones discussed in the Trelleborg meeting include eight municipal or industrial hot spots, six agricultural runoff sites and one coastal management programme site, and they are located in Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden and Russia The efficiency of the Baltic Joint Comprehensive Programme (JCP), with hot spots as one of its core elements, is expected to be evaluated by the end of 2012.
In addition, the Meeting addresses a new joint cooperation project – the BASE – on which HELCOM and EU have signed a contract. BASE builds on the experience and results of the BALTHAZAR Project which focused on pollution from nutrient loads and hazardous substances, and capacity building on environmental monitoring in Russia. The EU-funded BASE project will go further by addressing also in addition biodiversity and nature protection, as well as monitoring activities to support and measure the implementation progress within three BSAP priority areas of the HELCOM BSAP.
Overall, the Heads of Delegation and Observers discuss close to a record amount of topics in the Meeting agenda, varying from different pollution load measuring processes to Baltic marine nature protection and fisheries management, agriculture and shipping, among others.
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Note to Editors:
The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM), is an intergovernmental organisation 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.
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, please contact:
Ms. Monika Stankiewicz
Tel: +358 (0)40 840 2471
Fax: +358 (0)207 412 645
Ms. Johanna Laurila
Tel: +358 (0)40 523 8988
Fax: +358 (0)207 412 645