HELCOM presents the Baltic Sea environmental Indicator Fact Sheets for 2004
Continued eutrophication and still persistent pollutants in biota are revealed as the main concerns in the new and updated HELCOM environmental indicators launched by the Helsinki Commission Monitoring and Assessment Group. The regional extent of eutrophication is clear from concentrations of nutrients in winter and the subsequent intensity of spring phytoplankton blooms. Toxic blooms of blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) continue to be extensive in the Baltic Sea.
As a result of efforts to reduce pollution, the annual deposition of heavy metals via air onto the Baltic Sea has halved since 1990.The concentrations of heavy metals and organic pollutants in sea water are, however, several times higher in the Baltic Sea compared to waters of the North Atlantic. Concentrations of contaminants in fish vary according to substance, species and location, but in general, the concentrations of lead and PCBs have decreased markedly. Still the content of dioxins in fish muscle may exceed the authorized limits set by the European Commission.
The amount of Chernobyl derived Caesium-137 in the Baltic Sea remains largely unchanged, with highest concentrations in the sediments of the Bothnian Sea and the Gulf of Finland.
Even though an increase in maritime transportation during the past decade has increased the potential for illegal oil discharges, the number of observed illegal oil discharges has gradually been decreasing every year. Still, almost 300 illegal spills were detected in 2003.
HELCOM indicators provide information that is considered to be crucial for mitigating environmental problems. They try to simplify complex reality and are mainly based on data obtained by HELCOM Pollution Load Compilation (PLC) and COMBINE monitoring programmes. The indicators are presented in HELCOM Indicator Fact Sheets which are compiled by responsible institutions and approved by the HELCOM Monitoring and Assessment Group.
The Indicator Fact Sheets for the year 2004 can be found on INTERNET on the HELCOM website at: http://helcom.navigo.fi/environment/indicators2004/en_GB/indicators2004/
Mr Juha-Markku Leppänen
Tel: +358 9 62202227
Fax: +358 9 6220 2239
Mr Nikolay Vlasov
Tel: +358 9 6220 2235
Fax: +358 9 6220 2239