Traffic and navigation
Shipping intensifying in the Baltic
The Baltic Sea is one of the busiest seas in the world and both the number of ships and the quantities of cargo afloat on the Baltic are growing rapidly. According to the HELCOM Automatic Identification System (AIS) for monitoring maritime traffic, there are about 2,000 ships in the Baltic marine area at any given moment, and each month around 3,500-5,000 ships ply the waters of the Baltic Sea.
The whole Baltic Sea area has been covered by land-based AIS stations since 1 July 2005 making the Baltic Sea the first region in the world capable of real-time monitoring of ships traffic and elaboration of reliable statistics for further use for maritime and response purposes.
An overview of the ships' traffic in the Baltic Sea has been prepared based on the HELCOM AIS data.
Charting a difficult course
Navigation in the Baltic Sea can be tricky, with its narrow straits, winding passages, shallow depths, archipelagos and busy waters where shipping lanes cross, and many fishing vessels also operate. Many of the Baltic's northern waters freeze up each winter. A number of shipping accidents occur every year in the Baltic, fortunately only a few of these incidents have so far resulted in serious pollution.
HELCOM helping navigation
To ensure the safety of navigation, various measures have been adopted at the global level by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), at the regional level by HELCOM, and at the national level by the Baltic Sea States.
In September 2001 the Environment and Transport Ministers from nine Baltic countries and an EU representative adopted a new package of measures to improve the safety of navigation in the Baltic Sea - the HELCOM Copenhagen Declaration. The Declaration has already been implemented to a great extend.
New routes have been mapped out: the deep-water route northeast of Gedser in the Kadetrenden has been extended in January 2002.
Amendments to existing shipping traffic separation schemes have been made and new deep-water routes have been designated in the Gulf of Finland and off Gotland.
The increased use of pilots promotes safe navigation in the high-risk areas at "Route T" in the Sound.
Hydrographic surveys of the main shipping routes are regularly carried out to avoid groundings by providing ships with most actual updated information on water depths.
The use of the state-of-the-art ECDIS (Electronic Charts Display and Information System) navigational tool has been made mandatory by IMO for certain type of ships according to specific timetable. Electronic navigational charts (ENC) have been accepted as an equivalent to paper charts and are now covering all major shipping routes.
The Baltic Sea States are strengthening the compliance with maritime safety regulations:
by providing electronic guidance and information for safe navigation
by extending Port State Control
by establishing common procedures for investigations into accidents to promote safety and environmentally conscious practices.
Safer navigation through icy waters
The unified rules for ice classifiction of ships were established and arrangements for icebreaker services during the winter period were undertaken as a result of the work of the ad hoc Expert Working Group "Ice" in March 2003, eventually leading to the adoption in 2005 of the HELCOM Recommendation 25/7 "Safety of winter navigation in the Baltic Sea area". Complimentory measures to increase safety of winter navigation in the Baltic were adopted in 2007 in HELCOM Recommendation 28E/11 "Further measures to improve the safety of navigation in ice conditions in the Baltic Sea".
HELCOM co-operates with the Baltic Icebreaking Management (BIM) organization on implementation of recommendations.
HELCOM Transit Guide for the Baltic Sea - single sourse of navigational information
The HELCOM Transit Guide for the Baltic Sea supplements the nautical chart portfolio for the Baltic Sea. It includes information on ship routeing systems, including numerous traffic separation schemes and deep water routes, ship reporting systems, pilotage, ice conditions, maritime assistance services and other special regulations.
The Guide was developed by the HELCOM Expert Working Group on Transit Routeing and has been designed and printed by the German Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH). The 3rd edition of the chart was released in April 2008.
To order your copy of the Guide, please visit the BSH web site (link http://www.bsh.de/de/Produkte/Karten/Routeing-Guide/index.jsp )
Following the provisions of the HELCOM Copenhagen Declaration requiring establishment of on-line access to systematic and updated guidance and information related to the safety of navigation in the Baltic Sea area, a web-based version of the Mariners’ Routeing Guide Baltic Sea has been launched. It includes the same kind of information and has the similar outline as the paper copy of the Guide. The web-based guide is maintained by the Danish Maritime Safety Administration.
Statistical Analysis of the Baltic Maritime Traffic (VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland).
Status of the hydrographic re-surveys in the Baltic Sea (Swedish Maritime Administration) and the Baltic Sea Harmonized Hydrographic Re-Survey Scheme (version 2.0, August 2008) by the Baltic Sea Hydrographic Commission.
For more details see the Information sheet.
Baltic Sea Icebreaking Report 2006-2007 (Baltic Icebreaking Management)
Last updated 22.9.2008