Oceanographic Information 4 2 Coastal Geography and Geology 5

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Baltic Sea Region


1 About 3

1.1 Overview 3

1.2 Key Dates 3

1.3 Geographic and General Information 4

1.3.1 Oceanographic Information 4

1.3.2 Coastal Geography and Geology 5

1.3.3 Ecosystem Diversity 5

1.3.4 Species Diversity 9

1.3.5 Information on Participating States 11

1.4 Organization 15

1.4.1 Institutional Structure 15

1.4.2 Ministerial Meetings 15

1.4.3 Coordinating Unit 16

1.4.4 Task Force Groups 17

1.4.5 National Focal Points 19

1.5 Financial Arrangements 19

1.5.1 Trust Fund 19

1.5.2 Other Funding 19

1.6 Wider Cooperation 19

1.6.1 Agreements and Other Legal Instruments 19

1.6.2 Partners and Other Organizations 20

2 Our Work 22

2.1 Programme Strategy 22

2.2 Action Plan 22

2.3 Convention 23

2.3.1 Annexes 23

2.4 Issues and Threats 24

2.4.1 Habitat and Species Loss 24

2.4.2 Land Based Sources of Pollution 24

2.4.3 Sea Based Pollution 25

2.4.4 Exploitation of Resources 25

2.4.5 Alien Species 26

2.5 Current Activities 26

2.5.1 Eutrophication and Hazardous Substances 26

2.5.2 Biotopes and Habitats 27

2.5.3 Navigational Safety and Oil Spills 27

2.5.4 Management of the Coastal Marine Environment 28

2.5.5 Environmental Monitoring and Reporting 28

3 Publications 29

3.1 Regional Seas Reports and Studies 30

3.2 Meeting Reports 30

3.3 Website Links 30

3.4 Newsletter 31

4 Calendar of Events 31

5 Professionals 32

6 Advertisements 32

7 References 32



The Baltic is a young sea and one of the world’s most extraordinary for the beauty and variety of its marine environment and surrounding landscapes. The Baltic Sea is home to many species of plants, animals and micro-organisms in a great variety of different habitats. Most of these are at risk from human activity, and many Baltic fish populations are now dangerously low. Among the main threats the region faces are: eutrophication; pollution by hazardous substances including pesticides; heavy metals and industrial wastes; habitat destruction; the use of harmful fishing equipment; and the introduction of alien invasive species.

In 1974 the Baltic Sea States signed the Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area, also known as the Helsinki Convention. This was a pioneering agreement on many fronts. It was the first regional agreement ever to cover all sources of pollution, whether from land, sea or air. In its first two decades, the Convention oversaw considerable progress with significant reductions in discharges of organochlorine compounds from industry and of lead emissions from land-transport, and rehabilitation of some formerly endangered living species. The Helsinki Convention has since been replaced by the new Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area, signed in 1992. In the same year the Baltic Sea Joint Comprehensive Environmental Action Programme (JCP) was established. HELCOM is the coordinating body for the Helsinki Convention and the Action Plan.
One important action under the JCP is the identification and cleaning up of serious pollution areas, “Hot Spots”. Since 1992 about 50 of the 132 Hot Spots identified around the Baltic Sea have been cleaned up. Nevertheless, concentrations of PCBs and DDT still remain high. HELCOM put together a Hazardous Substances Project team to work to reduce discharges, emissions and losses of hazardous substances in the Baltic Sea drainage basin and selected 42 hazardous substances for immediate priority action. Following this, in 2004 an updated strategy on Hazardous substances was adopted. The Baltic region is also under threat from maritime pollution incidents. In 2001 the HELCOM Copenhagen Declaration was signed to ensure the safety of navigation and a swift national and trans-national response to maritime pollution incidents. In 2003 a HELCOM Ministerial Meeting decided that all HELCOM actions must be based on an “ecosystem approach” to the management of human activities. In order to facilitate this development Ecological Quality Objectives that express "good quality status" are being developed.
For the foreseeable future, the focus of HELCOM's work will be to limit discharges of nutrients and hazardous substances from land-based activities, prevent pollution by shipping, ensure response to accidents at sea, conserve natural habitats and biological diversity, and bring about the long-term restoration of the ecological balance of the Baltic Sea in keeping with the overall goal of the Helsinki Convention to bring about sustainable development and use of natural resources in the Baltic Sea Area.

1.2Key Dates


The Baltic Sea States signed the Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area, 22 March 1974 (Helsinki Convention)


Ninth Meeting Declaration on the Protection of the Environment of the Baltic Sea (15 February 1988)


Baltic Sea Declaration - Ronneby Declaration (3 September 1990)


A new Helsinki Convention was signed.

The Baltic Sea Joint Comprehensive Environmental Action Programme (JCP) was established.

Baltic Sea Environmental Declaration (9 April 1992)


Declaration on Resource Mobilisation for the Baltic Sea Joint Comprehensive Environment Action Programme - Gdansk Declaration (24-25 March 1993)


15th Meeting of the Helsinki Commission (11 March 1994)


Communiqué of the Ministerial Session on 26 March 1998


The new Helsinki Convention entered into force on 17 January 2000


Declaration on the Safety of Navigation and Emergency Capacity in the Baltic Sea Area -HELCOM Copenhagen Declaration (10 September 2001)


HELCOM Ministerial meeting June 2003 in Bremen, Germany

HELCOM Bremen Declaration


Jubilee session “30th anniversary of HELCOM” (HELCOM Ministerial Meeting, 4 March 2004)

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