Master blueprint ready for future regional actions for a healthier Baltic Sea
The Ministers of the Environment and High-Level Representatives of the nine Baltic coastal countries and the European Union, convened in a HELCOM Meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark today, have reached an agreement on a package of extensive actions and measures. This will open up new themes to be addressed in the protection of the Baltic Sea. After a year of negotiations, the new HELCOM Ministerial outcome expresses the ambition of the Baltic Sea region to become a model for good management of human activities and to steer regional actions for reaching a healthier marine environment for the Baltic Sea.
Today the Ministerial Meeting has adopted an overarching scheme for combatting eutrophication in the Baltic Sea. Within the scheme, each country commits to fulfil particular targets for reducing nutrient pollution, through measures addressing discharges and emissions from land and via air. The updated targets represent the best available knowledge and give guidance to sharing responsibility for reducing nutrient inputs originating from both HELCOM and non-HELCOM countries, as well as from shipping and sources outside the region.
Agriculture was singled out as a crucial sector for the success of reaching good environmental status of the Baltic. Regarding sustainable agricultural production, the Meeting agreed, among others, on measures that include annual nutrient accounting at farm level and environmentally sound utilization of manure nutrients to be achieved by the specific deadlines.
The future designation of the Baltic Sea as a Nitrogen Oxide Emission Control Area (NECA) under the MARPOL Convention of the International Maritime Organisation emerged as the main topic for negotiations among the Ministers. After lengthy negotiations the Meeting concluded by recalling the earlier commitment regarding the designation, and specified that it would lead to a reduction of nearly 7000 tons of nitrogen to the sea every year. The outcome further stresses that the achievement of the Baltic Sea unaffected by eutrophication relies on additional reduction efforts by shipping sector.
Since the adoption of the Baltic Sea Action Plan in 2007, this is the second Ministerial Meeting, following the Ministerial Meeting in Moscow in 2010, to assess the effectiveness of the Action Plan and subsequent progress towards good environmental status of the Baltic Sea.
Out of all the measures and actions agreed in the Baltic Sea Action Plan as well as following up the 2010 Ministerial Declaration, about one third of agreed actions have been accomplished. Six out of ten measures have been partly accomplished or are still on-going with varying degree of implementation in different countries, and the remaining ten per cent are still to be initiated.