HELCOM meeting in Brussels paves the way for a healthier Baltic Sea by 2021

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27 Mar

The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (HELCOM) met on the 6th of March 2018 in Brussels to take stock of the progress achieved and to reiterate its commitments aimed at restoring the good environmental status of the Baltic Sea by 2021.

HELCOM is the forty-year-old governing body of the Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area, known as the Helsinki Convention bringing together ten contracting parties: the EU, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, Russia, Poland, Sweden, and Finland. 

The main objective of HELCOM is to protect the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution through intergovernmental cooperation, with annual Commission meetings and the Heads of Delegation meeting at least twice a year. In essence, HELCOM is a policy maker for the Baltic Sea area with an environmental focal point providing information about the state of and trends in the marine environment. Furthermore, it acts as a body for developing, supervising, and coordinating environmental operations and policies in the Baltic Sea. 

During the March meeting, the responsible Ministers from the members of HELCOM, along with EU Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, agreed to take new actions to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals in the Baltic Sea, under a new Ministerial Declaration. After discussion on the progress that have been made towards the current 2021 objectives, the parties decided to strengthen the implementation of the Baltic Sea Action Plan and to put a special focus on many critical areas including overfishing, nutrients recycling, contamination, underwater noise, invasive alien species and conservation of the seabed. In order to tackle overfishing, the parties have agreed to strengthen the coordination and cooperation mechanisms with the other bodies active in the areas such as BALTFISH and the Baltic Sea Advisory Council. Fisheries is considered as a big contributor to the economic and cultural heritage of the Baltic region, which is why HELCOM aims to enhance its efforts to ensure that all fish stocks in the Baltic Sea are fished sustainably by 2021 through effective long-term management measures based on the best scientific evidence. To achieve that, the Baltic Sea Action Plan recommends that fisheries management in the region is developed based on an ecosystem approach. 

Sportfiskarna, EAA’s Swedish member organisation, participates to the HELCOM activities as an observer on behalf of the EAA. The EAA follows the HELCOM activities in various areas of direct interest to the European anglers including the work on some critically important species such as the Baltic salmon, cod and eels. 

More information on the meeting is available here

Access the full Ministerial Declaration here.

Read more about the three themes of the meeting here.

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