HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan receives strong support at Stakeholder Conference

Pressmeddelande   •   Mar 10, 2006 15:35 CET

Helsinki, 8 March (HELCOM) – A concept of an ambitious action plan, now being drafted by the Helsinki Commission to rescue the Baltic Sea marine environment, has received overwhelming support at a Stakeholder Conference, held on 7 March in Helsinki, Finland, where up to 200 participants, representing scientific and business communities, governments of the coastal countries, as well as major regional organisations met to discuss the objectives of the strategy and to provide input to its further development.

“One of the main highlights of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan is that its development requires active participation from all major stakeholder groups – from governments, through industry and NGOs, right down to the individuals living on the shores of the Baltic Sea, to ensure that the HELCOM action plan is relevant and can be effectively implemented in practice,” said the Executive Secretary of the Helsinki Commission, Ms Anne Christine Brusendorff. “And the kick-off Stakeholder Conference is considered as the starting point for this process”.

Last year, the HELCOM Member States and the EU decided to develop a Baltic Sea Action Plan, to ensure that all possible measures are taken to reduce pollution in the Baltic Sea and to repair the damage done to the marine environment. The HELCOM action plan, which has already been widely heralded as a pilot project for the European seas under the newly drafted EU Marine Strategy, will provide a unique opportunity to take joint wide-scale and decisive actions to achieve the ultimate target of having a healthy marine environment with balanced eco-systems even for the present generation to enjoy.

Commenting on the Helsinki Commission’s work to create a strategic plan to rescue the marine environment, the State Secretary from the Finnish Ministry of the Environment, Mr Stefan Wallin underlined that “HELCOM is the only intergovernmental organisation within the Baltic Sea region with the mandate to deal comprehensively with the problems of the Baltic Sea and to jointly agree on implementation of measures to preserve and protect the Baltic marine environment, to conserve natural habitats and biodiversity and to ensure the sustainable use of natural resources within the Baltic Sea region.” In his speech at the Conference Mr Wallin emphasised that the preparation of the HELCOM action plan must be open-ended and transparent. “We must use this opportunity of preparing this new Baltic Sea Action Plan to make it as comprehensive and, at the same time, as realistic and action-oriented as possible..,” he also added.

The European Commission “strongly backs the BSAP (Baltic Sea Action Plan) and intends to take an active part in its development over the coming months,” said Mr Peter Gammeltoft, Head of the Water and Marine Unit in the Directorate General for Environment at the European Commission. He underlined that the plan under preparation “is the cornerstone for further action” in the Baltic Sea region. “It is also fully in line with the EU Marine Strategy,” he added. “The BSAP will apply the ecosystem-based approach to the management of the Baltic Sea. In setting a definition of ‘good ecological status’ for the Baltic Sea as well as specific environmental targets and necessary measures, the BSAP will be instrumental to the successful implementation of the (EU Marine) Strategy in the region. The BSAP therefore makes HELCOM a front-runner and a model to follow among regional seas conventions in Europe,” Mr Gammeltoft said.

The programme of the kick-off Stakeholder Conference consisted of a general presentation of the aim and timing of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan, introduction on the state of marine environment, four thematic sessions on the proposed objectives for the main environmental issues: eutrophication, hazardous substances, biodiversity and shipping, as well as general comments and presentations by high-level politicians.

Keynote speakers also included Mr Harro Pitkänen, Senior Vice President of NIB, Mr Bob Dekker, OSPAR Chairman, Mr Kornelius Sigmundsson, CBSS/CSO Chairman, Ms Marjukka Porvari, the John Nurminen Foundation, Mr Esa Härmälä, BFFE, Mr Gunnar Norén, CCB, Mr Sergej Olenin, Klaipeda University, Mr Lasse Gustavsson, WWF, Mr Carsten Melchiors, BIMCO, and Mr Tim Wilkins, INTERTANKO.

The outcome of the Stakeholder Conference on the Baltic Sea Action Plan was discussed today at the HELCOM annual meeting, which takes place on 8-9 March in Helsinki, Finland.


For details on the Conference, please see press release,

Conference programme,

And also HELCOM thematic reports for the Conference

Note to Editors:

The Helsinki Commission, or HELCOM, works to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution through intergovernmental co-operation between the countries bordering the sea - Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Sweden, and also the European Community. HELCOM is the governing body of the "Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area," more usually known as the Helsinki Convention.

For more information, please contact:

Mr Nikolay Vlasov
Information Secretary
Tel: +358 9 62202235
Fax: +358 9 6220 2239