HELCOM expected to endorse recommendation on aquaculture
The delegates representing all Baltic coastal states as well as the EU are expected to agree on HELCOM Recommendation on sustainable aquaculture in the Baltic Sea region in a meeting starting today in Tallinn, Estonia. The two-day meeting is also anticipated to endorse a list of concrete actions to tackle marine litter; almost twenty new HELCOM core indicators; as well as speedier international permits for research vessels, the organisation said in a press release.
"The new HELCOM Recommendation on sustainable aquaculture will greatly assist the Baltic Sea region in developing this sector in healthy balance between economical profit and environmental protection. The Recommendation gives guidance for the best practices for minimizing and preventing negative environmental impact of aquaculture on Baltic marine ecosystems. Moreover, the jointly agreed document encourages the industry, predicted to grow in the region, to realize its great potential to develop and apply environmentally friendly technologies and production methods, both in marine and fresh water," says HELCOM Chair, Harry Liiv.
The Meeting is also awaited to give final approval for over thirty regional actions to mitigate littering of the Baltic Sea. The proposed actions are part of HELCOM Recommendation (36/1 ) which was already adopted in March. The lengthy list of actions with set deadlines focuses on reduction of littering of marine environment from the land-based sources which entail improvement of waste management and sewage water systems, remediation and removal of dumpsites and tackling top items such as microparticles, polystyrene foam, plastic bags, sanitary litter in sewage, and bottles and containers. The actions also cover sea-based sources, including developing best practices for handling waste from fisheries and ships, but also collection of abandoned fishing gears such as ghost nets. As according to research most of marine litter derives from households and consumer practices, a set of actions addressing education and outreach on marine litter is also included in the document.
The comprehensive preparations for the core set of HELCOM indicators will likely be rewarded on Thursday, as the common definition of good environmental status of close to twenty of these funDamental tools await adoption by the HELCOM Heads of Delegation. Core indicators represent different biological and chemical features of the marine ecosystem and are an essential component of the HELCOM Monitoring and Assessment Strategy, and as regularly updated, also providing the basis for HELCOM thematic and holistic assessments. Good environmental status is agreed for each indicator, thereby forming the basis to evaluate the status of the Baltic Sea and the achievement of HELCOM work to improve the environmental condition.
Less unnecessary delays for granting of permits for monitoring by scientific research vessels is among the Meeting topics, as a renewed HELCOM Recommendation is in the pipeline for adoption. The main aim of the Recommendation is to ensure granting permits in the territorial waters, Exclusive Economic Zone, fishing zones or continental shelves in neighboring countries related to the Baltic Monitoring Programme without delay. It also calls the countries to grant no shorter than 1-year permits. As a related positive outcome from a recently completed BALSAM project, a shared online site  for information and coordination of offshore monitoring cruises has been established by HELCOM.
Other meeting topics include HELCOM/OSPAR Joint Harmonized Procedure for ballast water exemptions, as proposed revisions are expecting endorsement; launching the work on underwater noise with the aim of a knowledge base on this growing concern; as well as a smoother online follow-up system for the country-wise nutrient reduction targets.
HELCOM (Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission - Helsinki Commission) established in 1974 is the governing body of the Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area, known as the Helsinki Convention. The Contracting Parties are Denmark, Estonia, the European Union, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden. HELCOM works on protection of the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution through intergovernmental cooperation.