Baltic still faces serious threats from eutrophication and hazardous substances

At the annual meeting of the Helsinki Commission on the protection of the Baltic Sea (HELCOM), the organisation’s chairman has stated that pollution still threatens the Sea, although it was acknowledged that considerable work has been done to reduce the problem.


Speakers at the meeting, which took place from 5th to 7th March in Helsinki, outlined progress on a number of shipping and other marine issues, such as pollution and maritime safety. The deadlines set for the implementation of a variety of maritime safety measures look certain to be met, such as the systematic re-surveying of major shipping routes and ports.

“We want to encourage all HELCOM’s contracting parties to keep up the good work, and fully implement this package of maritime safety measures,” said Peter Ehlers, HELCOM Chairman. “We particularly welcome the introduction of measures which involve different ministries, because this integrated approach will also contribute to HELCOM’s sustainable development policies in the Baltic Sea region. But other types of pollution – entering the Baltic from the land and from the air – are also worrying,” he said, pointing out that the Baltic still faces a serious eutrophication problem, and that it is still burdened by hazardous substances.

However, reconstruction and renewal work designed to reduce pollution from facilities such as factories and failing or non-existent water treatment plants has been carried out at many of the region’s 132 pollution hot spots originally listed by HELCOM. So far, 26 hot spots have been removed from the list, and a further 14 expected to be deleted by the end of the year.

Projects for the future include the monitoring of the implementation of HELCOM recommendations, and a new project will elaborate on the Commission’s contribution to integrated coastal zone management in the Baltic Sea.

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