The Helsinki Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area adopted in 1992
The Baltic Sea is protected by the "Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment in the Baltic Sea Area".
In 1974, for the first time ever, all the sources of pollution around an entire sea were made subject to a single convention, signed by the then seven Baltic coastal states. In the light of political changes, and developments in international environmental and maritime law, a new convention was signed in 1992 by all the states bordering on the Baltic Sea, and the European Community.
The Convention covers the whole of the Baltic Sea area, including inland waters as well as the water of the sea itself and the sea-bed. Measures are also taken in the whole catchment area of the Baltic Sea to reduce land-based pollution.
The governing body of the Convention is the Helsinki Commission - Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission - also known as HELCOM. The present Contracting Parties to HELCOM are Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden. The European Union is also a party to this convention.
The Marine Strategy Framework Directive 2008/56/EC requires that, in developing their marine strategies, Member States use, where practical and appropriate, existing regional cooperation structures, to co-ordinate among themselves and to make every effort to coordinate their actions with those of third countries in the same region or sub-region. The HELCOM Moscow Ministerial Meeting held on 20 May 2010 also noted this issue and the Ministerial Declaration contains the following: “[We...] DECIDE to establish, for those HELCOM Contracting States being also EU Member States, the role of HELCOM as the coordinating platform for regional implementation of the EU MSFD in the Baltic Sea including striving for harmonised national marine strategies for achieving GES...”.
In 2007 the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan was adopted, with four areas of priority:
The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region covers a wide range of issues including prosperity, safety, accessibility, but foremost is the recovery of the Baltic Sea environment. The environmental actions are directly supporting the work in HELCOM, but also actions on sustainable agriculture and fishery, maritime safety and Baltic Sea research are closely linked to HELCOM.
Other HELCOM publications can be found here.