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PRESS RELEASE HELCOM (December)
02.12.2014 00:00

Biodiversity data surges HELCOM map service up to 500 layers

02 December 2014

The new HELCOM Biodiversity map service is now published as a part of the free HELCOM data and map service, operational in its current form since 2010 and probably one of the globe’s largest hubs of compiled regional spatial information on marine environment. With the Biodiversity map service now open, HELCOM provides free access to some 500 map layers in total, with maps ranging from biodiversity landscape features to information of maritime traffic.

The newest addition to the HELCOM map service are maps on the distribution of red-listed species and biotopes produced in the HELCOM RED LIST project in 2013. The datasets make the data of the Species Information Sheets and Biotope Information Sheets publically available for management purposes, including maritime spatial planning.

The newly added Red List datasets provide distribution maps on red-listed biotopes (36), benthic invertebrates (59), fish species (58), bird species (32), and marine mammals (5). The preparation of datasets for online publishing has been supported by a project funded by the European Commission.

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PRESS RELEASE HELCOM (November)
25.11.2014 00:00

Revitalizing Baltic Sea procedures for marine spill response

25 November 2014

Major revisions of the internationally agreed procedures for marine pollution response in the Baltic Sea region, the HELCOM Response Manual, will be considered at the HELCOM Response Working Group meeting in Tallinn, beginning today.

The 3-day Meeting collects ministries and authorities with operational responsibilities on marine pollution preparedness and response in the coastal countries of the Baltic Sea and the EU. It will be chaired by Bernt Stedt, Swedish Coastguard.

The original Manual on marine pollution incidents was adopted in 1983, based on a series of HELCOM Recommendations dealing with international warning, reporting, communication and command systems for the Baltic Sea region developed since the 1970s. These agreed operational procedures and best practices for the Baltic Sea are followed, exercised and revised on a regular basis by the coastal countries and the EU.

Today the Manual consists of three parts: Volume I on general issues, such as national contact information, procedures for alarm and requests for international assistance, aerial surveillance and financial aspects of international operations; Volume II on spills involving hazardous substances; and Volume III on response the shore.

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PRESS RELEASE HELCOM (November)
14.11.2014 00:00

Negotiations on ships’ sewage and other maritime issues predict a busy HELCOM winter

14 November 2014

The current status of reception facilities for sewage, as well as their use, are among the region’s hot shipping topics considered at HELCOM meetings this fall. Key occasions include the annual HELCOM Maritime Meeting last week and the HELCOM Heads of Delegation meeting, to take place 9-10 December 2014.

The national contacts and industry and civil society observers in the maritime field have commented an update of the HELCOM report on current availability and use of sewage reception facilities in the Baltic Sea area. The revised version of the report is currently developed further based on recent information from the cruise industry, ports and national administrations. The 2014 version of the report will be released during spring 2015.

The last week’s Maritime meeting in Riga, Latvia discussed the current status of the notification submission to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on the sewage port reception facilities. Such a notification is needed in order to enforce the status of the Baltic Sea as a special area in terms of sewage from passenger ships, as agreed at IMO in 2011.

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PRESS RELEASE HELCOM (October)
03.11.2014 00:00

Baltic marine monitoring and nature conservation combined in new HELCOM group

03 November 2014

The first meeting of the new HELCOM working group on the state of the environment and nature conservation in the Baltic Sea, starting today in Pärnu, Estonia, will formulate a concrete work plan regarding the two key themes of the group: monitoring and assessment as well as nature conservation and biodiversity. The 5-day session will discuss, among others, monitoring of benthic habitats, the production of the holistic assessment of the ecosystem health, as well as the modernization of the database on marine protected areas.

The future coordinated monitoring of benthic habitats in the Baltic Sea will be a key topic of the Meeting. The HELCOM Monitoring and Assessment Strategy states that monitoring in the Baltic Sea should cater for assessments of quality and quantity of habitats and biotopes. Still, at present the recently published HELCOM Monitoring Manual shows limited monitoring of benthic habitats in the Baltic Sea thus there is room for improvements and new joint initiatives.

Different tools for assessing biodiversity is another theme that expecting major attention. HELCOM recently agreed to start a project with the aim of producing a 2nd Holistic Assessment of the Ecosystem Health of the Baltic Sea by 2018. Assessing the state of biodiversity will be an important component of the holistic assessment and principles for such analyses will be considered at the meeting.

Moreover, the modernization of the HELCOM database on marine protected areas (MPA) will be discussed. HELCOM has hosted data on protected areas since 2006 and improvements regarding the structure and contents of the database have now been considered necessary. The new database will include data to cater the assessments of ecological coherence of MPAs, management plans and the effectiveness of managing MPAs.

The current development work on core indicators will also be reflected on, concerning biodiversity, hazardous substances as well as eutrophication. A major overall aim of the State group is to work across the monitoring-indicators-assessment chain in order to provide a stronger basis for coordinated development of the HELCOM thematic assessment tools.

Meeting site. Documents will be public after the meeting.

 

 
PRESS RELEASE HELCOM (October)
30.10.2014 00:00

Better follow-up expected for Baltic Sea countries’ nutrient reduction schemed

30 October 2014

The first meeting of a new HELCOM working group dealing with pressures from land to the Baltic Sea environment started today, to plan for the detailed work on mitigating nutrient and hazardous substance inputs as well as marine litter and underwater noise. Another key task is to improve follow-up on the HELCOM nutrient reduction scheme, first adopted in 2007, with clear targets per country for less nutrient inputs to the sea. The aim is to increase transparency in monitoring progress achieved by each HELCOM member. The work has continued since the update of the nutrient reduction scheme, jointly approved in the 2013 HELCOM Ministerial Meeting as a result from a highly complex calculation process.

One issue in need of further development for the group are core pressure indicators to complement the ongoing work to develop and agree on a common set of core indicators to describe Good Environmental Status and pressures on the marine environment. Such pressure indicators should link to human activities causing the releases of hazardous substances, and thus helping to scope which hazardous substances should be given priority and where exactly HELCOM can create added value comparing to existing regulations. Accordingly, the group will discuss where further joint or coordinated measures might be needed.

Progress so far to mitigate marine litter in the Baltic Sea will be discussed, as after a fruitful workshop last week the more detailed draft for a regional action plan is currently consulted by each nation. The work is on schedule hence the deadline for a March 2015 release for the plan holds.

Last but not least, the Meeting will discuss underwater noise and the first steps of implementation of the 2013 HELCOM Ministerial Declaration commitment related to mitigation of the negative impact of noise on the marine environment. An expert team is prepared to start hands-on work in a workshop on 26 November.

Meeting site. All documents will be public after the meeting.

 

 
EnvironmentalResearchWeb Newswire #44
29.10.2014 00:00

Welcome to the environmentalresearchweb newswire. This week we bring you details of the Arctic river ice that's becoming less reliable, a rise in the amount of land growing crops for export, how local knowledge can minimize the impact of offshore wind farms, and more. Simply click on the headlines below to read the full stories.

Environmental research round-up
29 Oct, 2014
Highlights from Environmental Research Letters (ERL), including nitrate in drinking water, winter cyclones and flooding, sustainable water consumption, and more.

Scientists put upper limit on sea-level rise
28 Oct, 2014
95% chance level for 2100 will help coastal areas with “worst-case scenario” planning

Seagrass meadows are crucial for human food supply
27 Oct, 2014
Many fish in coral triangle rely on seagrass habitat for at least part of their lifecycle

Seaweed problem could provide biofuel solution
24 Oct, 2014
A common algae found in abundance around coastlines and clogging up beaches may be the answer

No-till farming alone could cut yields
23 Oct, 2014
Study shows crop rotation and soil cover must accompany no-till to minimize yield drop

 
EnvironmentalResearchWeb Newswire #43
24.10.2014 00:00

Welcome to the environmentalresearchweb newswire. This week we bring you details of the Arctic river ice that's becoming less reliable, a rise in the amount of land growing crops for export, how local knowledge can minimize the impact of offshore wind farms, and more. Simply click on the headlines below to read the full stories.

The real John Nye lecture: 65 years of glaciology
21 Oct, 2014
91-year-old physicist John Nye speaks at British Branch meeting of the International Glaciological Society

Environmental research round-up
22 Oct, 2014
Highlights from Environmental Research Letters (ERL), including pest outbreaks in the Arctic, thawing permafrost, intensifying rainfall, particulate carbon in lakes, and more.

Using herbicide boosted release of banned insecticide DDT
21 Oct, 2014
French lake reveals vineyard pesticide history, and effects of glyphosate on soil erosion

Measuring plant output reveals where food demand may outstrip supply
20 Oct, 2014
Study of net primary production in sub-Saharan Africa identifies vulnerable regions

Why are tornadoes clustering together?
17 Oct, 2014
Average number of US tornadoes each year remains same but numbers per month are reaching extremes, both high and low

Sea level rise over past century unmatched in 6000 years, says study
16 Oct, 2014
Research finds 20cm rise since start of 20th century, caused by global warming and the melting of polar ice, is unprecedented (from the Guardian)

 
PRESS RELEASE HELCOM (October)
24.10.2014 00:00

Systematic action for Baltic marine litter starts next year

24 October 2014

Regional action on marine litter in the Baltic Sea took major leaps forward in a regional workshop which finished yesterday in Stralsund, Germany. All the HELCOM members, including the nine coastal countries as well as the EU, have agreed to develop a regional action plan for marine litter by 2015. The second working session has now produced a more defined draft action plan, soon ready for national consultation rounds before finalization and expected adoption in March 2015.

Importantly, participants from other Regional Seas Conventions – Black Sea, Mediterranean and the North-East Atlantic – shared experiences with HELCOM experts in developing and implementing a regional action plan for marine litter. The informal meeting discussed interregional challenges as well as ways for synergies in implementation of action plans on litter, providing a strong basis for developing measures across the regions.

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PRESS RELEASE HELCOM (October)
23.10.2014 00:00

Baltic seal monitoring systematized

23 October 2014

The core indicator development for marine mammals in the Baltic Sea area has been among key topics in the seal expert group meeting wrapping up today in Turku, Finland. The details for the operational core indicators, such as abundance, distribution and reproductive status, are timely since the overall HELCOM indicator work is at full speed, expecting finalization for the missing indicators in mid-2015. Once ready, the core indicators enable comparison of monitoring data and assessment results across the entire region, as well as allows for measuring any progress towards the Good Environmental Status of the Baltic Sea.

Furthermore, the seal expert meeting endorsed the guidelines on monitoring of seals, significantly improving the coordination of regional monitoring. The guidelines have been developed by the EU co-funded BALSAM project, which is also developing databases for seal abundance and distribution. The databases will be hosted by the HELCOM Secretariat and made available for all public.

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PRESS RELEASE HELCOM (October)
02.10.2014 00:00

HELCOM and OSPAR experts cooperate on assessing marine biodiversity

02 October 2014

Experts from the Baltic and North-East Atlantic regions meet today in Gothenburg, Sweden to initiate cooperation on biodiversity indicators. The session will take forward the policy ambitions of all the twenty countries in the HELCOM and OSPAR Regional Seas Conventions.

There are many species that move between the North-East Atlantic and the Baltic Sea, including bird and fish species. Cooperation on activities to monitor and assess the state of these highly mobile animals and other biodiversity is crucial for a wider understanding of the marine environments of the North-East Atlantic and the Baltic Sea.

Both HELCOM and OSPAR have concluded that there is a need to cooperate on the implementation of their respective Regional Seas’ strategies and action plans, as well as the coherent implementation of other related frameworks in the two areas such as the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

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