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More detailed aerial surveillance expected in the Baltic Sea

Better reporting on harmful discharges other than oil from ships to the Baltic Sea is discussed by the HELCOM group on aerial surveillance, continuing its 2-day annual meeting in Sopot, Poland. The main focus of the Baltic aerial surveillance cooperation has traditionally been on detection of illegal discharges of mineral oil, while more systematic reporting on other harmful substances observed from air would also be needed. The group also continues to develop the pressure indicator of oil spills affecting the marine environment. This is a part of the larger HELCOM process of holistically assessing the Baltic Sea, not succeeding without solid information not just about the status but also about pressures towards the environment and the human activities behind it. The oil spill indicator, one of the many expecting finalization in June 2015, will be based on the data on illegal oil spills collected since the 1980's. In addition, the meeting will plan for the next pollution control operations. For having a realistic estimate of the total number of oil spills discharged into the Baltic Sea during a randomly selected period, Coordinated Extended Pollution Control Operations (CEPCO) are organized at least twice a year within the HELCOM framework. These high-intensity ...

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HELCOM focus on Baltic Sea and ships' sewage

During the HELCOM Annual Meeting on 3-4 March 2015, the Contracting Parties continued to address the issue of limiting passenger ships' sewage ending up in the Baltic Sea. The negotiations concerned various options to be able to be in a position that a joint notification by HELCOM countries could be sent to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). The deadline for documents for the next meeting of the IMO decision making body (MEPC 68 in May 2015) is Friday 6 March. The notification document has the function to notify that the relevant Baltic regional ports have adequate capacity to receive passenger sewage, as this is a prerequisite for the existing IMO Special Area status on sewage for the Baltic Sea to take effect. The HELCOM Heads of Delegations considered the issue, in addition to the plenary, during two working sessions on 3 March. At that time an agreement could not be reached regarding a notification covering all the Baltic Sea countries. As the HELCOM Chair stated in the meeting, HELCOM will follow developments at IMO and also continue the technical cooperation within the Port Reception Facilities (PRF) Cooperation Platform on sewage delivery between the administrations, industry stakeholders and the civil society. ...

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Cruise ship sewage in Baltic Sea ports thoroughly mapped

HELCOM issued a report providing information on port reception facilities for sewage ( PRFs) and their use by international cruise ships in the Baltic Sea area during 2014. Cruise ships operating in the Baltic Sea, their length of sea voyages as well as frequency and duration of port visits are described in detail. Also the ports visited by cruise ships and the sewage facilities are covered in terms of facilities and traffic trends. The report is based on information from obligatory AIS (Automatic Identification System) position reports received from a comprehensive list of cruise ships operating in the region. It provides thus a nearly complete coverage of cruise ship movements during 2014. Based on the analyses of ship movements, passenger capacity and port facilities, the new report helps also to clarify what the real needs of cruise traffic might be in terms of sewage management in the Baltic Sea cruise ports. Main findings Around 77 different cruise ships owned by 37 operators sailed in the Baltic Sea during the cruising season 2014. Half of these were smaller vessels with a maximum capacity of 1,500 persons or less, including staff and passengers. Eight vessels, or 10 %, were large vessels with a maximum ...

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IMO talks on Ballast Water Management exemptions resume in May

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has considered how to carry out exemptions and exceptions to the rules of the Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC) during a meeting. HELCOM has been actively working on regional aspects of the Convention for over a decade. This week's meeting of the IMO Pollution Prevention and Response sub-committee (PPR) considered various proposals on the subject matter, including the joint HELCOM-OSPAR procedure on exemptions adopted in 2013. In the ensuing discussion, views were expressed that the harmonized procedure on exemptions developed and adopted by HELCOM and OSPAR in 2013 is a good example of regional cooperation on these matters which other regions may use as an example. The IMO sub-committee agreed that further discussion on the relevant regulations (BWMC A-3 and A-4) and Guidelines (G7) was needed with a view to clarifying their application in the context of exceptions and exemptions under the BWM Convention. The meeting finally invited the 68th session of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), scheduled to take place 11-15 May 2015 in London, to consider the views expressed and advise on any follow-up actions. Source: HELCOMIn the start, I was forthright with you propecia before and after has changed my ...

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Ties closing between HELCOM and Baltic Sea regional strategy

The cooperation between HELCOM and the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) is expected to smoothen.   For the first time, a dedicated session with the representatives from relevant EUSBSR Priority Areas and Horizontal Actions was successfully organized as a part of the meeting of HELCOM Heads of Delegation representing all the Baltic coastal countries as well as the EU. Concrete proposals on why and how to improve the synergies between HELCOM and EUSBSR have been listed in the meeting outcome. The shared goal would be to better communicate the policy directions and needs by HELCOM, which then can be met with and supported by the EUSBSR work and projects. The meeting recommended practical ways for better use of the expertise of HELCOM groups. Using the existing forums, co-chairing, back-to-back meetings, opportunity for involving Russian experts, and helping HELCOM countries in tapping into EU funding were also mentioned as practical solutions for more effective regional cooperation. The timing for the joint HELCOM-EUSBSR meeting was particularly adept, as the HELCOM streamlining process has been completed few months ago while the Action Plan of the EUSBSR is currently under revision, expecting launch at the Strategy's Annual Forum in mid-June 2015. ...

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Work on BWM progresses in the HELCOM and OSPAR regions

The coastal countries of the Baltic and North Seas, as well as the EU, are reviewing their jointly agreed procedure for applying and granting exemptions under the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention, at a meeting in Madrid, Spain. The coastal countries and EU originally developed the Joint Harmonized Procedure on such exemptions during 2012–13 within the regional marine protection Commissions, HELCOM and OSPAR, with active participation from ship owner organizations. The procedure adopted in 2013 supplements the global exemption guidelines provided by IMO. The procedure has by today been tested in practice in more than 13 ports in the Baltic Sea, North Sea, Iberian Atlantic and the Great Lakes of North America. These practical tests of the port sampling protocol, adopted as part of the Procedure, will help to improve cost-efficiency, scientific reliability and comparability across regions. The sampling protocol is intended for use in ports in the Baltic, North-East Atlantic and beyond, as the basis of risk assessments required by IMO as a justification of an exemption. The Meeting will also consider revisions to the adopted criteria, and current list, of harmful alien species – also called as “target species”. Defining and selecting these target species is central for the outcome ...

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HELCOM revises Baltic Sea procedures for marine spill response

(Image Credit: Swedish Coast Guard) 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. 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. Currently 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. Changes considered to the Response Manual include the first drafting for a complete overhaul of the sections on hazardous substances ...

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HELCOM focuses on ship’s sewage and other maritime issues

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 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. Final agreement is yet to be reached when a submission to the IMO meeting is to take place, as three countries still wish to clarify ...

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