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Baltic Nations study pollution in their sea

by Alan Harten
March 6, 2009

The Helsinki Commission (HELCOM) wound up its annual meeting in Helsinki today by endorsing plans for a holistic assessment of the environmental status of the Baltic Sea.

This meeting was held under a Russian Chairman who started in 2008.

HELCOM connects the governments of nine countries, which border the Baltic Sea, as well as the European Union.

Its role is to safeguard the Sea from pollution.

At the two-day meeting, which finished today, representatives assessed HELCOM’s progress in the defense of the Baltic from pollution and set new targets and agendas for the future.

Ministers from the participating Baltic countries addressed the opening session.

The Baltic Sea Action Plan, designed to cut pollution in the marine environment and return the Sea to environmental stability by 2021, was the priority subject.

The plan was given the European Regional Champions Award for environment.

Chairman Maydanov said a holistic evaluation (HOLAS), to be carried out by scientists from Baltic countries, is fundamental for the successful realization of the Baltic Sea Action Plan and sets a target for success.

The study will bring together data on eutrophication, dangerous compounds and biodiversity.

It will also look at global warming and economic and human changes.

The Conference understood that finance is vital to executing the tasks in the Baltic Sea Action Plan, and that funding targets using various finance sources including the EU.

However, it was accepted that the Baltic countries must use the money to achieve the priorities set.

The Conference agreed that many financial sources could be found in the Baltic countries themselves.

Two major projects have just begun with some financing from the EU.

One is designed to enhance the ability of the countries to act in serious incidents of harmful compounds and oil spills.

Another will find the sources of these incidents by testing civic and industrial water disposal.

BaltHazAR is also vital for the Baltic Sea Action Plan.

BaltHazAR should cut releases of dangerous material in Kaliningrad and St. Petersburg, in Russia.

It was opened in 2009 and has funding support from the European Parliament

Chairman Maydanov recently visited Minsk, to talk about the potential for Belarus to join the Helsinki Convention perhaps by June 2009.

Belarus has almost 45 percent of its country in the Baltic basin.

Ukraine and the Czech Republic were invited to join the Helsinki Convention

Chairman Maydanov emphasized that the conference is crucial progress for the Moscow HELCOM Ministerial Meeting in 2010.

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