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EnvironmentalResearchWeb Newswire #19
09.05.2014 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.

Arctic river ice is less reliable
7 May, 2014
Shorter ice season means winter transport could be tougher

More cropland used for exports
6 May, 2014
But amount of land growing products for domestic use nearly constant for last 24 years

Halving meat and dairy consumption could slash farming emissions
2 May, 2014
Adopting a 'demitarian' diet would lead to a 25–40% reduction in nitrogen emissions from agriculture in Europe, report shows (from the Guardian)

Local knowledge can minimize environmental impact of offshore wind
1 May, 2014
Construction generally has negative impact on marine wildlife, effects of operational phase less clear

 
PRESS RELEASE HELCOM (May)
07.05.2014 00:00

HELCOM enhances coordinated environmental monitoring

First international network planned for monitoring offshore water birds in the Baltic

07 May 2014

The lack of a joint network to monitor and share data on Baltic offshore water birds will be among the issues addressed in the HELCOM BALSAM Project meetings in Tallinn, Estonia, this week. HELCOM has for long had a high focus on coordinated international environmental monitoring for the Baltic. The EU co-funded BALSAM aims to enhance the coordination, as well as fill gaps in the regional monitoring work by strengthening the capacity of the Baltic Sea coastal countries in their monitoring of water birds, benthic habitats, seals and non-indigenous species in ports.

“Coordinated monitoring of the offshore water bird has not been carried out in the Baltic before and the aim is now to build a platform to start international collaboration to monitor and share data on the birds. Coordinated efforts in monitoring would help protect endangered seabirds in the Baltic, such as Steller’s eider and long-tailed duck”, says Ainars Aunins from the Latvian Fund for Nature, coordinator of the seabird platform.

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PRESS RELEASE HELCOM (April)
25.04.2014 00:00

Reducing nutrient pollution can cost less

25 April 2014

The 2013 HELCOM nutrient reduction scheme is a step towards cost-efficient water protection, suggests a recent study by the University of Helsinki and MTT Agrifood Research Finland. The conclusions state that while there is no need to revise the 2013 targets set for the Baltic Sea catchment, more flexibility for the implementation is required in order to maximise the economic benefits. Furthermore, the cost of reaching the previous nutrient reduction targets, as set in the 2007 Baltic Sea Action Plan, would have been 16% higher although the revised targets are now more ambitious with respect to phosphorus.

By adopting the 2013 HELCOM Ministerial Declaration last October, the HELCOM members committed to revised nutrient reduction targets for each Baltic coastal country to limit their annual inputs below maximum allowable level in specific sub-basins. The report Prospects for cost-efficient water protection in the Baltic Sea provides ideas to boost the performance of national implementation programmes of HELCOM countries.

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PRESS RELEASE HELCOM (April)
19.04.2014 00:00

More work still needed on inclusion of off-shore areas

New recommendation adopted on Baltic Sea protected areas

19 April 2014

HELCOM work on marine protected areas (MPAs) took a major leap forward as the new Recommendation on coastal and marine Baltic Sea protected areas was adopted earlier this month (Rec 35-1). Protected areas are essential for maintaining healthy biodiversity and ensuring the versatility of ecosystems.

The primary reason for creating the new Recommendation is the need to update selection criteria of marine protected areas. Such improved criteria are now possible due to recent major HELCOM work to define Red-listed species at risk of extinction, as well as biotopes threatened by collapse in the Baltic Sea. Another essential feature is that the network of HELCOM MPAs aims to be ecologically coherent, in other words that the collection of sites protects the full range of biodiversity in the region. Moreover, the contents of management plans for the protected areas require urgent attention.

The area of HELCOM marine protected areas has increased threefold since 2004 and now covers about 12 % of the marine area, thereby exceeding the target of 10 % set by the Convention on Biological Diversity, confirms the HELCOM Overview report published last year. The Baltic Sea was one of the first regional seas in the world to reach this target.

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PRESS RELEASE HELCOM (April)
15.04.2014 00:00

New guide helps ships to reduce alien species via ballast water in the Baltic Sea

15 April 2014

HELCOM has released today a Guide to Alien Species and Ballast Water Management in the Baltic Sea, to mitigate the harmful impact of alien species and to inform stakeholders, i.a. mariners entering in the area. The new Guide provides an overview of the global and regional implementation measures applicable in the Baltic Sea.

The enclosed form, low salinity and relatively lively maritime traffic make the Baltic Sea prone to entrance and settlement of non-native species transmitted through ships ballast water. Shipping connects the region to a multitude of destinations all around the world and can thus not be addressed by Baltic Sea countries alone.

This global threat to the Baltic Sea is addressed by the 2004 International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention) of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). The BWM Convention aims to prevent the spread of harmful aquatic organisms from one region to another, by establishing standards and procedures for the management and control of ships' ballast water and sediments.

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PRESS RELEASE HELCOM (April)
08.04.2014 00:00

Regular aerial surveillance by HELCOM countries has helped reduce spills since 1980s

Flight hours dropped in detecting spills in the Baltic

08 April 2014

The new HELCOM report on illegal discharges in the Baltic Sea indicates a drop in flight hours, particularly in Sweden and Germany. Overall in 2013, the total hours of aerial surveillance in the HELCOM area sank by 15 % from 2012. A clear positive trend, for a number of years, is the decrease in both the size of observed mineral oil spills and the number of spills.

For better protection of the Baltic marine environment from pollution, every ship entering the area is urged to comply with anti-pollution regulations. The intensive aerial surveillance has helped, by its share, to reduce illegal spills significantly in the Baltic Sea (see figure below), despite the increasing traffic. To maintain the positive trend there is a need for adequate surveillance also in the future by all HELCOM countries.

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PRESS RELEASE HELCOM (March)
25.03.2014 00:00

New project improves eutrophication assessments on Baltic-wide scale

25 March 2014

High quality assessing of the entire Baltic Sea’s eutrophication status is expected to greatly improve through a new Project, soon wrapping up its kick-off meeting in Helsinki, Finland. During the 2-year project EUTRO-OPER, the whole assessment process concerning the nine Baltic coastal states will be designed and implemented, from monitoring and data aggregation to visualizing the final assessment.  HELCOM has long experience in assessment work of highest standards – elementary for estimating the effectiveness of any adopted measures and for improving the health of Baltic marine environment.

The key Project results will include more efficient data flow allowing for regular updates in an automated way; flexibility in the system to also extract information; as well as improved integration of indicators on eutrophication status with the use of so called HEAT 3 assessment tool. With the new approach, HELCOM member states will be able to utilize the reported data and assessment to also serve their other requirements such as of EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive as far as EU countries are concerned.

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PRESS RELEASE HELCOM (March)
21.03.2014 00:00

Studies on urban waste water show that common painkiller pollutes the Sea

Finding pharmaceutical flows from
St. Petersburg to the Baltic Sea

20 March 2014

First pilot results on pharmaceutical flows and microplastic litter from St. Petersburg waste waters to the Baltic Sea were published today in St. Petersburg, Russia, in the XV International Environmental Forum - Baltic Sea Day. The activities of HELCOM BASE Project to tackle these increasing environmental threats has discovered that a common anti-inflammatory drug, very difficult to remove in treatment process, can be found in waste water, while concentrations of the 2 examined hormones are low. As per microplastics, the study has found that the treatment process reduces effectively the amount of micro-sized litter, but a part of them also ends up in the water environment.

The EU-funded HELCOM Project on Implementation of the Baltic Sea Action Plan in Russia (BASE) has cooperated on these previously unstudied concerns with the State Unitary Enterprise Vodokanal of St. Petersburg. Vodokanal is a water and waste water company at the forefront of exploring new issues in Russia.

The BASE Project component to identify sources and flow patterns of pharmaceuticals in St. Petersburg to the Baltic Sea focuses on three substances: a common synthetic hormone and a natural hormone, as well as diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory drug. All of them are included in European Union’s pharmaceuticals monitoring watch list, established last year.

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Improving Environmental Monitoring in the Black Sea
19.03.2014 00:00

Improving Environmental Monitoring in the Black Sea.

The Black Sea is one of the most vulnerable regional seas in the world given its limited exchange of water with the open oceans and the large area of continental Europe from which it receives the drainage. The four strongly interlinked priority trans-boundary problems of the Black Sea are eutrophication – nutrient enrichment, changes in marine living resources, chemical pollution (including oil), and biodiversity/habitat changes, including alien species introduction – as well as the underlying root causes like industrial activities, agriculture, domestic wastewater, sea transport (oil spills, ballast water), and coastal zone degradation (urbanisation, tourism).

The Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea against Pollution (Bucharest Convention) addresses these problems through enhanced cooperation among its signatories. The development/improvement of a monitoring network is considered to be a management target of high priority. Further coordination in policies and legislation between the Black Sea countries is also of common interest to the EU’s partners countries – being also members of the Black Sea Commission (BSC) – in so far it influences their own ability to implement EU legislation and policies, notably the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).

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PRESS RELEASE HELCOM (March)
11.03.2014 00:00

Region’s key current issues for a cleaner Baltic Sea reviewed in HELCOM Annual Meeting

Work starts on Baltic marine litter action plan

7 March 2014 – The 35th Annual Meeting of HELCOM closed yesterday evening after reviewing the current and relevant key issues related to regional policy-making on Baltic marine environment.

The Annual Meeting, involving HELCOM member parties which consist of all the Baltic coastal nations and the EU, is the highest decision-making body of HELCOM and explores the yearly developments concerning eutrophication, hazardous substances, biodiversity and maritime activities. This year’s Meeting started with a special festive flavor with the 40th Anniversary Jubilee session celebrating the signing of the 1974 Helsinki Convention, providing the basis for HELCOM work.

The Meeting decided yesterday on necessary steps in order to develop a Regional Action Plan on marine litter by 2015, as agreed by the Ministerial Meeting last October. Marine litter is a broad and critical concern and the Action Plan will form a regional strategy on how to deal with it in a comprehensive way. The Plan will be developed based on information on sources and amounts of marine litter, and it aims to include concrete measures to minimize the presence of marine litter in the Baltic Sea. Its development will be organized through regional workshops and with close involvement of the Contracting Parties. The proposed working plan utilizes the experience from preparing the Regional Action Plan for the North-East Atlantic within OSPAR.

 

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