HELCOM addressed nutrients, stormwater and microlitter issues at PRESSURE 10-2019
Nutrients, stormwater and microlitter were headlining the Tenth Meeting of HELCOM Working Group on Reduction of Pressures from the Baltic Sea Catchment Area (PRESSURE 10-2019) that was held in Tallinn from 9 to 12 April 2019, HELCOM says in a press release.
High nutrient load from land-based sources – the central discussion point of PRESSURE 10-2019 – remains one of the largest pressures on the Baltic Sea, leading to eutrophication that causes growth of toxic algae and oxygen depletion.
At PRESSURE 10-2019, the delegates proposed to advance regional policy instruments to inspire additional efforts for minimizing this environmental pressure on the marine ecosystem. The proposals include further development of the HELCOM nutrient reduction scheme and its follow up system, and of the HELCOM nutrient recycling strategy. Nutrient recycling will be key for curbing eutrophication.
Specifically, attention was directed to the effectiveness of implemented or planned measures to reduce nutrient load on the marine environment, as well as their sufficiency to achieve targets set by the Baltic Sea Action Plan.
The delegates also agreed to intensify cooperation on nutrient reduction with river basin management authorities, for instance through workshops. The alignment of nutrient reduction targets for river basins with the ones set for the marine environment was also foreseen as a tool for targeted measures to effectively decrease the nutrient load in the Baltic Sea.
The HELCOM delegates also welcomed the first official results from the newly commissioned waste water treatment plant in Kaliningrad. Two years of constant environmental monitoring showed that nutrient input to the Baltic Sea from the city of Kaliningrad was reduced by about 200 tonnes of phosphorus and 1200 tonnes of nitrogen annually.
Because of the improvement, the delegates of PRESSURE 10-2019 recommended to remove the Kaliningrad municipality from the HELCOM list of hotspots where it is currently listed. "The HELCOM list of hot spots now stands a good chance to become shorter," said Dmitry Frank-Kamenetsky, the Professional Secretary handling nutrient related issues at HELCOM.
On stormwater, PRESSURE 10-2019 agreed to revise the related HELCOM Recommendation and to open it to reflections on microlitter and resilience to climate change.
Further on marine litter, Denmark presented a comprehensive study on expanded polystyrene (EPS) which is a widespread litter item found in the Baltic Sea. The delegates subsequently agreed to start work on regional measures to deal with EPS litter.
On underwater noise, PRESSURE 10-2019 agreed on the structure of the Action Plan on Underwater Noise which will be elaborated by 2020. The plan will specifically look into keeping marine habitats undisturbed by underwater noise.
PRESSURE 10-2019 was hosted by the Ministry of the Environment of Estonia in Tallinn, and was chaired by Lars Sonesten, Chair of the HELCOM Pressure Group.