[Baltic Sea] The [Convention on the protection of the marine environment (from pollution) of the Baltic Sea, 1974] ([Helsinki Convention]) aims to protect and enhance the marine environment of the Baltic Sea by means of regional cooperation. The Parties to the Convention are committed to: prevent and control pollution from various sources including pollution from land-based sources, disposal of wastes at sea by ships, or through dumping and from sea-bed activities; counteract the introduction of hazardous substances into the Baltic Sea as specified by Annex 1; take measures and cooperate according to Annex 6 in order to eliminate or minimise pollution of the Baltic Sea area by oil or other harmful substances. The Parties have agreed upon several monitoring programmes through which data on airborne pollution, radioactive substances and several determinants of the marine environment are collected. The commitments imposed on the Parties are normally discharge limit values and operational requirements.
The objectives of the [1992 Helsinki Convention] are extended with the prevention and elimination of pollution in order "to promote the ecological restoration of the Baltic Sea and the preservation of its ecological balance". The Parties shall apply the precautionary principle, taking preventive measures assuming that substances introduced may create hazards in the marine environment to, inter alia, living resources and marine ecosystems. Also the Parties are obliged to apply the polluter-pays principle. The Parties are controlled by means of obligatory reporting according to a unified procedure, as well as by regular pollution-load compilation projects and emission inventories. The governing body is the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM) with representatives of the EU and the following countries: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden. HELCOM takes decisions unanimously. The decisions are most often take the form of recommendations to be implemented through appropriate national legislation. The implementation of these recommendations is under permanent review by HELCOM. By December 1997, 63 protected areas had been established under the Convention. However, many of these areas have not been officially recognized by the countries concerned.
The Coalition Clean Baltic (CCB) - a network for cooperation and coordination between NGOs in the Baltic Sea region - produced the [Baltic Sea Action Plan] in cooperation with World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) as a contribution to the work on environmental protection and nature conservation in the Baltic Sea region. The plan was presented by CCB and WWF at a Baltic NGO conference in Helsinki and also to the Baltic Environment Ministers at their meeting in 1992. The Plan lists the proposals for action which the cooperating organizations believe should be adopted by the Baltic governments, either individually or jointly, within the HELCOM framework. It calls for ecological sustainability as a guideline for planning future investments and industrial activities. Specific recommendations include: (1) that all Baltic states should sign and ratify the international agreements aimed at the protection of the Baltic Sea area and that all international agreements should be legally binding on the signatory states; (2) environmental impact assessments should be an obligatory part of decision-making procedures; (3) policies should be based on the precautionary principle and preventive action; (4) the development of environmental education and the distribution of environmental information to all educational fields and at all levels; and (5) environmental NGOs should be supported in establishing Environmental Education Centres in the Baltic Sea area. The Plan includes actions for the protection of threatened biotopes and endangered species of flora and fauna. The key issue is to assure that no further species and habitats will become endangered by human activities, for example by the establishment of an international network of protected coastal and marine areas in the Baltic Sea and support for the immediate ratification by the Baltic states of the Bonn, Bern and [Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, Especially as Waterfowl Habitat] ([Ramsar Convention])s.
[Black Sea] The aim of the [Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution, 1992] (Bucharest Convention) is to promote progress in the protection of the marine environment of the Black Sea and in the conservation of its living resources. The Convention establishes common legislative instruments for controlling marine pollution. To provide a more appropriate common policy framework, the governments have decided to formulate and adopt an environmental policy declaration for the Black Sea. This document, called the [Odessa Declaration] and adopted in April 1993, provides a clear indication of the principles, approaches, goals and common priorities for regional action. To develop national and regional capacities in implementing the [Bucharest Convention] and the [Odessa Declaration] and for a new fisheries policy, the Black Sea Environmental Programme has been developed. There are three Protocols to the Convention: [Protocol on Protection of the Black Sea Marine Environment against Pollution from Land-Based Sources], [Protocol on Cooperation in Combating Pollution of the Black Sea Marine Environment by Oil and Other Harmful Substances in Emergency Situations], and the [Protocol on the Protection of the Black Sea Marine Environment against Pollution by Dumping] (not yet in force).
The [Black Sea Environmental Programme] is an initiative of the Global Environment Facility. The primary activity to be carried out under the Programme is the preparation of a [Strategic Action Plan for the Rehabilitation and Protection of the Black Sea], which was agreed by the governments of the six Black Sea states (Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, the Russian Federation, Turkey and the Ukraine) in Turkey on 30-31 October 1996. In the Plan, the governments of the Black Sea states, together with the wider international community, commit themselves to a pragmatic programme of actions based upon common objectives and targets for restoring and protecting the Black Sea environment. Its overall aims are to enable the population of the Black Sea region to enjoy a healthy living environment, and to attain a biologically diverse Black Sea ecosystem with viable natural populations of higher organisms and which will support livelihoods based on sustainable activities such as fishing, aquaculture and tourism. Cooperative action is based on sustainable development and the precautionary principle.
The central element of the Plan focuses is the "Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis", a comprehensive scientific assessment of the environmental problems facing the Black Sea, their underlying causes and the steps which can be taken to remedy them. It includes the results of pilot surveys of pollution, inventories of land-based sources of pollution, studies of fisheries and Black Sea biodiversity and habitats, studies of socio-economic activities, coastal-zone management, the economies of the six Black Sea states, environmental legislation and the emerging role of public participation. It also examines the costs of the actions proposed and the most appropriate timescale for completing them. Hereafter the Programme will be directed at supporting the Black Sea governments and NGOs in implementing the Plan, especially through the creation of [National Black Sea Action Plans] and a [Black Sea Environment Fund].
The Strategic Action Plan was to be elaborated into national action plans by the Black Sea states by October 1997. From 1997, the programme staff are to hand over their tasks to staff from the [Istanbul Commission of the Bucharest Convention]. The Commission was to be operational by January 1997 with financial and technical support provided by the Black Sea states, but this has not yet been achieved. The [Istanbul Commission] should establish a body to provide support for implementing the necessary actions. The Secretariat of the Commission should report annually to the Commission on the progress made in implementing the Plan. The Commission should then decide on any further measures that may be necessary to secure implementation.
With regard to habitats and landscapes, the Programme recommends that the Black Sea states should receive assistance in legal, management and socio-economic capacity-building. National nature conservation legislation should be based on international recommendations and IUCN criteria, so that protected areas should be classified into six national categories according to their primary management objectives. Legislation also should be passed to facilitate the integration of the sites into regional and global networks, such as Biosphere Reserves, World Heritage Sites, Ramsar Sites and regional transboundary protected areas. One of the more concrete actions regarding biological diversity protection is that a regional [Black Sea Red Data Book], identifying and describing endangered species, will be prepared and published by December 1998.