The Helsinki Convention (HELCOM) seeks to protect the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution from land, air and sea, as well as to preserve biological diversity and to promote the sustainable use of marine resources.


Helsinki Convention

Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment
of the Baltic Sea Area


Entered into force



HELCOM - The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission
Katajanokanlaituri 6B

Contracting Parties

Denmark; Estonia, European Union; Finland; Germany; Latvia; Lithuania; Poland; Russia; Sweden

Main objectives

The Helsinki Convention includes the protection of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution from land, air and sea. It also commits the signatories to take measures on conserving habitats and biological diversity and for the sustainable use of marine resources. 

HELCOM is more specifically:

  1. an environmental policy maker for the Baltic Sea area by developing common environmental objectives and actions
  2. an environmental focal point providing information about the state of and trends in the marine environment, the efficiency of measures to protect it and common initiatives and positions, which can form the basis for decision-making in other international fora
  3. a body for developing, according to the specific needs of the Baltic Sea, recommendations of its own and recommendations supplementary to measures imposed by other international organisations
  4. a supervisory body dedicated to ensuring that HELCOM environmental standards are fully implemented by all parties throughout the Baltic Sea and its catchment area
  5. a coordinating body, ascertaining multilateral response in case of major maritime incidents.

Last holistic assessment of the status of the Regional Sea performed (QSR)

State of the Baltic Sea 2023

  • More publications are available here


HELCOMs work is guided by the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP), an ambitious programme to restore the good ecological status of the Baltic marine environment.
The Plan, the first of which was adopted by all the coastal states and the EU in 2007, provides a concrete basis for HELCOM work. It incorporates the latest scientific knowledge and innovative management approaches into strategic policy implementation, and stimulates goal-oriented multilateral cooperation around the Baltic Sea region. The BSAP is regularly updated in ministerial meetings.

HELCOM produces regular assessments on a wide range of topics of relevance for the Baltic Sea. These include the holistic assessments of the Baltic Sea, the pollution load compilation and the Maritime assessment.
All HELCOM assessments are published under the Baltic Sea Environment Proceedings-series and are available on the HELCOM webpage.

HELCOM Monitoring and Assessment Strategy contains Data and Information Strategy, which outlines principles on collecting and sharing monitoring data to be used for assessment purposes.

The underlying assessment datasets and assessment data products are made available in HELCOM Map and Data service and Metadata catalogue. The assessment datasets an be referenced by URLs for reference in other policies e.g. in MSFD.