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Create marine protected areas
Start date: Dec 31, 2009, End date: Dec 30, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The Baltic Sea has a wide variety of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) which cover 12% of the Baltic Sea, including EU’s Natura 2000 sites. The HELCOM Baltic Sea Protected Areas (BSPAs) constitute a large part of these MPAs and cover about 11% of the Baltic Sea. Many BSPAs overlap with other MPAs, such as Natura2000 sites. It is, however, unknown whether the BSPA network is ecologically coherent in its current state. The protection provided by the BSPAs seems to be biased, as the majority of the BSPAs are located in coastal waters, while far less BSPAs are located in the Exclusive Economic Zone. The BSPAs network and the features being protected by it will be assessed in the HELCOM PROTECT (Completing the BSPA network and the data and information on the marine protected areas of the Baltic Sea) project, initiated in April 2013. The project is carried out under supervision of HELCOM HABITAT, and it will continue until the end of 2014 (funding pending).The first task of the PROTECT project is to ensure a good data basis. This includes the update of the data collected into the BSPA database (, such as information on designation of BSPAs, the state of their management plans and the status of human pressures. This updated information will be used for an analysis of ecological coherence of the network and compiled into a concise report. The goal is to identify possible gaps in the ecological coherence of the network, and create suggestions for possible new areas to protect in order to fill these gaps. The quality of protection offered by the BSPAs will be improved by ensuring that within five years of establishment every BSPA has a working management plan that also acknowledges the marine waters.Another task of the PROTECT project is to modernize the BSPA database so that it better serves those seeking for information on BSPAs, as well as Contracting Parties of HELCOM who use the database for updating information on BSPAs. The database will be completely restructured and the new version will include a map interface. Achievements: New designations of MPAs have been made, and the number of management plans has increased. Now the network covers 11.7% of the Baltic Sea. The 2013 overview of the status of the MPAs network shows the progress /targets per sub-basins, for offshore areas. Implementation of the BSAP and the HELCOM Copenhagen Ministerial Declaration related to the need to designate further MPAs especially in the EEZ and to develop management plans and measures for all MPAs.The revision of HELCOM Recommendation 15/5 on coastal and marine Baltic Sea protected areas (HELCOM BSPAs) is close to finalization.HELCOM’s Fisheries and Environmental Forum considers various issues and also measures that are under the CFP.
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