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Nine marine areas in the Baltic Sea included in the UN Convention on Biological Diversity

On Thursday, 29 November 2018, it was agreed that nine marine areas in the Baltic Sea will be included in the international Convention on Biological Diversity. This means that these marine areas are deemed to merit special protection. Such areas are known as Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs).

The parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity meet every two years. This year’s meeting, the 14th conference, was held in Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt, where the proposal to create new EBSAs in the Baltic Sea was adopted. The areas in the Baltic Sea are:
Northern Bothnian Bay
Kvarken Archipelago
Åland Sea, Åland Islands and the Finnish Archipelago Sea
Eastern Gulf of Finland
Inland Sea of the Western Estonian Archipelago
Southeastern Baltic Sea Shallows
Southern Gotland Harbour Porpoise Area
Fehmarn Belt
Fladen, Stora Middelgrund and Lilla Middelgrund

These areas are deemed to be particularly important for biodiversity in the Baltic Sea, based on seven criteria. At least one criterion must be met in order for the area to be classified as an EBSA. 

The decision means that these areas of the Baltic Sea now rank alongside ecologically and biologically significant areas around the world. How the areas will be protected is determined by the individual countries, but Monika Stankiewicz, Executive Secretary of HELCOM, stated:
Beyond the protection of unique biodiversity, the EBSAs in the Baltic Sea can greatly help to establish maritime spatial plans that are coherent across borders, eventually leading to greater efficiencies for managing our activities at sea and improving the state of the sea.”

There are other important areas in the Baltic Sea that are not part of an EBSA, such as the Bornholm Deep, which is the main spawning site for the critical eastern Baltic cod stock.

Read more about EBSAs and the decision at HELCOM´s homepage.