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Monitoring and Assessment Strategy


The Strategy is a common plan to monitor and assess the health of the Baltic Sea in a coordinated and cost-efficient way between all HELCOM Contracting Parties.

Application in MSP:
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Questions this practice may help answer

  • How is the good environmental status of the Baltic Sea monitored and evaluated?
  • How is cooperation organized in the Baltic Sea monitoring and evaluation process?

Implementation Context

HELCOM has agreed that the common understanding of the good environmental status of the Baltic Sea should be based on the agreed visions, goals and ecological objectives, and jointly developed quantitative targets and associated indicators as initiated with the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan and the relevant EU Directives. The shared scientific understanding and the quantification of the good environmental status should be used in policy making at the international, regional and national levels, in order to ensure that adequate decisions and necessary measures pursuing the good environmental status of the Baltic Sea are taken. For this purpose the Monitoring and Assessment Strategy has been developed.

Aspects / Objectives

  • Lay out a system which enables showing how visions, goals and objectives set for the Baltic Sea marine environment are being met;
  • Provide a system that enables linking the quality of the environment to its management;
  • Facilitate the implementation of the ecosystem approach covering the whole Baltic Sea, including coastal and open waters;
  • Enable the provision of data and information that links pressures on land, from the atmosphere, in coastal areas and at sea to their impacts on the marine environment;
  • Describe the system for coordination of monitoring activities for Baltic Sea specific issues of concern;
  • Set out the structure and time frame for the production of region-specific assessments such as comprehensive thematic and holistic assessments and more concise and more timely indicator reports and other assessment products;
  • Create a system which enables raising also general public awareness of the Baltic Sea and HELCOM actions.
  • Design a system for producing targeted assessment products for region-specific management purposes by also making use of data and information produced by Contracting Parties for other fora.



  • National monitoring programmes use the principles of the Joint Monitoring System to achieve a high degree of coordination, cooperation, sharing and harmonization.
  • The Joint Monitoring System feeds a Data Pool that is the basis for the Assessment System.
  • This system produces assessments of the health of the Baltic Sea that can be used by HELCOM countries as well as EU, observers, stakeholders, etc.

Process description

HELCOM State and Conservation works together with several international organizations to deliver and store monitoring data and information, such as

  • Co-operative Programme for the Monitoring and Evaluation of Long-range Transmission of Air Pollutants in Europe (CLRTAP/EMEP),
  • International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), 
  • European Environmental Agency (EEA),
  • International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA

Main Outputs / Results

The HELCOM Monitoring and Assessment Strategy consists of the main text of the Strategy and four Attachments which are an integral part of the Strategy. The attachments describe the HELCOM Joint Coordinated Monitoring System, HELCOM Data and Information Strategy, HELCOM Assessment System and HELCOM Subdivisions of the Baltic Sea. Furthermore The general principles of the Strategy that relate to coordinated monitoring have been translated into concrete specifications and requirements through the HELCOM Monitoring Manual. The Monitoring Manual provides information on existing monitoring programmes and their links to indicators developed to assess progress towards Good Environmental Status (GES).


Because of the specific intuitional context and cooperation the strategy is not easily transferrable to other regions. However when other Regional cooperation organisations develop their own Monitoring and Assessment Strategy a similar approach can be used in the development phase.

Responsible Entity

Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission 
- Helsinki Commission

Katajanokanlaituri 6 B, 3rd floor

FI-00160 Helsinki

Phone: +358 207 412 649

E-mail: (helcom[dot]secretariat[at]helcom[dot]fi)