A+ a- Text version Print version
Search HELCOM:


The Helsinki Commission adopted the following data and information strategy of the Helsinki Commission at its 25th Meeting in 2004 (paragraph 3.11 (LD 9)). HELCOM HOD 18/2006 has amended the policy on data release (paragraph 2.30 (LD 31)).


The HELCOM data and information activities should make possible reliable assessment of the emissions and inputs of nutrients and hazardous substances into the Baltic Sea and their effects in the marine environment, including natural background forcing. The HELCOM data and information activities should facilitate

  • decision making of the Contracting Parties in environmental management,
  • collaboration with other organizations in the field of environmental monitoring and assessment, e.g. the European Environment Agency (EEA), the Barcelona, OSPAR and Black Sea Commissions, the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme and the European Air Pollution Monitoring Programme(EMEP), UNEP Global Marine assessment, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and
  • access of the general public to environmental information.

The framework is set out in Articles 16, 17, 18 and 24 of the Helsinki Convention.

The HELCOM data activities should be harmonized with other international organizations and the European Union systems, to the fullest extent possible in order to avoid duplication of reporting by the HELCOM Contracting Parties.

Basic activities in the HELCOM data and information management system should include:

  • using electronic format for data exchange;
  • presenting data and information in suitable ways for indicator reports as well as thematic and integrated assessments to support policy- and decision-making. This would also include maintaining and updating a bibliography on scientific literature about the Baltic Sea and its environment.

Collection of data

HELCOM leads and coordinates marine-related emission-, input- and environmental monitoring and assessment activities in the Baltic Sea Area.

HELCOM monitoring programmes rely on data derived from publicly funded monitoring programmes by the Contracting Parties.

HELCOM follows and influences relevant international marine-related monitoring and assessment programmes at European and global levels. The main goals of the environmental monitoring and assessment efforts of HELCOM are to:

  • identify and quantify the anthropogenic inputs to, and their effects in the Baltic Sea; identify and quantify the effects of anthropogenic marine activities, such as e.g. dredging and other maritime activities;
  • identify and quantify the changes in the environment as a result of regulatory actions;
  • assess and report on the state and the changes in the marine environment as a basis for decisions on regulatory measures/actions to further improve the marine environment;
  • assess natural variations as background forcing of the ecosystem.

In order to fulfil the goals, HELCOM has the following monitoring programmes which will be updated when appropriate:

  • Airborne Pollution Load Compilation (PLC-Air)
  • Waterborne Pollution Load Compilation (PLC-Water)
  • Cooperative Monitoring in the Baltic Environment (COMBINE)
  • Monitoring of radioactivity (MORS)
  • Surveillance of deliberate illegal oil spills

Data handling

The HELCOM databases will be handled by independent data centre(s), preferably thematic data centres, working on contractual agreement with HELCOM. The data centres will be responsible for ensuring that

  • adequate reporting formats and procedures are prepared and updated, as necessary,
  • data submissions are subjected to relevant quality control procedures,
  • adequate inventories and compilations are prepared of the data sets, and
  • HELCOM data product requirements are met.

The role of national institutions as contributors of data, and capacity building at the national level should be given a priority attention.

Release of data

All HELCOM monitoring data may be released by the data consultant after necessary quality-control procedure. When the Contracting Parties have not flagged the data with any restriction in the HELCOM databases it should be considered open. This shall not apply to meteorological or hydrographic data, if the release of that data is restricted by national legislation or national agreement.

Access to data contained in documents presented to HELCOM or its subsidiary bodies can be restricted.

Release of information

All HELCOM assessment products are freely accessible.