The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (HELCOM) has appointed a new Executive Secretary. Rüdiger Strempel, an international lawyer by training, assumed the position on 1 August 2019.
After his appointment, Strempel highlighted; “While much has undoubtedly been achieved, there is a consensus across the region that continued relentless efforts are required to improve the ecological and environmental status of the Baltic Sea. Issues such as eutrophication, nutrient management, marine litter and addressing the effects of climate change will therefore remain high on our common Baltic Sea agenda,”
HELCOM, also known as the Helsinki Commission, led the development of the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP). This programme aims to “restore the good ecological status of the Baltic marine environment by 2021” and was adopted by all Baltic coastal states and the EU in 2007. Strempel said “The Baltic Sea Action Plan has proven to be a good tool for responding to the challenges faced by the Baltic Sea”. An update of the BSAP will be developed during his tenure.
Measurable targets and goals have been developed with regard to biodiversity, eutrophication, hazardous substances and marine activities. However, according to a 2018 HELCOM report on the implementation of the BSAP, while many agreed actions have been accomplished much work is to be done in achieving good ecological status within the remaining timeframe. Eutrophication, for example, has worsened during the previous five-year period (2012-2016) in a majority of the sea basin and fish stocks such as eel, which is also addressed in the BSAP, remains critically endangered according to the IUCN red list.
Strempel has taken over the post from Monika Stankiewicz who led the Secretariat from 2012.