The IMO decision to designate the Baltic Sea as an Annex IV “special area” in 2011 was based on a proposal by Baltic Sea coastal countries submitted in 2010, developed as a follow up of a commitment included in the 2007 HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP), as a measure to meet the country, and basin, specific nutrient pollution reduction goals.
The BSAP nutrient pollution goals are to be reached with measures taken within all relevant fields of human activity including agriculture, emissions to air from land and sea traffic as well as sewage, both from municipalities and industry facilities on land as well as from passenger ships.
In anticipation of the 2011 IMO decision the 2010 HELCOM Ministerial Meeting set up a Baltic Sea Cooperation Platform on sewage PRFs. The latter has during 2010-2013 involved the shipping industry, technology providers, ports and national authorities for discussions on outstanding issues around the improvement of sewage PRFs in the region. The outcomes have been reported to the HELCOM MARITIME Group where the competent national administrations of the Baltic Sea countries have provided their input.
By 2013 the work of this Cooperation Platform resulted in the document “HELCOM Interim Guidance on technical and operational aspects of sewage delivery to port reception facilities” which has been submitted to the HELCOM 2013 Ministerial Meeting for adoption. The Guidance outlines current best practices as well as outstanding issues in terms of PRF improvements.
In 2015, a report has been released to provide information on port reception facilities for sewage (PRFs) and their use by international cruise ships in the Baltic Sea area during 2014.
Cruise ships operating in the Baltic Sea, their length of sea voyages as well as frequency and duration of port visits are described in detail. Also the ports visited by cruise ships and the sewage facilities are covered in terms of facilities and traffic trends. The report is based on information from obligatory AIS (Automatic Identification System) position reports received from a comprehensive list of cruise ships operating in the region. It provides thus a nearly complete coverage of cruise ship movements during 2014.
Based on the analyses of ship movements, passenger capacity and port facilities, the new report helps also to clarify what the real needs of cruise traffic might be in terms of sewage management in the Baltic Sea cruise ports.