Helsinki Commission (HELCOM)

Harmonized high quality sea surveying for the Baltic Sea region

Maritime shipping is international and does not stop at borders. That is why nautical information also crosses borders. To ensure that the sea is also surveyed in an internationally coordinated manner, the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission - Helsinki Commission (HELCOM for short) already decided in 2001 to harmonise the sea surveying of the main shipping routes in the Baltic Sea and the approaches to the most important ports (HELCOM Copenhagen Declaration). The full title of the agreement is: Declaration on the safety of navigation and emergency capacity in the Baltic Sea Area.

As a result, a working group of the Baltic Sea Hydrographic Commission (BSHC) of the International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO) has drawn up a programme which for the first time provides for a harmonised and comprehensive investigation of the main shipping routes in the Baltic Sea. This was implemented on the basis of Special Publication 44 of the IHO (S44). Since 2003, the measurements have been carried out as agreed.

Since then, the cooperation has been continuously expanded. The status of the surveys can be viewed on the HELCOM website. In the meantime, it no longer only comprises the main routes (category I), but also the secondary routes and other maritime areas (categories II and III).

In certain cases, even the survey areas are exchanged between neighbouring countries. For example, Germany surveys the entire Kadet channel including the Danish part (marked green in the graph). Denmark also surveys the German part (marked blue in the graph) in the area to the northeast.

Baltic Sea map of the areas within the Kadet Trench surveyed by German and Danish services respectively HELCOM – Kadet Trench