May 2020

Non-indigenous species (NIS) monitoring is to address all biotic communities as NIS may belong to any taxonomic group and be found in various man-made as well as natural habitats. There has not been a monitoring programme to target especially NIS in the Baltic Sea but presently observations have been collected from various surveys and programmes in place.

There have however been several gaps. Within the Interreg Baltic Sea Region project COMPLETE a proposal of a monitoring programme on NIS has been now drafted, taking into consideration all the work previously conducted. The drafted programme proposes to utilize observations of NIS available from the present programmes: HELCOM COMBINE (biological monitoring), HELCOM/OSPAR JHP (port surveys), ICES BITS and other fish surveys as well as eRAS (Rapid Assessment Surveys), and to complement them with additional monitoring methods and surveys. New monitoring guidelines have been developed in COMPLETE and added to the draft NIS monitoring manual. These include guidelines to monitor marinas, to collect mobile and sessile epifauna from the coastal hard substrate habitats, to collect citizen observations on easily identifiable NIS via web portals and 3 protocols to collect samples from ballast water and hull fouling for molecular analyses, and to take eDNA samples for target species monitoring purposes. These are possible additional methods to improve NIS monitoring and fill in the present gaps that can be used by Contracting Parties for monitoring NIS in line with the proposal on a framework for integrated monitoring of NIS. The draft NIS monitoring programme was presented for the HELCOM State and Conservation meeting in May 2020. Contracting parties have time to comment the proposed programme until 11 June after which an expert meeting will be held 17 June to discuss the possible amendment needs. The finalized NIS monitoring manual will be submitted for acceptance to the next State and Conservation meeting in 2021.

Text and photos: Maiju Lehtiniemi / Finnish Environment Institute


Taking benthos (=organisms dwelling in or near the bottom) samples with a box corer at the port of Turku, Finland.


Traps for collecting mobile organisms for monitoring purposes.

Related links:

 Presentation given by Maiju Lehtiniemi on behalf of the COMPLETE project at the HELCOM State and Conservation meeting: https://portal.helcom.fi/meetings/STATE%20-%20CONSERVATION%2012-2020-740/Documents/COMPLETE_NIS%20monitoring%20manual.pdf

 Draft HELCOM monitoring programme on NIS as presented by the COMPLETE project: https://portal.helcom.fi/meetings/STATE%20-%20CONSERVATION%2012-2020-740/MeetingDocuments/3MA-13-Rev.1%20Draft%20HELCOM%20monitoring%20programme%20on%20NIS.pdf

 All meeting documents of HELCOM State and Conservation at the HELCOM Meeting Portal: https://portal.helcom.fi/meetings/STATE%20-%20CONSERVATION%2012-2020-740/default.aspx