The Black Sea Environment
Owing to natural factors, the diversity of species of Black Sea fauna is approximately three times lower when compared with that of the Mediterranean. Specific features of the Black Sea make it very vulnerable to disturbances of its environment and ecosystems.
Eutrophication, pollution, and irresponsible fishing resulted in an overall decline of: biological resources, the diversity of species and landscapes, and of the aesthetic and recreational values of the Black Sea, thereby bringing its ecosystems to the edge of collapse.
National efforts and regional - international cooperation in the framework of the Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution expressed in the concerted actions of the Strategic Action Plan for Rehabilitation and Protection of the Black Sea brought the first signs of recovery to the Black Sea:
- Inputs of pollution from the priority sources of pollution are decreasing
- Inputs of insufficiently treated waters are decreasing
- Number of oil spills and volume of spilled oil show decreasing trends
- Content of nutrients in the marine waters are getting lower, - phosphorus has reached the levels of 60s, although nitrogen is still higher than in 1960s
- Concentrations of trace metals, persistent organic pollutants, radio nuclides do not have a global importance and are mostly related to bottom sediments and biota that more likely are accumulated over the past
- The algae bloom are becoming less heavy and less frequent
- The biomass and abundance of Mnemiopsis leidyi has been reduced following the invasion of the Beroye ovata that feeds on this destructive species
- The abundance of fodder zooplankton is increasing
- An increase in the stocks of small pelagic fish was reported in the last couple years
Along with the first signs of the recovery of the Black Sea ecosystem, the economies of the Black Sea coastal states in transition began to recover according to the available macroeconomic indicators. Accession of Bulgaria, Romania and Türkiye to the European Union and transposition of strict European legislation is also working to benefit the Black Sea environment.
These optimistic signals shall not hinder the pursuit of existing problems:
The above changes are still in the early stages, are unstable and still far from the strategic target: that is to bring the conditions of the environment back to those that were observed in the 1960s. With any additional pressure, they can revert and the environment of the Black Sea would be endangered.
The Black Sea is still a Sea in Trouble. Algae blooms are still heavy, pollution, although localized, affects biological communities. The restoration of Zernov’s Field will take a long time if it is possible at all. Fish stocks of commercially valuable species, such as sturgeons and turbots, suffer from illegal fishing, pollution and destruction of their habitats.
The process of the recovery of the Black Sea will take a long time and will require implementation of all measures provisioned in the Black Sea Strategic Action Plan as well as future provisions.
There are gaps and lack of scientific knowledge and information on many processes and phenomena that are needed for policy and decision-making.
The sustainable development of societies and the wellbeing of the coastal population shall become priorities for the governments of the Black Sea Coastal States.
The national and international efforts of the Black Sea coastal states shall be directed at the two targets: Intermediate target: prevent the increase of pressures from human activities when transitional economies of the Black Sea coastal states begin to recover; And, Strategic target: to achieve environmental conditions in the Black Sea similar to those observed in 1960s.