The Europaen Commission The Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution
BSC LogoEC Logo

Report Contents

List of Tables List of Figures

Final ¨Diagnostic Report¨ to guide improvements to the regular reporting process on the state of the Black Sea environment, August 2010

2002 - 2007

Diagnostic Report to guide improvements to the regular reporting process on the state of the Black Sea environment, August 2010

Executive Summary

The "Diagnostic Report" project aims to identify the achievements and gaps in the existing BSIMAP and BSIS, to assess the suitability of data for calculation of BSC and EEA indicators, and the relevance of the monitoring system in the BS region to meet the requirements of regional commitments, stipulated in BS legal/policy documents and of the MSFD. Hence, the gap analyses allows identifying areas where further efforts are needed to improve the monitoring and reporting systems in the Black Sea region so that the assessments of pressures, state and impacts could serve in decision-making in the region and fit into Pan-European assessments based on EEA agreed set of indicators, taking into consideration ("forward looking") also the wider approach envisaged in the Annexes I and III of the MSFD.

The examination of BSIMAP, overview of data compiled in the BSIS and outside, and possibilities for indicator-based reporting analyses were undertaken by the BSC PS in a consultation with BS experts. Many scientific institutions in the region contributed to the checks of availability of data outside of the official reporting flow, submitting often full inventories of cruises and meta data on parameters of interest. Generalized requirements (benchmarks for the analyses) to the data and monitoring system have been formulated on the base of EEA methodologies for indicators calculation and on specific needs to meet the obligations of the MSFD in EU-member states.

In total, information about 20 major data-holders, 30 important projects which carried out cruises and/or produced data outside of BSIS and 30 observation systems operating in the Black Sea area has been compiled. Meta data (outside of BSIS) were reported by 15 Institutes, some of them provided full inventories for nutrients, Chl, macroalgae and contamination of biota. The information provided by BS Institutes was further supplemented with the help of extensive Internet search (publications, on-line data sets, GIS, etc.). All collected data/information (BSIS, BSIMAP and outside of them reported by Institutions) were analysed and cross-tables were produced showing availability of datasets in question and their suitability to calculate indicators. A summary of suitability of Black Sea data (of BSIS and external data sources) for calculation of BSC and EEA indicators and MSFD descriptors was prepared in a special table and conclusions were drawn (see below).

Indicator name / type BSC indicators EEA-CSI MSFD-GES descriptors Suitability of BS data according to:
BSIS Other data sources
NO3+NO2 (S) Y Y Y (D.5) Y Y
PO4 (S) Y Y (D.5) Y Y
N/P (S)    Y   Y Y
Chlorophyll-a (S) Y Y Y (D.5) Not enough data, limited only reporting to 1-2 States  Y Need to be tested
Ocean color in support of Chl-a (S) N N N N     Y Analyses needed, effort to further develop algorithms, verification by ground-trith data To be further discussed and tested
Hypoxic situations, expansion of zones of hypoxia (I) Y N Y (D.5,D.6,D.7)  Limited data available Could be tested Y   Data available Could be tested
Harmful algal blooms (I) N N Y (D.5) Considered. Needs further expert work on phytoplankton Y
Primary Production   N N Y (D.5) N   Considered.Limited information Needs further expert work
HSs in biota (S) Y Y Y (D.8,D.9) N Considered. Very lmited data. Considered. Limited data.
HSs in sediments (S) Y Y? Y (D.8) N Still can be tested with few data sets already available for more than 5 yrs.    Limited data.    
Biological effects of HS (I) N N Y (D.8) Not yet considered Not yet considered
Discharge of oil from refineries and offshore installations (P) N Y N   N  
Illegal discharges of oil at sea (P) Y Y N    NPoor reporting. Considered by contract with EMSA for provision of satellite images. N  Poor reporting 
Accidental oil spills from shipping (P) Y Y N Y   Y
Shipping density (P) Y N N Y Y
Loads: Inputs of nutrients and HSs from direct (point) sources (P) Y N Y (D.5) Considered for Hot Spots and Rivers Y
Marine Litter: Amount/composition/sources N N Y (D.10) N Considered. Not as regular monitoring. An assessment was made.
Biomass of macroalgae Y N Y (D.1,D.5,D.6) YLimited data. Y
Biodiversity: species composition / number of species / species richness Y N (species diversity only) Y(D.1,D.5,D.6) YLimited data Y
Macroalgae Distribution Y N Y(D.1,D.5,D.6) YLimited data Y
Seagrasses  N Y?   N Y
NIS/IAS  Y N Y (D.2) Y Y
Designated Protected Areas Y Y   Y Y
Threatened and protected species Y Y   Y Y
Fishing fleet capacity / fishing effort (P) Y Y N Y Y
Fish stock biomass (S) and its sub-indicators Y Y Y (D.3) Y Y
Fish catches / biomass Y Y Y (D.3) Y Y
Total landings  Y     Y Y
Fishing mortality Y N Y (D.3) Y(see Annex ıv) Y
Spawning Stock Biomass  Y N Y (D.3) Y Y
Aqua. Production  Y N N Y Y
SST (surface water temperature) N N N Y Y
SLR (sea level rise) Y* N N * as ICZM indicator, limited data  Y
Northward movement of species N Y N N Y
Total number of Med sps /expansion area N N N N Y(see Annex v)
Invasive Species diversity and abundance Y N Y(D.1,D.5,D.6) Limited data Y
Bathing water: Chemical and microbiological parameters Y Y N  Very limited data. Y

On the basis of the numbers of BS indicator that exist in relation to the EEA and MSFD "needs" the following concusions were drawn. Among the eutrophication indicators (inorganic nutrients, chlorophyll and N/P ratio), N/P is not specifically reported to the BSC but as a generic indicator it can be easily derived from BSIS. Chlorophyll is poorly reported to the BSC and the data cannot be used for a regional assessment. However, outside of BSIS Chlorophyll data are available and suitable to build trends and maps of spatial distributon. Nutrients data in BSIS is suitable to trace trends and spatial distribution in coastal waters, but not in the open-sea.

Expansion of hypoxia zones (BSC and MSFD indicator) can not be traced based on BSIS data, however, data are available in the region.

Harmful algal blooms (MSFD indicator) are regularly studied in the Black Sea, the BSIS data are not enough to support this indicator, however, external data are sufficient for regional assessments. Primary production (MSFD indicator) is not regularly studied in the Black Sea to build statistically significant trends or spatial distributions. There are no data in BSIS, and outside of BSIMAP different methods are used to measure primary production, therefore the data are not suitable for comparisons. IBSS-Sevastopol developed equations to calculate primary production from Chlorophyll, specifically for the Black Sea. The method should be verified by other Institutes.

Hazardous substances in biota, sediments (BSC, EEA, MSFD indicators) and their effects (MSFD indicator) are studied in the Black Sea sporadically, the data are not sufficient for regional assessments yet.

Discharge of oil from refineries and offshore installations (EEA indicator) is not reported to the BSC, there is no information on the availability of data in the region. Illegal discharges of oil from ships (BSC, EEA indicator) are considered, EMSA provides satellite images in case of suspected oil spill, however, verification of spills (aerial surveillance, for instance) is still poorly provided by states.

Loads (BSC, MSFD) are well reported to the BSC, data are sufficient for hot spots and rivers. Marine Litter (MSFD) is not a component of the BSIMAP, data outside of BSIS are available, however, assessments are possible for ML on the coast, but not in the Sea and on its bottom.

Most of the BSC Biodiversity indicators are also EEA and MSFD indicators, however, the data supporting those indicators for macroalgal communities in the BSIS are limited, for seagrassess not reported, outside of BSIS available and suitable for building indicators. MPAs are well reported to the BSC, together with threatened and protected species.

Those BSC Fishery indicators which appear also as EEA and MSFD indicators are well reported to the BSC, however, stock assessments for most of the fish species are in need for harmonization.

The EEA indicator "North-ward movement of species" is not reported to the BSC, however, scientific studies in the region are available. Invasive species diversity and abundance (BSC, MSFD) are poorly reported to the BSC. Data outside of BSIS are suitable for the indicators calculation.

Bathing waters data are regularly collected in all Black Sea states, data outside of BSIS are sufficient for tracing compliance with established standards (not yet harmonized in the region).

The report describes the structure of BSIMAP, which was conceptually developed in 2001 and the modifications introduced through the years. National monitoring activities in the Black Sea states are supported by Ministries of Environment. Other Ministries, such as Ministry of Education, Agriculture, Transport and Academies of Science support problem-oriented monitoring in the frames of different projects. Ministries of Agriculture are responsible for fisheries investigations (stock assessments, catches, fishing fleets, etc.) and Ministries of Transport support/supervise most of the investigations related to environment safety aspects of shipping.

The status of national monitoring systems was thoroughly analysed and existing problems were identified against the requirements of the BSIMAP and MSFD. The analysis of identified datasets and BS monitoring/observation systems revealed gaps in regularity and data coverage, gaps in the national monitoring systems in terms of organization/strategy and compliance with commitments, problems with data accessibility, compatibility and suitability to produce indicators.

The major gaps were listed as follow:

  1. the monitoring is often not integrated (carried out by different Institutes, which do not synchronize their field work);
  2. recommended frequency of observations (identified in BSIMAP in line with WFD) is not always observed;
  3. mandatory parameters are often not covered;
  4. open-sea stations are missing no agreed stations for a regular monitoring;
  5. reference stations mainly missing or not specified as such, except Romania;
  6. long-term time series data stations lack special attention and permanent financial support;
  7. poor coordination between responsible authorities;
  8. poor financial assistance, in general;
  9. regional dimension absent;
  10. BSIMAP stations are mainly coastal, very few marine stations are monitored;
  11. monitoring does not use much automated systems and other modern tools for observations;
  12. lack of harmonization (especially in fisheries).


What are the reasons for those gaps in BSIMAP? The main reasons can be listed, as follow:

  • Poor financial assistance;
  • National strategy does not foresee the monitoring as integrated;
  • Lack of expertise, lack of equipment, old research vessels;

Recommendations to filling the identified gaps in monitoring and reporting have been elaborated, including proposals on development of new indicators, how to improve the existing EEA indicator specifications to make them more suitable for Black Sea assessments, on harmonization of GES identification and wider assessments in EU and non-EU member states, and others.

The main recommendations given for the monitoring and reporting improvement are:

  1. Creation of network of reference sites
  2. Expanding the BSIMAP toward open sea
  3. Revision of the existing BSIMAP to exclude parameters considered as non-relaible in routine monitoring and inclusion of new parameters (for instance, for tracing of climate change)
  4. Further harmonization of methodologies
  5. Introduction of new observation techniques and modern equipment
  6. Initiation of regional cruises for transboundary environment problems assessments
  7. Actions to be undertaken to attend the insufficiently studied domains such as:
  • Fish and other marine living resources stock assessments in a harmonized way
  • Cetaceans surveys
  • Marine Litter in the sea
  • Contamination of sediments and biota, effects of HS
  • Habitats mapping, biodiversity assessments, etc.

Therefore, major targets in further development of the Black Sea monitoring to fit into Pan-EU assessments should forsee improvements in:

  • Frequency of observations in line with WFD and MSFD (so far not always sustained properly, as mentioned above).
  • Proper geographical coverage include open sea.
  • Sustain stations and transects with long-terms observations
  • Networks development, mandatory parameters covered.
  • Harmonization inter-comparison exercises, further development of guidelines, common understanding of GES, indicators, etc.
  • Quality control and assurance sustainable mode of implementation.

The supporting activities recommended should focus on:

  • Utilization of the capacities of all Institutes dealing with monitoring in the region (not only those, which are officially nominated by the Ministries so far). Bi-lateral and multi-lateral agreements to be developed.
  • Avoiding overlapping of activities and efforts as, mentioned, often two or more Institutes undertake observations in the same area without proper coordination (best example is the Kerch accident 11 November 2007[1]).
  • Partnership with international organizations EEA, IMO, ESA, EMSA, HELCOM, utilizing their experience.
  • Capacity building regular trainings, bringing best available practices to the region, strengthening the collaboration between different authorities engaged in monitoring, further development of inter-ministerial mechanism, etc.
  • Sharing - The data flow and dissemination of information (prepared reports based on data collected) within BSC as well as from BSC should be transparent, two-way and easily accessible by everybody. It is particularly important to develop further the Black Sea Information System and make its data and metadata services accessible online on the BSC website (which is in line with INSPIRE directive), and to make sure that the special information needs of stakeholders are met by providing different products. The work carried out within the BS monitoring (at least meta data) should be transparent, interact with and enjoy the confidence of all the stakeholders, including local authorities, industry, nongovernmental organizations, expert institutions, public and other bodies.

Crucial issues in the improvement of BSIMAP and BSIS in the Black Sea region are the better coordination between authorities involved, less complicated organization and a strategy for integrated monitoring developed at the national level, using best available examples (e.g. the system in Romania) and assuring sustainable financial assistance for better planning of activities.