The Europaen Commission The Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution
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Report Contents

Acknowledgements 1. Introduction 2 Challenges 3 The Basis for Cooperative Action 4 Policy Actions Conclusions
Annex I. Basis for Cooperative Measures Annex II. Policy Actions Annex III. LBS Report 2007: Land Based Pressures on the Black Sea Annex VI. Nationally Reported Date Annex V. Black Sea Monitoring And Assessment Program
List of Tables List of Figures

Implementation of the Strategic Action Plan for the Rehabilitation and Protection of the Black Sea

2002 - 2007

Implementation of the Strategic Action Plan for the Rehabilitation and Protection of the Black Sea


All principles stated in the SAP 1996 are observed in the Black Sea states. Undoubtedly, The Black Sea coastal States share a common desire for the sustainable management of the natural resources and biodiversity of the Black Sea and recognize their role and responsibility in conserving the global value of these resources.

According to the BS SAP 2008 the main challenges in the Black Sea region still remain unchanged: eutrophication, chemical pollution, including oil, biodiversity change, including alien species introduction and decline of living resources. The BS SAP 1996 implementation success was measured against the progress achieved in the region in tackling these major problems. 

As before, the majority of underlying causes of nutrient pollution/eutrophication in the Black Sea are shared with those of chemical pollution and are grouped into five main categories, based around major sources:

Since 2001 Black Sea Integrated Monitoring Program has been adopted and Black Sea Information System developed. The main purpose of the BSIS and BSIMAP is to provide data for ‘state of the environment’ reporting, ‘impact assessments’ of major pollutant sources, ‘transboundary diagnostic analysis’ and SAP implementation reports (BSSAP process). The BSIMAP contains optional and mandatory parameters, seeking to maximize the use of historical data from previously established monitoring sites for trend analysis, supported by new additional sites to improve the assessment of the current chemical/ecological status of the Black Sea.

In 1996-2000 the focus in the region was placed on the identification of ‘point sources’, with a major attention on direct municipal/industrial discharges as sources of eutrophication and pollution. In 2001-2006 better understanding of river loads was achieved, with additional studies on likely contributions of different emissions to river loads. The impact of diffuse sources was recognized during the last yeas and serious attempts to address them came into place already in the region.

To tackle eutrophication and chemical pollution relevant national legislation is in place, new programs, plans and projects were developed after 2001, including river basin management plans. Harmonization of river monitoring strategies in the region is well advanced.

Of the 50 hot-spots originally identified 14 can be considered to have been adequately addressed in terms of required capital investments or a re-assessment of the impacts (pollution loads) discharged from the sites. Additionally, projects for many new points with different scope (WWTPs, waste management, reception facilities etc.) have been configured and included in the DABLAS list of projects or prioritized in national investment plans.

The number of Port Reception Facilities increased in the region since 2001. However, outdated storage and treatment technology is still in place at some ports, providing only partial treatment at best. The lack of PRF for deballasting and emptying bilges (from a chemical pollution perspective) is an issue. There is also a problem of poor enforcement of regulations in shipping – the illegal discharges are of serious concern. At present there is no effective monitoring and intervention plan for pollution from ships, without which enforcement of existing regulations is likely to remain very weak. The need to establish a harmonised fee/cost recovery system on ship-generated waste in the Black Sea region is well recognised.

A special Vessel Traffic Oil Pollution Monitoring System has been developed, however, it needs regionally agreed AIS data exchange and further development of the Back-tracking component. Besides, the regional preparedness in emergency situations and the safety of navigation have been greatly advanced. Different courses and workshops have been organised, Contingency Plan and Annexes developed, Guidelines for oil spills reporting and exercises drafted and agreed. The first regional DELTA exercise took place combining oil spill preparedness and search and rescue operations. Regional SAR training course project proposal has been drafted.

In some of the Black Sea countries there is either a lack or poor enforcement of environmental protection regulations in agriculture. The adoption of best agricultural practice, recognized in the new SAP2008 should improve matters in the future, even if it hasn’t done so yet. The widespread move to smaller-scale private farming has diminished government control and it is difficult to effectively assess the input of nutrients and pollutants from agriculture in the Black Sea Region. There is a regional legacy from the over application of agro-chemicals, so residues of historically-applied pesticides/herbicides are still being exported to the Sea from catchments; and stores of out-dated and highly toxic agro-chemicals are still thought to exist on some farms. However, the monitoring during the last years showed very low concentration of pesticides in the Black Sea waters, usually bellow the detection limit. Occasional appearance of local patches with a very high concentration of pesticides is usually related to extreme events (for instance, floods in 2005). Besides, the level of pesticides in bottom sediments still remains high almost in all coastal waters of the Sea, though with a decreasing trend in comparison with the 1990s. In general, the pollution by pesticides could be considered as an ‘old’ one (due to low part of DDT and lindane in comparison with its metabolites), in other words it is not caused be recently used pesticides.

Serious advancements were achieved or initiated in the Black Sea coastal states at national and regional levels in: Capacity-building and training of marine scientists; Evaluations of major marine systematic (biological) groups in each of the BS countries, using the latest IUCN criteria and guidelines for application at the regional level;  Mapping of habitats, migratory routes, spawning areas, nursery grounds, etc.; Enforcement of habitat- and ecosystem- oriented approach to biodiversity management. Regular update of List of Commercially Protected Species, Red Lists, Exotic Species and Habitats of Black Sea importance is being undertaken. The latter serves as a tool for conservation management at the regional level. Other important achievements are the increased number and area of coastal and marine protected areas, improving management strategies to prevent the introduction of new invasive species, targeting the priority vectors of introduction – ships (ballast water) and aquaculture. Monitoring systems for early detection of alien species, especially in “hot-spots” – ports, aquaculture areas are in place in some BS states, though based on a voluntary or project basis.

In Decline of Living Resources unsustainable/destructive fishing and harvesting practices, poaching, lack of a common and effective monitoring system of fishing activities around the Black Sea and lack of legally binding document are still the greatest bottlenecks in the region to achieve sustainable exploitation of commercially important species. Valuable commercial species are not yet recovered. The highly variable stock dynamics and the lack of effective control over the fisheries make stock collapses quite likely in future. 

The legally binding document in fishery, drafted in the early 1990s, is still not finalized though many times redrafted. Further negotiations are needed to reach a political agreement on the nature of the document -Protocol to the Bucharest Convention or self-standing Convention. Harmonized methodology for Stock Assessment has been regionally agreed only for Anchovy. The next step in regional cooperation is the finalization of the stock assessment methodology for turbot. 

National legislation/policy tools in the fisheries sector is in place in all states.  Complete ban and periodic ban on commercial fishing is applicable. Total allowable and permissible catches (TAC) are not applicable only in Turkey. Minimum admissible size, prohibited fishing gears and allowable mesh size for nets are also applicable in all the countries whereas information on fishing free zones needs further clarification and improvement. National Strategic Plan for Fishing and Aquaculture is available in Bulgaria and Romania for 2007-2013 and they implement the European Common Fisheries Policy. Release of young commercial fishes into the Black Sea is in place in Bulgaria and was up to 2002 in Turkey. Aquaculture is well developed in all states and it is expected to reduce the stress on natural populations.  

Following the provisions of the BS SAP Chapter III C Sustainable Human Development the Black Sea coastal states introduced compulsory EIA procedures and rules developed under appropriate national legislation. SEA (Ref. SEA Protocol, is also being considered by most of the countries where efficiently applied only in two European States at present.  In Ukraine SEA is explicitly written in the Law on Ecological Expertise and includes not only programs or plans but also Laws

Integrated Coastal Zone Management was recognised as a major principle in the BSSAP1996 and received a new momentum in the updated BS SAP 2008. However, despite of the existing already legislation in Bulgaria, Romania and Georgia, this kind of management is not always considered in practice. Extensive construction, erosion, deforestation and destruction of coastal habitats are observed along the coasts of the Black Sea in certain areas. Black Sea ICZM Strategy is drafted, however its adoption needs to be accelerated. ICZM spatial planning methodology was developed by the ICZM Activity Center (Russian Federation), further tested in Ukraine, Turkey and presently in Georgia, proving its vitality and usefulness and it will be wider promoted in the Black Sea coastal states and elsewhere.

Black Sea experts and scientists explicitly outlined the improved knowledge about the state of the Black Sea today supported in many cases by official national reporting of the Black Sae coastal states, namely:



1995-2000 situation

2001-2006/7 situation

Impact of eutrophication

Described in simple terms, but with no real description of status

Much clearer idea of how eutrophication impacts on biodiversity/habitat change, and of the effects of nutrient enrichment on the pelagic ecosystem and marine living resources

Quantification of nutrient levels within the Sea itself

River loads

Data absent from many rivers. Estimated of nutrient inputs to the Sea from the Istanbul Strait included

River loads are overwhelmingly the major source of nutrients to the sea

Monitoring data (and therefore load estimates) are available for the majority of rivers, but flow measurements are not available from Georgia

Annual flow data from a large proportion of River-borne loads of N and P appear to have reduced by about 30% since 1996.

A much clearer idea of nutrient source apportionment within this individual source (River loads) is now available.

No assessment of nutrient loads to the Sea through the Kerch or Istanbul straits.

Direct municipal discharges

Only modelled estimates of loads available. No specified  minimum size/volume/load of discharge

Direct municipal discharges responsible for only a very small proportion of the total nutrient load to the Black Sea.

Monitored loads available

Considerable effort made on data-checking to ensure comparability of results from individual discharges/countries

A comparison cannot be made between the 1996 and 2007 situations because of problems in equating  modelled loads to monitored loads

Direct municipal discharges responsible for only a very small proportion of the total nutrient load to the Black Sea.

Direct industrial discharges

Only modelled estimates of loads available. No specified  minimum size/volume/load of discharge

Direct industrial discharges responsible for only a very small proportion of the total nutrient load to the Black Sea.

Monitored loads available for industrial plants producing more than 1,000 m3/day.

A comparison cannot be made between the 1996 and 2007 situations because of problems in equating  modelled loads to monitored loads

Direct industrial discharges responsible for only a very small proportion of the total nutrient load to the Black Sea.

Atmospheric deposition

No estimate provided

Estimate provided for nitrogen, albeit with considerable uncertainty attached. This estimate suggests that atmospheric deposition may be responsible for a similar load of nitrogen to the Sea to that discharged via rivers

Other sources, notably agriculture

Very little information. Not considered as important sources to be tackled as part of

Much clearer idea of the contribution from diffuse sources to the Black Sea, with a far  better understanding of the contribution of agriculture to this problem


No integrated regional monitoring programme available for the Sea itself or for the nutrient sources discharging to it

Integrated monitoring programme now set up, but with a mixed response from different countries. Biological monitoring has only recently been incorporated into this programme.

A regionally coordinated chemical quality assurance scheme is in place for analysis of samples collected from within the Sea itself, but this programme does not extend to quality assurance of loads data.

Microbiological and Chemical Pollution


1995-2000 situation

2001-2006/7 situation

Microbiological pollution

Significant point source discharges.

Some national and international riverine inputs considered to be significant.

Sewage pollution considered to be a major source, but no real assessment

Solid municipal waste disposal considered to represent a problem with possible transboundary dimensions. However, no supporting information provided.

No consideration of livestock as a source

Microbiological pollution identified primarily as a significant national (rather than a transboundary) problem. No further assessment made

Land-based point source pollution

Considered only direct municipal/industrial discharges

Direct discharge assessment based on modelled data and likely to have been inaccurate

Considered only direct municipal/industrial discharges

Direct discharge assessment based on monitoring data

Improved quality assurance programmes required to allow regional comparison of pollutant load data

Legal landfills identified in most countries but no assessment of their likely contribution to pollution status

River and strait pollutant loads

Data from a large number of rivers missing, but not reported as such.

Data from a number of rivers is still not available, but the situation is improving.

Crucially, data for the Istanbul and Kerch straits has not been provided.

BOD5 still the only indicator of organic pollution  comparable at the regional level (excluding nutrients) comparable at the regional level

Provision of flow /discharge data for the estimation of riverine loads highlighted as a topic requiring attention/capital investment

Diffuse source pollution

Not included

Considered, but not assessed due to lack of information.

Agrochemicals considered an increasing problem.

Dumping activities

No official information on major dumping activities (legal or illegal) taking place in the region. It was assumed that it was taking place however, and was predominantly caused by a lack of regulation of potential dumping activities.

Any dumping except of dredged spoils is prohibited in the Black Sea. 

Illegal dumping data are not available

Data on dredging are reported but its impact is not assessed

Operational discharges (vessels)

Illegal discharge of harmful substances, especially oil, considered important, but no data presented to back up claims

Illegal discharge data available from selected ports, but the volumes recorded tend to be very low. Quality assurance concerns exist over some nationally reported data. Remote sending data of likely oil spills available for the whole sea, but these data are not ground-truthed.

Remote sensing data show that the majority of oil likely spills occur along major shipping routes, suggesting that shipping, rather than land-based oil installations have been the principal cause of concern. However, a single large spill from ships, platforms or land-based oil installations could severely impact biota and the economies of all coastal countries.

Loads assessment

Assessment incomplete. Based partly on modelled (direct discharges) and partly on measured (riverine) data

No regionally agreed list of priority pollutants for monitoring/assessment purposes

Assessment incomplete. Based on measured data

Mandatory data for monitoring and assessment agreed and approved

regionally agreed list of priority pollutants for monitoring/assessment purposes shall be improved

Status assessment of the Sea

No status assessment made

No regionally agreed monitoring programme

Preliminary status assessment made.

The BSIMAP has been in existence for 6 years now, but national data provision is variable. Additional data, however, are  available from research activities

Biodiversity change, including alien species


1995-2000 situation

2001-2006/7 situation

Loss or imminent loss of endangered species and their genomes

Focused on keystone species. These were considered to be at the center of communities which are highly characteristic of the local environment, and include threatened endemic as well as relict species.

These communities had dramatically decreased due to eutrophication caused by inflow of untreated sewage from point and non point sources and otherwise polluted rivers, hypoxia caused by eutrophication, increased turbidity, the use of inappropriate types of fishing gear, toxic pollution, over-harvesting and destruction of breeding grounds.

The Phyllophora community was considered to be 3% of the reference level on Ukrainian shelf although there was little or no quantitative data on the standing crop in 1990s.

The Cystoseira barbata community was considered to be less than 1% of reference level on Romanian and Ukrainian shelf.

The Mediterranean Mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis) was at 30 % of reference level on NWS.

Few specimens of Monk seal were left although there had been no recent comprehensive census.

List of Species of Black Sea importance adopted

Biodiversity and keystone species abundance is still a serious concern in spite of slight improvements.

The community dominated by Phyllophora nervosa has not returned to its former situation but is instead dominated by opportunistic filamentous algae. Although this is not necessarily bad it still represents a eutrophic condition, albeit less serious than that represented by the monospecific phytoplankton blooms of the 1980s. Indeed evidence suggests that transparency of the water column is sufficient to allow Phyllophora to re-establish, providing the level nutrient enrichment can be reduced.

Loss of habitats, notably wetlands and shelf areas, supporting important biotic resources

Although loss of habitats was identified as a MPP in the 1996 TDA, there is little data to support this, other than the information provided for the loss or imminent loss of endangered species (see above).

All coastal margin habitats are considered to be in a critical status in at least one country; both types of pelagic habitat (neritic and open sea) are considered critical in at least one country; and 13 of 37 types of benthic habitat are considered to be critical in at least one country. Those habitats most at risk include the neritic water column, coastal lagoons, estuaries/deltas and wetlands/saltmarshes.

Replacement of indigenous Black Sea species with exotic ones.

Introduced opportunistic settlers e.g. ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi had shown outbreaks and had caused negative effects on fish population and environment.

Some species, which had adapted to the Black Sea environment and replaced indigenous species, were being harvested as living marine resources.

It was considered that there was a risk of exportation of opportunistic settlers from the Black Sea into other seas and the introduction of other opportunistic settlers into the Black Sea in the future.

The development of effective control of ships ballast waters and fouling organisms was recommended.

Highly invasive species are recognized to have a serious impact on biological diversity. Nearly 10 % of the established alien species in the Black Sea and coastal aquatic habitats are deemed currently as highly invasive and another 16 % as moderately invasive.

Among 33 alien zooplankton species two have become central to the Black Sea ecosystem in the last 2 decades - Mnemiopsis leidyi notorious for its detrimental effect on the pelagic food web and fisheries collapse, and Beroe ovata for helping to restore the ecological balance by reducing the abundance/biomass of the former invader through selective predation on it.

The majority (68 %) of the introductions are human-mediated and only 13 % are a result of the natural expansion of species  Ship ballast waters are clearly identified as the primary vector (30 %) of alien introductions in the Black Sea, followed by aquaculture (11 %).

Between 1996 and 2005 a total of 48 new alien species were recorded, which represents over 22 % of all registered aliens. The majority belong to phytoplankton (16) and zoobenthos (15), followed by zooplankton (8), fish (5), macroalgae (3) and mammals (1). This increase in invasive aliens suggests a serious impact on the Black Sea native biological diversity, with negative consequences for human activities and economic interests.

It is still considered that not enough has been done to reduce these introductions.

Marine protected areas are established in some Black Sea coastal states

Living Resources Decline


1995-2000 situation

2001-2006/7 situation


Concerns over depleted or falling stocks of venus clam, Rapana, grey/golden mullets, sturgeons, turbot and spiny dogfish.

Haarder population expanding since its introduction in the 1970s

Mya clam unexploited, but could be in future.

Shad populations considered to be recovering.

Anchovy and horse mackerel populations believed to have partially recovered from over-fishing/Mnemiopsis invasion, but concerns over spawning areas and population age dynamics/fecundity

Whiting and sprat numbers believed to have remained high, particularly in NW Black Sea.

Not clear whether stock status was implied from catch data or whether assessments were routinely carried out. No mention of different stock assessment methodologies being used by individual countries.

Recovery of anchovies and sprat populations appear to have continued  however could vary due to natural and man-made causes

Assumed recovery of bonito reflected in huge increase in landings during 2005 but also increase in fishing fleets

Concerns remain over turbot, whiting, spiny dogfish, horse mackerel (albeit with encouraging signs in some coastal areas), clams, and mullets (native grey/golden mullet appear to be fairing less well than Pacific mullet).

Concerns remain over mussel and venus clam stocks. Mya clams still unexploited.

Catches (and export from the region) of Japanese Sea Snail have increased dramatically. Concerns over damaging harvesting practices (dredging).

Coordinated stock assessments are not undertaken by all countries and tend to be undertaken for only a small number of species. Employed methodologies vary from country to country, at the same time finally agreed for some species and will be promoted in the Black Sea


Total catches known, but no breakdown into species of commercial importance provided.

No CPUE statistics included.

Total catches known and broken down into species of commercial importance.

Catch per unit effort (CPUE) statistics included to support total catch data, since regionally agreed stock assessment methodologies just started to be developed

It is worrying that that such a large percentage (approx. 70-80%) of the total catch is made up by a single species (anchovy) and that typically over 90% of this catch is made by a single country (Turkey).   

Socio-economic factors

Some statistics included, but no real idea of the importance of marine living resources as a source of regional employment.

Importance of marine living resources as a source of regional employment highlighted

Fishing fleet status

Statistics provided on total fishing fleet (vessels >1 ton).

Total fishing fleet (vessels >12 m long) has increased Mostly due to Turkish  

Fishery regulation/ management

Fisheries management is applied individually by each coastal country. In the case of shared and migratory species, no regionally agreed system exists to adjust fishing effort to stocks (prohibition periods, minimum admissible fish length, etc)

Still poorly regulated at an international level, with regional legally binding document drafted. However, negotiations continues over the production of such a document


Aquaculture as a sector was poorly developed.

Aquaculture is still poorly developed in most of counties but Turkey, however  its  importance increases in the region

Illegal fishing

Poorly known.

The contribution of illegal fishing activities to damage/change of marine living resources is not clearly understood so far, but there is a general acceptance that this is a causative factor.

The updated SAP 2008 and background reports produced in 2007-2008, TDA 2007, SoE 2008, and this report will be used to strengthen the environmental protection in the Black Sea region and to assure further progress in the balance between the rapidly developing economy in the Black Sea coastal states and the well-being of the Sea. During the last years the Black Sea coastal states have overcome together many barriers in regional cooperation, including information, scientific and technical uncertainties, and enforcement limitations, issues of sovereignty, conflicting state and national interests, and political rivalries. They established common environmental objectives, assessment criteria and principles of management through convergence of legislative frameworks in the region on one hand and among the Danube and Black Sea regions on another.  Improvement of cooperation in science, research and public participation are obvious. The first Black Sea scientific conference took place in 2006 and these conferences will become regular at the agenda of the Black Sea Commission as a source of improved knowledge and new visions for the policy making.   International Black Sea Day became an event organised and celebrated regularly in all Black Sea coastal states. Different clean-up campaigns are in place. Other major achievements in the region can be listed as follows:

Mechanisms of cooperation were further developed not only between the Black Sea states but with many different organizations, such as EC DGEnv, ICPDR, GEF, BSEC, PABSEC, UNEP (GPA; Regional Seas), UNDP, EU JRC, HELCOM, MEDPOL and MAP, ESPOO Convention, IMO (and its GLOBALLAST Program), EEA, ACCOBAMS, OSPAR, OSCE, EMSA, GESAMP, SIDA, SMA, NGOs, private sector, etc. Memoranda of Understanding and agreements were signed with some organizations and projects. The BSC acts as observer at many regional projects and is a partner to others.

Together with the basic challenges in the region, the Black Sea coastal states paid attention to global climate change and the next Black Sea scientific Conference (2008) will be dedicated to this emerging concern.

The overall main challenge remains to increase economic prosperity without endangering the ecological recovery of the Black Sea.