Saving the Black Sea

Issue 8, June 2005

Credits && Acknowledgements

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Official Publication of the Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution and the
GEF Ecosystems Recovery Project

In this issue:

Towards a new European Thematic Strategy on the Protection and Conservation of the Marine Environment [>>]

EC Assistance to the Black Sea Commission [>>]

BSC and UNEP Take Action Against the Marine Litter [>>]

The Implementation of the Black Sea Strategic Action Plan – A Bulgarian Perspective [>>]

Turkey Implements the Black Sea Strategic Action Plan [>>]

Protection and rehabilitation of the Black and Azov Seas in Ukraine [>>]

Black Sea Contingency Plan to the Protocol on Cooperation in Com-bating Pollution of the Black Sea by Oil and Other Harmful Sub-stances in Emergency Situations [>>]

Cooperation between Black Sea and Baltic Sea Experts [>>]

Black Sea GIS [>>]

Ukraine – Key Events in Environ-mental Management [>>]

Georgian Black Sea is important wintering habitat of cetaceans  [>>]

Results of EuropeAid Project 2002 – 2004 in Russian Federation [>>]

The Black Sea "Shell Palace” [>>]

Black Sea Action Day [>>]

ICZM Progress in Romania [>>]

Black Sea Biodiversity and Landscape Conservation [>>]

International Black Sea Day: an Event for the Whole Public [>>]

From Black to Blue: A Sea Being Saved [>>]

Towards a new European Thematic Strategy on the Protection and Conservation of the Marine Environment

A European Perspective for the Black Sea

In the beginning of the third millennium the anthropogenic pressure on the marine environment reached unprecedented values. Providing the resources for numerous important sectors of the economy, such as commercial fishing, oil and gas exploration, shipping and receiving huge amount of nutrients discharges, dangerous chemicals and also physically degraded by the sand extraction and dredging, it is threatened by loss of biodiversity or negative changes in its structure, contamination of the water and the sea bed by hazardous substances, hypoxia zones and loss of habitats.

These threats have been well recognized and a lot of measures to improve the situation have been proposed and implemented in the field of policy development, legislation and management practices. But for the time being the sector-by-sector approach still prevails and the need to integrate the relevant policies and programs for action at the strategic level becomes obvious.

The development of a draft for a new Thematic Strategy on the Protection and Conservation of the Marine Environment by the EC has to respond to the increasing need of an integrated approach to the problem. This Strategy should take into account all pressures and threats on the marine ecosystems and habitats in order to define the environmental and development objectives and outline the set of relevant and cost-effective measures for the sustainable development of the European marine and coastal areas. Its implementation will allow future generations to enjoy safe, clean, biologically diverse, healthy and productive oceans and seas.

The Draft Strategy is a result of a long consultative process taking onboard all stakeholders. It started officially in 2002 with a Communication entitled “Towards a Strategy to Protect and Conserve the Marine Environment” presenting the approach of the European Commission to the development of the document. Based on the analysis of the pressure and response of the marine environment and identifying the needs of knowledge and expertise the Communication presented a work program to build the Strategy. What is particularly important for the Black Sea was that starting from the very beginning of the process the Strategy was addressed to not only to the European Commission itself and the EU Member States, but it also extended an invitation to the Candidate Countries and all other countries bordering the EU oceans and seas. All relevant stakeholders were also invited and particular role in the process was given to the regional fisheries and marine protection conventions and agreements and their respective executive bodies.

The development of the draft by the EC was supported by a network of organizations and experts working within a specific working group structure coordinated by the EC DG Environment. The following groups were established:

The outputs of these working groups were further discussed by the Interorganizational Consultative Forum, an unique body incorporating the executive secretaries or directors of all relevant regional conventions and agreements. Two big stakeholders’ conferences were held as well.

The Strategy marks out the understanding that the marine environment should be preserved and the marine resources utilized in conformity with the principles of sustainable development and applying the ecosystem approach. It states that “we and the future generations can enjoy and benefit from biologically diverse and dynamic oceans and seas that are safe, clean, healthy and productive.” Having in mind this common objective, the Strategy recognizes the specific character and important differences of the European oceans and seas, ranging from oceanographic and hydrological parameter, physical and chemical features, threats to the environment and the way it responds, economic and social conditions of the littoral states. This is why the strategy puts the emphasize on the need to be implemented at the most appropriate level – this of the marine regions, based on their ecological characteristics and taking into account the existing international legally binding agreements and institutional structures. A lot of attention is given to the cooperation with the non-EU member states and the regional bodies for the protection of oceans and seas.

The Strategy sets out the following general objectives and actions to be taken in achieving them:

Achieving the ambitious objectives of the Strategy will probably require the appropriate legal grounds. One of the possibilities for that is the adoption of a new Marine Frame-work Directive that is applicable to all European marine waters under the jurisdiction of the EU Member States. Such legally binding documents might be the instrument needed to protect and improve the quality of the ocean and seas’ eco-systems, providing for achievement of good environmental status of the marine waters, identifying the regions for action planning and implementation units.

The Directive might set out the out-line of the regional implementation plans to be real frameworks for the adaptive management of all activities that impact the marine environment within the regions.

The new Marine Strategy is expected to be a fundamental building block of the future comprehensive European Maritime Policy that is expected to aim at “development of thriving maritime economy and the full potential of sea-base activity in an environmentally sustainable manner.”

Plamen Dhzadzhev

Executive Director,
Permanent Secretariat
Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution