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

Preface Dedication Acknowledgements Authors
Executive Summary Introduction Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Conclusions and Recommendations References
Annexes 1 - 5 Annexes 6 - 9

Marine Litter in the Black Sea Region


Chapter 5 - Scientific Information on the Marine Litter in the Black Sea

Marine Litter Report


This section of the report includes:

· scientific data on ML which are definitely scarce, and

· expert evaluation of some basic characteristics of ML pollution provided by the national consultants on base of their personal experience and understanding of the situation in their countries.


As it follows from the national reports, there were no any ML research, monitoring or assessment activities in Georgia and Romania during the last decade (1996-2005) and, obviously, before. At the same time, several institutions in Russia , Turkey and Ukraine have conducted certain ML research using quite different approaches and methods. Results of those studies are summarized below (sections 5.1.1 and 5.1.2).

No special study of ML effects (including environmental impact, public health influences, economic consequences, etc.) has been carried out in the Black Sea region till now.

5.1.1. Data on marine litter in the marine environment

A. The first attempt to estimate approximate level of ML pollution in the Black Sea marine environment has been performed in August 2002 within “Azovka- 2002” project implemented by the Brema Laboratory ( Simferopol, Ukraine ) and Institute of Ecology and Evolution ( Moscow, Russia ) [7] . The main goal of the project was to collect data on abundance and distribution of Black Sea cetaceans (dolphins and porpoises) by means of aerial surveys. Concomitant information on ML was gained in addition only, thanks to that opportunity. The obtained ML data proved useful to another project implemented at the same time by the Crimean Medical Unversity ( Simferopol). Thus, finally, the results were included in scientific report (Interdependence..., 2002) submitted to the Ministry of Public Health of Ukraine. Brief description of that research initiative is presented below.

A series of aerial surveys have been carried out during seven days within the period from 2-17 August 2002 in the Kerch Strait (890 km2, 190 km of observation effort along 13 tracklines), the contiguous southern portion of the Azov Sea (7,560 km2, 351 km, 6 tracklines), and in adjoining with the strait Black Sea shelf area not more than 200 m deep, located between Cape Chauda in Crimea, Ukraine, and Dagomys on Caucasian coast, Russia (7,960 km2, 615 km, 19 tracklines) (Fig. 5.1). The observations were conducted under favourable weather conditions (Beaufort 0-3) by means of three twin-engine high-winged superlight amphibian aircrafts ‘Chernov- 22’ (Fig. 5.2) moved along the tracklines at an altitude of 50- 200 m with a speed of 100-150 km/hr. Pairs of trained observers provided continual visual scanning of water surface from both boards of the aircraft. They were instructed to draw attention to floating ML represented by plastic bottles and bags, pieces of styrofoam, polyethylene film, etc. Polarizing sunglasses were used as needed.

Just after passing any trackline the observers recorded their cumulative appraisal of ML pollution along the trackline as follows: “ 0” – ML was not revealed, “ 1” – few ML items, and “ 2” – many ML items have been detected. Average ML scores were calculated for each trackline on base of appraisals received from both boards of observation platform, and, finally, mean values of ML pollution (VML) were estimated separately for the Kerch Strait and study areas in the Azov and Black Seas:

VML =  s1L1 + s2L2 + … + snLn · 100 km, where
 n (L1 + L2 + … + Ln)

s – average ML score estimated for each trackline surveyed,

L – length of each trackline surveyed (km),

n – number of surveyed tracklines.

  Black Sea
  Azov Sea

Fig. 5.1. Study areas surveyed in August 2002. Tracklines used for ML surveying are shown as solid lines of different thickness. The thickness of lines corresponds with average ML scores estimated for each trackline: from 0 (the most thin line) to 1,7 (the most thick line).

Moderate number of plastic ML items was detected in the Azov Sea along all tracklines surveyed. As a result, the estimated level of ML pollution in this area appeared the most significant (Table 5.1). In the Kerch Strait numerous ML sightings were concentrated in the central and south-eastern portions – mainly within the anchorage area abundant with large vessels. At the same time, in the northern and south-western parts of the strait ML was not sighted at all (see Fig. 5.1). However, the homogenized valuation of ML pollution in the Kerch Strait turned out to be almost as high as in the Azov Sea and twice as high as in the Black Sea area (see Table 5.1). In spite of this averaged outline of the north-eastern Black Sea as relatively less polluted with ML, there were some tracklines and spots between tracklines (e.g., near Anapa and Gelendzhik and in the vicinity of Feodosia) which possessed large accumulations of ML items.


Fig. 5.2. ‘Chernov- 22’ aeroplanes used for ML syrveying in August 2002 (photo by E. Nazarenko)

Table 5.1. Estimated relative values of ML pollution (aerial survey, August 2002)

Study areas Observation effort, L (km) Limits of average ML scores, s Estimated value of ML pollution (VML)
Azov Sea (southern part; 7,560 km2) 351 0.5 – 1 12
Kerch Strait (890 km2) 190 0 – 1.7 10
Black Sea (NE shelf area; 7,960 km2) 615 0 – 1.7 5

B. Quite different aerial ML surveys have been conducted in the Russian Black and Azov Seas in 2003, 2004 and 2005 by the Centre on Hydrometeorology and Environment Monitoring of the Black and Azov Seas (CHEMBAS, Sochi, Russia ) [8] . The methodology and results are described in details in the annual reports of this organization (CHEMBAS, 2004, 2005, 2006). In particular, a total of 150 and 160 days were allocated during warm period (from spring to autumn) for collecting ML data in 2004 and 2005, respectively; 10 specialists were involved in that activity every year. The study area was represented by internal and territorial (12-miles-wide) waters of the Russian Federation including 7,880 km2 of water surface in the Black Sea and 8,000 km2 – in the Sea of Azov (maps of the maritime areas under Russian jurisdiction are shown in Annex 2). Visual observations were carried out over the selected plots (strata) of the sea by means of helicopter. Observers recorded total number of solitary ML pieces and ML accumulations floating on the sea surface in each plot/stratum. In addition, they roughly estimated sizes of ML accumulations which varied widely from 1- 5 m2 to more than 100,000 m2. As a result, the data on geographical distribution, relative density, hot spots, seasonal and daily trends of floating ML were obtained. However, no precise information was collected regarding ML composition. It was indicated only that ML accumulations usually consisted of human-produced ML along with natural ML objects (e.g., wood remainders and leafage).

A total of 918 sightings of floating ML were recorded in 2004, and 949 sightings – in 2005. Typical quantitative distribution of ML sightings between different areas and study plots is shown on the diagram (Fig. 5.3). According to the data presented, the maximum number of ML sightings occurred in the southern part of the Russian Black Sea near Sochi and between Sochi and Tuapse (Psou–Loo, Loo–Magri and Magri-Inal areas). The number of sightings decreased in the northern Black Sea areas up to the southern boundary of the Kerch Strait near Cape Panagia. ML sightings in the Russian Azov Sea were relatively infrequent. Small accumulations of floating litter have been observed in the south-eastern part of this basin and in the Gulf of Taganrog (mainly in its central area along the major navigation route).

Thus, it could be tentatively assumed that the eastern Azov Sea is less polluted with ML than the north-eastern and eastern Black Sea within the territorial borders of Russia during spring, summer and autumn. However, this conclusion may be strongly biased due to different observation effort applied in different areas. In theory, these data should be carefully reconsidered in view of flight time (hours) and flight distance (linear kilometers) allocated for the surveying in each study area and stratum. Factors influencing on ML detectability (speed and altitude fluctuations of the observation platform, different weather conditions, etc.) must be taken in consideration too.


 Research areas in total  Study plots/strata within the research areas:

1 Port of Sochi  5 Tsemesskaya bay
2 Port of Tuapse  6 Port of Anapa
3 Gelendzhikskaya bay  7 Anchorage area in the Kerch Strait
4 Anchorage area near Cape Doob

Fig. 5.3. Number of ML sightings recorded in 2005 in different areas of the Russian Black and Azov Seas.

The results of those aerial surveys suggested that major quantity of ML comes to the Russian Black Sea in late spring and early summer (in May and June), while the least of ML sightings was recorded in autumn (in September and October). It was supposed that the level of ML pollution depends mainly on the level of river run-off in this area. Snowmelt floods and torrential downpours are typical for Russian Caucasus on the verge of spring and summer, and numerous mountain rivers become swollen during this season. It seems very likely that just river and rain torrents along with the washed down land-based garbage and solid waste constitute crucial sources/suppliers of ML pollution in the internal and territorial waters of Russia (Fig. 5.4). Most local rivers are situated in the southern lands of the Krasnodar Territory. That is, probably, one of possible explanations on why so many ML sightings (about 60%) were recorded in the southern coastal zone represented by Sochi–Tuapse area (see Fig. 5.3; Psou–Loo, Loo–Magri and Magri-Inal strata).


Fig. 5.4. Potential ML on the river bank, Russian Caucasus.

(photo by Y. Yurenko)

In the internal Russian waters ML usually was sighted in narrow zone along the coastline, mainly in bays and harbours, with particular trend to accumulation in semi-closed inshore areas, such as Taman Gulf, Tsemesskaya and Gelendzhikskaya bays (see Annex 2). ML also congested in artificial “traps” formed by hydroengineering constructions protruding into the sea, for example, along the 3-km-long Tuzla dam built in the Kerch Strait in 2004. In the territorial waters, ML accumulated following the streamline of the eastern Black Sea counter-clockwise current. According to known patterns of the Black Sea superficial circulation (see Fig. 1.2), it could be assumed that floating ML slowly drifts towards North-West along the Russian coast at the distance of 5- 25 km from the shore. In summertime, complying with daily breeze circulation, ML accumulations were recorded farther from the coastline in the morning than in the evening. During cold season, the dominating intensive north-eastern winds, probably, remove most floating ML from the Russian Black Sea.

C. The vessel-based line transect surveys have been carried out in 2003 for the purpose to estimate cetacean abundance and numerical values of ML pollution in the Ukrainian part of the Kerch Strait (345 km2; 109 km of observation effort along 13 tracklines; two days in August; Fig. 5.5) and within the entire 12-miles-wide territorial waters of Ukraine in the Black Sea (24,130 km2; 1,662 km along 57 tracklines; 14 days in September and October; Fig. 5.6). The surveys were designed and performed in frames of two research projects implemented by the Brema Laboratory alone (“MS- 2003”) [9] and together with the Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Science (“Afalina- 2003”) [10] . The ML data were analysed in the Crimean Medical University and submitted to the Ministry of Public Health of Ukraine and BSC Permanent Secretariat (Interdependence..., 2003). Later on the results were presented at the BSC scientific conference (Birkun and Krivokhizhin, 2006).


Fig. 5.5. Study area and 13 parallel tracklines used for the vessel-based line transect survey in Ukrainian waters of the Kerch Strait in August 2003.


Fig. 5.6. Study area and 57 zigzag tracklines used for the vessel-based line transect survey in Ukrainian territorial waters of the Black Sea in September and October 2003.

The surveys were conducted under the sea state score from 0 to 3 according to Beaufort scale, by means of two observation platforms (a longboat in the strait and cruising yacht in the sea) sailed at a speed of 6–9.4 knots. Changeable pairs of observers, rotated every 30–60 minutes, continuously scanned water surface from both sides of a vessel with the naked eye; a height of observers eyes above sea level varied from 2.6 to 3.4 m. Observers were instructed to record all types of polymer debris floating in the Black Sea, but in the Kerch Strait they registered plastic bottles only. Perpendicular distances from the sighted ML objects to vessel’s course were estimated. Statistical treatment and analysis of results followed the methodology recommended by Buckland et al. (1993). All sightings of ML were pooled to derive specific effective search half-width in two different strata, including the Kerch Strait and Ukrainian territorial waters in the Black Sea. The sets of sightings were truncated at perpendicular distances, partioned in various but equal intervals and fitted to the models by means of Distance 3.5 program package (The Research Unit for Wildlife Population Assessment, University of St. Andrews, UK ).

A total of 479 sightings (591 pieces) of floating plastic ML have been recorded in the Ukrainian Black Sea between the Danube Delta and Zmeiny Island to the west and Kerch Strait to the east (see Fig. 5.6). Most records pertained to coastal waters off the Crimea peninsula between Sevastopol and Feodosia (Fig. 5.7; tracklines from BS41- BS51).

The minimum values (uncorrected for detection bias) of ML pollution with drifting plastics were estimated for territorial waters of Ukraine :

· general density of floating plastic objects – 6.57 pieces/km2 (CV 18%);

· absolute amount of floating plastic objects – 158,620 pieces (CV 18%).

It was supposed that average mass of one plastic object being either in the sea or on the beach (see Section 5.1.2, A) is equiponderant making up 0.117 kg. Therefore, aggregate mass of plastic ML floated upon the entire surface of the Ukrainian Black Sea was estimated at 18,559 kg.

Fig. 5.7. Estimated number of ML items per 10 km on the surveyed tracklines in the Ukrainian Black Sea (vessel-based survey, September–October 2003).

The primary data on ML composition were obtained but not analysed and published yet. However, it was calculated that a share of plastic bottles constituted 5.25% in overall number of ML sightings recorded in the Black Sea area (Fig. 5.8), and their estimated density came to 0.18 bottles/km2 (CV 28%), whereas in the Kerch Strait this factor mounted tenfold to 1.84 bottles/km2 (CV 45%). Thereupon, it was assumed that the general density of floating plastic ML was also in 10 times higher in the strait than in the sea. Taking into consideration this assumption, the expected general density, absolute amount and aggregate mass of floating plastics were estimated for Ukrainian waters of the Kerch Strait as follows: 65.7 pieces/km2, 22,667 pieces and 2,652 kg, respectively.

Fig. 5.8. Estimated number of plastic bottles per 10 km on the surveyed tracklines in the Ukrainian Black Sea (vessel-based survey, September–October 2003).

D. Similar cetacean and ML vessel-based surveys have been carried out by the same joint Ukrainian and Russian team (“Afalina- 2003” project) in the Russian part of the Kerch Strait (August 2003; 517 km2; 200 km of observation effort along 22 tracklines) and Russian territorial waters of the Black Sea between the strait and Khosta, south of Sochi (October 2003; 7,650 km2; 564 km; 22 tracklines). However, the recorded ML data (in contrast to cetacean data) were not statistically treated, analysed and published, and additional effort and some financial support are needed to complete this piece of research.

E. In 2005, the Underwater Cleaning and Awareness Activity (STH, environmental NGO registered in Istanbul) started underwater inventory of ML in the selected areas within the boundaries of the city (STH, 2005). A series of 11 diving surveys has been realized during one year in the districts of Uskudar (January), Kadıköy (February), Ortaköy (April and June), Büyükada (April), Sedef Island (June), Heybeliada (July), Gölcük (August), Haliç (September), Harem (November), and Karaköy (December). Although these sites are pertinent to the Istanbul Strait, the gained knowledge could be useful in view of its possible application in the urbanized and harbour areas located round the Black Sea.

The method used by underwater cleanup team was random sampling. A total of 1606 ML pieces under 224 different titles were recorded. After each survey the STH prepared a file including all data obtained (in the form of inventory list), underwater photo and video images, expert judgment concerning suspected sources of ML pollution, and practical recommendations. The inventory lists (see example in Annex 5) lay the groundwork of a database on the sunken ML recorded in various locations.

The composition of ML items sighted by divers within the water column and on the bottom of study areas is presented on Fig. 5.9. Most pieces on record (77%) were produced from glass, plastic and metal.

Plastic Glass Metal Wooden Porcelain Textile Hybrid* Paper Other Total
403 508 327 24 34 40 218 24 28 1606

* Hybrid: objects formed from more than one material

Fig. 5.9. Composition of ML items recorded in the Istanbul Strait by means of underwater investigation (STH, 2005).

A tendency to ML accumulation on the bottom has been ascertained in some places (e.g., in Ortaköy at a depth of 8- 13 m). Solid wastes cover up the ground along with local communities of benthic organisms (molluscs, etc.) there. In Karaköy and the Galata Bridge location, the remains of metal piles and other submerged constructions cause countless fishing lines get caught. Those scraps of fishing tackle, equipped with fishhooks, represent a direct threat to fishes and some other animals. A number of living creatures have been saved from the lines by the divers and much more have been seen dead. The abandoned fishing nets, surrounding the Sedef Island at about 33 m level, have been recorded and removed out of the water. The organic and inorganic matter (including solid wastes) filled up the nets hindering normal water circulation, and some representatives of the marine fauna (including cephalopods and crustaceans) were found captured by that useless but still “working” fishing gear (STH, 2005).

5.1.2. Data on marine litter in the coastal environment

A. Some research of ML in the coastal environment was conducted in Ukraine by the Brema Laboratory and Crimean Medical University (Interdependence..., 2003; Birkun and Krivokhizhin, 2006). A total of 12 pedestrian surveys of the stranded cetaceans and washed ashore ML have been carried out on the unorganized (relatively manless) sandy and pebble beaches of the western (outskirts of Shtormovoye), south-western (outskirts of Lyubimovka) and south-eastern (outskirts of Privetnoye) Crimea (Fig. 5.10) during the period from autumn 2002 to summer 2003, including one survey in November, one – in March, three – in April, one – in May, three – in June, and three – in July. The measured area of coastal plots, selected randomly for the ML surveying, varied from 1,200 to 18,165 m2 depending on the number (from 4 to 16) of voluntary observers/ML pickers involved in data recording. All pieces of ML found within the bounds of every plot were collected, assorted and weighted (plastic and glass objects were treated separately) and then disposed through the nearest garbage recipient facilities. Specific indices of ML pollution (number and mass of pieces per 1 km2 of the beach) were estimated and compared between study areas and seasons.

Fig. 5.10. Location of study areas (examined plots of the beach) in the Crimea (pedestrian surveys, November 2002 – July 2003).

Great numerical predominance of plastic ML (80–98% of the recorded pieces) has been determined in different coastal areas and seasons in comparison with glass ML (2–20%) represented mainly by broken and unbroken bottles. The density of pollution by polymeric garbage (including scraps of polyethylene film, plastic bags and bottles, other synthetic ware, etc.) varied on the beaches from 2,698 to 55,000 pieces/km2, while the density of glass bottles ashore fluctuated between 280 and 1,455 pieces/km2.

The ML weighting indices varied from 333 to 6,250 kg/km2 (plastics) and from 222 to 1,455 kg/km2 (glass). The average mass of one plastic object contaminating the coastal strip came up to 0.117 kg. This value was used for the estimation of aggregate mass of floating plastic ML in the Ukrainian Black Sea and Kerch Strait (see Section 5.1.1, C).

The average overall values of ML quantity on the Crimean unorganized beaches were estimated as follows (M ± m):

· density of plastic objects – 16,348 ± 5,076 pieces/km2;

· mass of plastics objects – 1,910 ± 612 kg/km2;

· density of glass objects (bottles only) – 674 ± 107 pieces/km2;

· • mass of glass objects (including bottles) – 552 ± 96 kg/km2.

A few examples of ML accumulation on the Crimean beaches are shown on Fig. 5.11.

On 10 May 2003, huge quantity of petroleum tar balls (very specific ML item indeed) were found washed ashore along 30-km-long sandy beach between Cape Evpatoriyskiy and Lake Donuzlav, western Crimea. The clots were collected and weighted from the area of 1,600 m2. The concentration of this contaminant was estimated as high as 11,600 kg per 1 km2 of the beach. The remote peril of this type of ML consists in the melting of tar balls in the sun, and forming, as a result, timeproof “masout” spots on the beach (Fig. 5.12).

B. Numerous “spontaneous heaps” of ML have been sighted during aerial surveys conducted by CHEMBAS in 2003, 2004 and 2005 (see Section 5.1.1, B) along unpopulated (but visited by unorganized tourists) portions of the Russian Black Sea and Azov Sea coasts. Such ML deposits are known to be present on sandy northeastern coast of the Kerch Strait (Choushka spit), and also in Taman–Anapa (Blagoveshchenskaya and Vityashevskaya spits), Anapa–Novorossiysk (Abrau peninsula), Novorossiysk–Gelendzhik, and Divnomorskoye–Dzhoubga areas. In May 2004 (during snowmelt floods, before tourist season), a total volume of ML on the coast of Sochi area (from Shepsi to Psou) was estimated as much as 12,000 m3. Another type of ML accumulations is peculiar to marshy margins of the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait in the Taganrog Gulf, Dinskoy bay and Taman Gulf, etc. However, no quantitative information was collected and no analysis was presented regarding composition of ML in those places.

C. Important data on permanent sources of ML have been published recently by Turkish specialists (Çelik, 2002; Yıldırım et al., 2004; Berkun et al., 2005). Solid waste management is one of the main environmental problems in the Black Sea Region. (Çelik, 2002). It was acknowledged that at the Black Sea coast of Turkey municipal and industrial solid wastes, mixed with hospital and hazardous wastes, are often dumped on the nearest lowlands and river valleys or into the sea (Berkun et al., 2005). As mentioned already, the development of an integrated, regional system for solid waste management in the region is more difficult and costly because of the difficult topography of the region (Berkun, et al., 2005).

Environmentally dangerous mode of solid wastes disposal is still realized, in particular, via irregular and uncontrolled landfill sites situated in the immediate proximity to the sea, by some Black Sea coastal states including Turkey . Solid wastes disposal sites continues to constitute major source of ML for the Turkish waters and, probably, for the Black Sea in whole, in spite of the fact that this problem has been highlighted quite many years ago (Berkun, 1991; Tuncer et al., 1998; Mee and Topping, 1998) and dumping any waste such as garbage, debris, construction waste, etc. is prohibited on the shore strip according to the Turkish Coastal/Shore Law (1990, amended in 1992). Uncontrolled landfills are urgent as Solid Waste Management, because they are the most traditional (and environmentally dangerous) ways of disposal for many years in the world (Mavropoulos and Kaliampakos, 1999) as well as in Turkey . (Yıldırım et al., 2004).

In this context, Yıldırım et al. (2004) presented a case study regarding the municipal solid waste landfill site near Zonguldak city, the southwestern Black Sea coast of Turkey (Fig. 5.13), where the uncontrolled dumping of solid wastes is the actually applied disposal method. The population of the city and and its two satellites (Kozlu and Kilimli) has been reported round 136,000 in 2004; the specific solid waste production rate came to 0.64 kg per capita per day (TUGAL, 2002). During over 30 years, the municipal solid wastes (72.4 ton per day at the average) were deposited on the landfill site located in Kozlu suburb, between main coastal roadway and the seashore. The area and bulk volume of the landfill were estimated as 2.5 ha and 75,000 m3, respectively. The landfill has a tight physical contact with the shoreline of the Black Sea (Fig. 5.14).

For years there was no wall or any other constructions providing stability for the rubbish heap and preventing rubbish mass transportation into the sea. As a result, the deposited wastes were subjected to waves, and supposedly huge (but really undefined) amount of potential ML items was transported annually into the sea as well as scattered along the coastline. (Yıldırım et al., 2004).

The landfill used causes also other problems including the spreading out of plastics and paper by wind, odours, creating a habitat for insects and rodents, groundwater pollution and producing landfill gases, as the case for similar landfill areas in other parts of the world (Gonullu, 1999, Mavropoulos and Kaliampakos, 1999).

Фото_1 Фото_2


Fig. 5.11. Accumulation of wooden and plastic ML on Black Sea coast of the southern Crimea, Ukraine : the unorganized beach near Rybachye in September 2002

 (two left photos) and June 2003 (right photo), photo by A. Birkun, Jr. )

The composition of Zonguldak solid wastes was determined as follows (a total of 2,159 kg has been studied by means of manual separation and weighing; Yıldırım et al., 2004):

· organic waste   30.7 %

· paper and carton 20.0 %

· plastic 16.1 %

· ash   10.9 %

· glass 6.1 %

· medical (hospital and clinic) waste   6.0 %

· metal   3.8 %

· miscellaneous (tire, wood, bone, leather)   3.8 %

· textile   2.6 %


Fig. 5.12. The beached paper sack with tar balls melting on the heated sand in the vicinity of Shtormovoye (western Crimea, June 2003),

photo by A. Birkun, Jr.


Fig. 5.13. Main towns discharging solid wastes at the Black Sea coast of Turkey

(after Yıldırım et al., 2004; Berkun et al., 2005).

It was concluded that the landfill in Zonguldak province may cause potential threats throughout the Black Sea region because of dissemination of ML and other contaminants by sea currents. It was estimated that the amount of solid wastes will increase in this site during the nearest 15 years proportionally to population and consumption growth, and, probably, would result in additional 545,000 m3 of the dumped matter by 2018 (Yıldırım et al., 2004). However, active measures have been undertaken recently by the Municipality with strong support from the government, by constructing a wall as a barrier to avert waste washing from the landfill into the sea as well as regular storage facilities.

Fig. 5.14 Enormous deposit of ML represented by the landfill near Zonguldak.

 Human figures on the coast suggest that a height of the waste dump is not less than 20 m (upper photo). Waves demolish it shifting ML staff into the sea (lower photo). Both pictures are taken from Yıldırım et al. (2004).

In the countries around the Black Sea coast, many cities discharge their solid wastes and wastewaters into the shallow sea waters, mostly without treatment and outfall systems and some cities along the Turkish Black Sea coast are no exception to this rule. (Berkun et al., 2005; see Fig. 5.13). In some areas, municipalities used filling the coastal zone with solid wastes, allegedly, for the purpose to gain some extra “land” expanded towards the sea. As a result, at present some uncontrolled landfills protrude rather far into the sea: water depths along the coastline, shaped by the heaps of solid wastes, run up to 10 m in places (Berkun et al., 2005). These sites are not protected from waves and, thus, serve as stationary sources of unknown (but admittedly large) quantities of ML.

Besides, according to available data (Table 5.2) the problem of solid wastes is presently seriously taken under the control of the Turkish Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

Table 5.2. Amount of solid waste by destination, 2004 Data received from web page of the Turkish Statistical Institute (

Solid waste disposed
 Provinces  Total disposal Metropolitan municipality dumping site Municipality dumping site Another municipality's dumping site Controlled landfill Composting plant Burning in an open area  River and lake disposal  Burial (1) Other (1)
Artvin 12  35 548 - -  10  28 900 - - - - - -  1  579 - -  1  1 677  1  4 392
Giresun 25  87 886 - -  11  66 393  6  9 786 - - - -  3  1 159 - -  1  165  4  10 383
İstanbul 73 4 470 687 - -  17  148 123  1  732  56 4 156 395  1  151 158  2  1 926 - - - -  3  12 353
Kastamonu 21  125 881 - -  17  117 384 - - - - - -  1  5 612  2  688  1  2 196 - -
Kırklareli 26  123 392 - -  25  122 870 - - - - - - - - - - - -  1  522
Kocaeli 45  380 446 - -  11  140 422  3  36 435  30  200 898 - - - - - - - -  4  2 692
Ordu 56  158 060 - -  39  150 099  6  5 152 - - - -  2  586  3  568  3  988  3  667
Rize 21  89 083 - -  8  67 792  7  3 376 - - - - - - - -  4  6 740  2  11 174
Samsun 47  301 037 15  148 725  17  136 267  7  4 825 - - - - - -  2  794  4  9 759  2  667
Sinop 11  64 979 - -  7  20 076 - - - - - - - - - -  3  44 876  1  26
Trabzon 64  168 767 - -  16  115 463  30  22 763 - - - -  2  302  2  1 419  8  11 940  7  16 881
Zonguldak 32  322 460 - -  26  291 453  6  31 007 - - - - - - - - - - - -
Bartın 9  37 183 - -  8  33 949  1  3 234 - - - - - - - - - - - -
Karabük 8  58 544 - -  8  58 544 - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Number of municipalities (Metropolitan municipality means population larger than 750 000; Municipality – population larger than 5000).

Amount of solid waste (tonnes/year) D. Since 2002, the Turkish Marine Environment Protection Association (TURMEPA, Istanbul) represents Turkish environmental NGOs in the International Coastal Cleanup Campaign (ICC, 2002). Following this initiative, every year from 5,000 to 6,000 volunteers, organized by TURMEPA and its partners, took part in coastal cleanup operations in the populated areas along the Turkish coasts of the Mediterranean, Aegean, Black Seas and Turkish Straits System. In 2003 and 2004, such operations have been carried out in 27-31 cities and settlements including eight localities at the Black Sea coast: Akçakoca, Ereğli, Giresun, Hopa, Inebolu, Rize, Samsun and Trabzon. The volunteers collected ML items upon selected coastal plots (mainly public beaches) of known length, sorted those items, weighted and recorded them.

According to available statistics, a total of 2009 individuals collected 8,215.4 kg of ML along 21.3 km of the Black Sea shore in 2003. It constituted 385.7 kg per 1 km at the average (in comparison with 326.0 kg/km for all Turkish sites examined), however, the concentration of collected ML varied in different places within wide range: from 58.4 kg/km in Rize to 1,395.1 kg/km in Trabzon. The composition of ML (for all sites involved, not only for the Black Sea localities), with regard to its possible sources, was estimated as is shown on Fig. 5.15.

As it follows from this estimation, the shoreline and recreational activities along with smoking-related activities constitute the two major sources of ML contamination of the coast. These activities taken together, allegedly, caused 95.5-96.8% of ML pieces found on the seashore, while the dumping activities were considered responsible for 0.8-1.1% of ML objects only. (Comments from the Regional consultant: Such ratio seems to be very questionable (strongly biased) with its particular reference to the Turkish Black Sea territories because of numerous solid waste dumping sites situated there in direct contact with coastal and marine environment (see Section 5.1.2, C). It seems more likely that at least some or, perhaps, most floating ML items (such as plastic bags, bottles and crockery) were trasported by sea currents and winds from the uncontrolled landfills to the localities where they were recorded).

E. In 2001, two environmental NGOs - the Greener Bourgas Foundation (GBF; Bourgas, Bulgaria) and Mare Nostrum (Constantsa, Romania) implemented a project entitled as the “Clean Beaches – first commitment for sustainable tourism development” (supported by the Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe). The common methodology has been elaborated for ML coastal surveying, and practical guidelines were prepared in the form of a handbook for the assessment of ML pollution on the seashore (Beach Survey Strategy, 2001).

The Bulgarian team monitored five popular beaches in Bourgas, Pomorie and Sozopol during March–July 2001. The volunteers collected, classified and recorded various ML items and prepared a detailed report which is enclosed as Annex 6.

Besides, during the period from 15 June to 15 July, more than 1,500 visitors of the Bulgarian beaches were interviewed on base of preliminary elaborated questionnaire. As a rule, the holiday-makers appreciated climatic conditions of the beaches but most of them (more than 60 or even 90% of the visitors) answered that they do not like rubbish on the beach. The opinion of the beach visitors was that ML strongly (or very strongly) affects quality of the beach.

The recorded numbers of ML items are categorized in compliance with human activities – presumable sources of ML on the seashore (TURMEPA, pers. comm. to E. Okus).

National bibliographies on ML in the Black Sea region are still scant (Annex 7). There are few peer reviewed scientific publications on this topic (all of them are by Turkish authors), and most of these papers concern the solid waste problem mainly.

Fig. 5.15. Composition of ML collected in Turkey on the coasts of the Mediterranean, Aegean and Black Seas and Turkish Straits System within the International Coastal Cleanup Campaign in 2003 and 2004.


National ML consultants were requested to provide expert evaluation (make their own appraisal) regarding the state of ML pollution in their countries. With that end in view, they responded to four questions:

(a) How do you assess levels of ML pollution last year (in 2005)?

(b) How do you assess general trend of ML pollution during last decade?

(c) Can you specify five primary sources of ML and five all-important hot spots?

(d) Can you specify five principle items (constituents) composing ML?

The answers on these questions are summarized in Tables 5.3–5.9 presented below.

Table 5.3. Experts’ views on the level of ML pollution in 2005 in the marine environment

Country Low Moderate Sustainable High Very high
Bulgaria yes
Georgia yes
Romania yes
Russia yes
Turkey yes
Ukraine yes

Comment: The medium scores (“Moderate” or “Sustainable”) conferred by all national consultants, possibly reflect general uncertainty (a lack of solid scientific data) about actual levels of ML contamination in the marine environment.

Table 5.4. Experts’ views on the level of ML pollution in 2005 in the coastal environment

Country Low Moderate Sustainable High Very high
Bulgaria yes
Georgia yes
Romania yes
Russia yes
Turkey yes
Ukraine yes

Comment: As it was noted above, there was no ML research activity in Georgia and Romania . That could be a possible reason why these consultants are more straitened in their inferences than their colleagues from other Black Sea countries.

Table 5.5. Experts’ evaluation of the general trend of ML pollution during last 10 years (1996-2005) in the marine environment

Country Decrease Growth No significant variation No comment
Bulgaria yes
Georgia yes
Romania yes
Russia yes
Turkey yes
Ukraine Yes

Comment: The continuing accumulation of solid wastes on the uncontrolled landfills may cause a growth of ML in the marine environment due to spontaneous release of the wastes from the dumps into the sea by erosive factors such as waves, rain and wind. At the same time, the sea currents and wind play a role as ML dissemination factors contributing to the transboundary transport of floating wastes.

Table 5.6. Experts’ evaluation of the general trend of ML pollution during last 10 years (1996-2005) in the coastal environment

Country Decrease Growth No significant variation No comment
Bulgaria yes
Georgia yes
Romania yes
Russia yes
Turkey yes
Ukraine yes

Comment: Turkish National Consultant indicates that the data published previously by some Turkish specialists (Yıldırım et al., 2004; Berkun et al., 2005) is quite outdated because in the recent years Turkey undertook a number of very active political steps and investment projects for combating pollution from solid waste disposal and improvement of waste management (see 4.2, pages 45-48).

Table 5.7. Primary sources of ML ranked according to the experts’ scores

Source Bulgaria Georgia Romania Russia Turkey Ukraine Total
Municipal garbage/sewages (household waste) 5 5 5 5 3 4 27
Marine transport and ports (shipping waste) 4 3 2 3 5 5 22
Recreation activities in coastal area (litter produced by local population and tourists) 3 4 3 4 1 3 18
River run-off 1 5 5 11
Industry (incl. shipyard works) 1 1 4 6
Fishery (incl. abandoned nets) 1 1 4 6
Coastal construction (incl. house-building) 2 2 2 6
Agriculture 2 2
Transboundary transfer of floating ML 1 1

Comment: River run-off and transboundary transfer of floating ML by sea currents were mentioned by some national consultants as the primary sources of ML pollution, although they are not parental (initial) sources, but means of ML transportation mainly. Anyway, ML transfer by sea currents seems to be not less important in the Black Sea region, than ML discharge by rivers.

Table 5.8. ML hot spots indicated by the national consultants

Country ML hot spots (ranked in order of their importance)
Bulgaria 1. Coastal cities (including seaside resort complexes)2. Ports3. Navigation routes4. Industrial zones along the beaches of Bourgas and Varna5. Wild beaches and estuaries of the rivers
Georgia 1. Batumi landfill2. Port of Batumi3. Port of Poti4. Kobuleti landfill5. Mouth of Chorokhi river*
Romania 1. Coastal cities2. Fishing areas3. Recreation areas4. Navigation routes5. Shipyards in Constantsa and Mangalia
Russia 1. River valleys and mouths**2. Beaches3. Ports and anchorage areas***4. Nearshore bottom of urbanized areas****5. Coastal waters between Sochi and Tuapse
Turkey 1. Yeşilırmak delta and basin2. Samsun area (including Samsun harbour)3. Kızılırmak delta and basin4. Industrial areas (Zonguldak and Giresun)5. Touristic areas (Sinop)
Ukraine 1. Coastal cities ( Odessa, Sevastopol, Kerch)2. Recreation areas in Crimea ( Yalta, Sudak, Alushta, Balaklava, etc.)3. Unorganized beaches of the Crimea peninsula*4. Sandy spits of the north-western Black Sea and northern Azov Sea*5. Eastuaries of rivers ( Danube, Dnieper, Boug, etc.)*

* Hot spots added by the regional ML consultant in line with his own experience.

** Russian coast of the Black Sea between Divnomorskoe and Psou is the most abundant in mountain rivers.

*** In particular, harbours of Taganrog, Yeysk and Temryuk in the Azov Sea are burdened with coal debris and scrap-iron.

**** In particular, there are some sunk vessels and abandoned gear within the shelf area between Taman and Anapa.

Table 5.9. Basic groups of ML ingredients ranked according to the experts’ scores

Type of ML items Bulgaria Georgia Romania Russia Turkey Ukraine In total
Plastic wares (bottles, bags, etc.) 5 5 5 5 5 5 30
Paper and carton (including various package staff and cigarette stumps) 4 4 4 4 16
Foodwastes 2 5 2 9
Metal objects (tins and cans, scrap metal) 3 4 7
Rubber goods (including old tires) 1 2 3 6
Textile rags 1 3 1 5
Wooden objects 1 4 5
Glass (bottles, etc.) 1 3 4
Medical wastes 1 3 4
Leather (old shoes, etc.) 3 3
Abandoned fishing and sailing gear 1 2 3
Hazardous wastes 2 2