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



Marine Litter Report


1. The overloading of the Black Sea marine and coastal environment with ML constitutes one of the most urgent and difficult environmental problems in the region. Geographical scope of this problem, which is focused on the Black Sea proper and its coasts, extends over the entire catchment area of the Black Sea drainage basin. However, so far ML problem is not properly addressed and managed on the regional and national levels. The dissemination of floating and suspended ML by wind and sea currents represents a transboundary threat.

2. The ML problem is originated almost completely from the problem of solid waste pollution. These two problems are closely linked to major problems of public health, conservation of the environment, and sustainable development in the region. ML originates from various land- and sea-based sources as a result of manifold human activities and, evidently, causes multivectorial negative impact on the population, wild life, abiotic nature and some sectors of economy (e.g., the tourism, fishery and marine traffic). At the same time, it seems very likely that the land-based solid wastes constitute the major source of ML in the Black Sea.

3. Widespread IUU fishing can be considered as a peculiar type of ML pollution in the Black Sea region. Illegal fishing nets and nets which were discarded or abandoned cause the so-called “ghost fishing”. Admittedly high concentrations of fixed and floating IUU fishing gear in the shelf area result in the reduction of habitat space, formation of obstacles on migration ways and enhancement of incidental mortality (by-catch) of cetaceans, fishes and crustaceans.

4. Black Sea ML is a matter of regulation to some extent by a series of legal acts aimed to harmonize various human activities on the international, regional and national levels. However, up to now there is no any jural instrument dedicated specifically to the management of ML problem in the Black Sea marine and coastal environment. Neither the concept of ML as a serious problem or indeed as a law term are formally accepted or even well-known in the Black Sea community.

5. The Black Sea states are the parties to several conventions which are relevant to the management and mitigation of ML problem. The Bucharest Convention, MARPOL 73/78 and the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal are ratified by all six Black Sea states, whereas the Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter (the London Convention) is ratified by Bulgaria, Russia and Ukraine only.

6. All Black Sea riparian states are in transition process of developing and updating their national instruments aimed at combatting marine pollution including ML/solid waste component. Actual rate of this process and concrete instruments developed are quite different in different countries. However, general trends of this process regarding the ML problem are common: (a) to prohibit any deliberate discharge of potential ML at sea and on the shore; (b) to improve solid waste collection, processing, storage, disposal and recycling facilities; and (c) to enhance governmental control of above mentioned activities.

7. National policies in the Black Sea states are aimed at waste minimization, reuse and recycling, and recovery of landfills. The major legislative and regulatory tools for waste management are adequately developed in the Black Sea countries, and include basic laws and regulations. Bulgaria and Romania, which were accepted to the EU in January 2007, transpose relevant EU directives and standards into their national legislation. One of the main management problems in most Black Sea countries is the failure in full application of the existing laws and regulations.

8. A wide variety of governmental organizations, NGOs and business establishments are concerned about marine and coastal pollution in the Black Sea states at the national and local level. Most of those entities, represented by ministerial and municipal structures and services, marine and sanitary inspectorates, research institutions and universities, port administrations, various agencies, companies and enterprises, and amateur ecological associations, are involved (or can be involved) in the activities addressing and combatting ML problem. The existing institutional arrangements are in need of improvement, consolidation and harmonization of their activities on the regional and national levels.

9. So far, there is no any Black Sea regional and national strategy, action plan or programme that is specifically devoted to address, restrain and solve the ML problem. However, during the period from 1996-2007 there were several international and Black Sea regional programmes and projects which were partly or marginally concerned in ML. The BS SAP (1996, amended in 2002) seems to be the most appropriate strategic framework that could be supplemented with specific ML items of the regional significance. Some strategic documents of national importance (e.g., environmental strategies for the coastal zone and waters, waste management programmes, etc.) are concerned in ML problem at least in part. Besides, several ML-related projects were implemented during the last decade by environmental NGOs on voluntary basis.

10. During the last decade, some governmental and private institutions and NGOs carried out ML research using different approaches and methods. However, national bibliographies on ML in the Black Sea region are still scant; there are very few scientific publications on this topic and most of the papers concern the solid waste management mainly. Several aerial and vessel-based ML surveys have been carried out in the Ukrainian and Russian waters. Turkish specialists performed diving ML surveys in the Istanbul Strait and presented the data concerning uncontrolled dumping sites at the southern coast of the Black Sea. Coastal ML surveys were conducted in some populated (in Bulgaria and Turkey) and unpopulated (in Ukraine) seashore areas. Results of all those studies confirm the importance of ML problem for different Black Sea countries and the region in whole.

11. According to expert valuation by national consultants on ML, at least seven actions or groups of actions deserve high prioritization on the national level: (a) correction of waste management policy; (b) improvement of legal and administrative instruments; (c) development of sustainable ML management; (d) development of ML monitoring methodology; (e) national assessment of ML pollution; (f) preparation of proposals to prevent and reduce ML; and (g) preparation of awareness and educational tools.

12. The Special Session on ML of the 15th Meeting of the BSC Advisory Group on Pollution Monitoring and Assessment (Istanbul, 9-10 October 2006) agreed that the major gaps and needs in coverage of ML management on the regional level consist in following items: (a) underdevelopment of waste management policy and, particularly, its incompleteness and low efficiency in respect of ML issues; (b) imperfection and disbalance of legal and administrative instruments developed for solid waste and ML management; (c) lack of common ML monitoring and assessment approach based on the standardized methodologies and assessment criteria; (d) deficiency of practical measures destined to prevent and reduce ML pollution; (e) technological lag in respect of contemporary methods and devices for collection, processing, recycling and disposal of solid wastes and ML; (f) insufficiency of public awareness/education regarding ML problem; (g) low level of involvement of general public and private sector in combatting ML pollution; and (h) gaps in professional knowledge on ML issues among managers and authorities involved in the protection of the Black Sea against pollution.


National consultants on ML made helpful suggestions and drafted some project proposals aimed to address and alleviate ML problem in their countries. Besides, participants of the Special Session on ML (Istanbul, 9-10 October 2006) proposed a list of high priority actions to be included in the Regional ML Action Plan. Reflecting all available provisions, the aim of this action plan could be formulated as follows: to consolidate, harmonize and implement necessary environmental policies, strategies and measures destined to develop sustainable integrated management of ML issues in the Black Sea region.

The objectives of the Regional ML Action Plan could be based on general recommendations of this report, including:

(1)    to improve the waste management policies in order to devote due regional/ intergovernmental and national/governmental attention and outline proper effort and resources for the abatement of marine litter pollution in the region in whole and in every Black Sea riparian state, in particular;

(2)    to reinforce and harmonize existing legal and administrative instruments relevant to the implementation of waste management policies in order to ensure their efficacy under the application with respect to marine litter issues;

(3)    to strengthen intergovernmental institutional arrangements consolidating Black Sea regional activities on marine litter and other types of marine pollution;

(4)    to improve national institutional arrangements regarding the addressing, preventing and combatting the marine litter problem;

(5)    to identify financial sources and allocate essential funds for the implementation of marine litter projects;

(6)    to develop regional and national marine litter monitoring and assessment schemes on base of common research approach, methodology, evaluation criteria and reporting requirements;

(7)    to improve, develop and implement practical measures aimed to prevent and reduce marine litter pollution;

(8)    to gain and implement the best available technologies in order to collect, process, recycle and dispose marine litter;

(9)    to raise public awareness and promote public education on marine litter issues;

(10)  to strengthen public, governmental and private sector partnership in combatting marine litter pollution;

(11)  to improve professional skills and knowledge of responsible authorities involved in the management of marine litter issues;

(12)  to stimulate information exchange on marine litter issues in order to share the best experiences and innovative technologies amongst the Black Sea countries.