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Saving the Black Sea

Official Newsletter of the Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution

Jan 2009 - Dec 2009

Issue 12

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Saving the Black Sea, Issue 12

MINISTERIAL MEETING/DIPLOMATIC CONFERENCE OF THE CONTRACTING PARTIES TO THE BUCHAREST CONVENTION

17 APRIL 2009, SOFIA, BULGARIA

Ministerial Meeting/Diplomatic Conference Sofia 2009

Heads of Delegations at the Ministerial Meeting/Diplomatic Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Bucharest Convention

(from left to right: H.E. Mr. Dzhevdet Chakarov, Minister of Environment and Water, Bulgaria; H.E.Mr.George Khachidze, Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Georgia; H.E. Mr. Nikolae Nemirschi, Minister of the Environment, Romania; Mr. Anatoly Totskiy, Acting Director of the International Cooperation Department, Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, Russian Federation; H.E. Mr.Veysel Eroglu, Minister of the Environment and Forestry, Turkey; H.E. Mr.Heorhii Filipchuk, Minister of the Environmental Protection of Ukraine. )

 

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

We have come to the end of another year. 2009 has been a fruitful year for the Black Sea Commission, and for the sake of the Black Sea, for that matter.

In this 12th issue of our newsletter, we have covered a selection of issues that are of high regional and international importance, such as the Ministerial Meeting/Diplomatic Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Bucharest Convention, the Second Operational Black Sea Delta Regional Exercise RODELTA 2009, BSC - UBCCE Joint Conference at 5th World Water Forum, 2009 International Black Sea Action Day and 1st Marine Environment Workshop and Activities held in Samsun, Turkey, the closure of the EU-funded ECBSea project, information about the ongoing projects and exciting news about a green turtle in the middle of the Turkish Black Sea coast!

I hope you enjoy our newsletter!

Prof. Ahmet E. Kideys

Executive Director

Declaration

of the Ministers of Environment

of the Contracting Parties to the Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution on Strengthening the Cooperation for the Rehabilitation of the Black Sea Environment

We, the Ministers responsible for the protection of the environment Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, the Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine, Contracting Parties to the Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution, meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria, 17 April 2009;

have agreed to:

1) welcome the adoption of the Protocol for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Black Sea from Land-Based Sources and Activities according to Article 20 of the Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution and to renew efforts towards its implementation;

2) adopt the Strategic Action Plan for the Environmental Protection and Rehabilitation of the Black Sea, 2009;

3) welcome the signing of the Final Act of the Diplomatic Conference to formalize the adoption of above instruments;

4) welcome the adoption of the Contingency Plan (Volume I : Response To Oil Spills 2003) as an Annex to the Protocol on Cooperation in Combating Pollution of the Black Sea by Oil and Other Harmful Substances;

5) welcome the signing of the Black Sea Biodiversity and Landscape Conservation Protocol by Georgia to speed up its ratification and entry into force;

6) further strengthen the infrastructure and capacity for implementation of the Strategic Action Plan for the Environmental Protection and Rehabilitation of the Black Sea, adopted on 17th April 2009, including actions to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change, further enhance the application of the ecosystem approach to the environmental management of the Black Sea;

7) finalize without further delay a legal framework for the sustainable management of fisheries and marine living resources and to establish regulatory framework for maintaining healthy and viable fish stocks in the Black Sea, taking into account the previous work and efforts as well as the experience of other regional agreements and arrangements;

8) initiate a joint process within the Black Sea Commission to elaborate further on the proposal for the amendment of the Convention submitted by Bulgaria and Romania on the accession of regional economic integration organizations with a view to develop a recommendation on such amendments as may be required;

9) incorporate up-to-date environmental management approaches, practices and technologies, with particular attention to integrated coastal zone management, introduction of green technologies, sustainable human development and ecosystem based management of human activities;

10 )co-ordinate and harmonize where appropriate the Black Sea environmental policies with relevant regional and global initiatives and agreements in order to achieve synergy in the actions aimed at the further recovery of the Black Sea environment and contribute to sustainable development of the Black Sea coastal states

11) improve regional and national capacity and preparedness to prevent and respond to emergency situations and natural disasters threatening the Black Sea environment, as well as to take all necessary measures to decrease risk by increasing shipping safety inter alia making fully operational Black Sea Contingency Plan to the Protocol on Cooperation in Combating Pollution of the Black Sea by oil and other harmful substances in emergency situations;

12) develop national and regional strategies and action plans and undertake necessary actions aimed at prevention and mitigation of consequences of the introduction of alien species;

13) encourage introduction of best environmental practices and best environmental technologies in the Black Sea basin in order to minimize pollution and degradation of the Black Sea from point and diffuse land-based sources and activities, notably from agriculture;

14) reduce littering of the Black Sea, notably by strengthening environmental policies for shipping and tourist industries and raising public awareness and involvement;

15) promote development and implement river basin management plans for large and medium rivers flowing into the Black Sea in order to reduce their influence on the Black Sea;

16) strengthen regional cooperation in the establishment of network of protected areas, with particular attention to marine protected areas, and development and introduction of species conservation plans, inter alia marine mammals, in cooperation with relevant international organizations, in the coastal zone of the Black Sea aiming at species and habitat conservation;

17) strengthen cooperation in improving scientific knowledge and forecast of environmental changes important for the Black Sea ecosystem and population of the Black Sea coastal states, notably by coordinating national and international scientific research programs and monitoring and securing the necessary funding for the research;

18) further strengthen cooperation with international organizations such as GEF, UNDP, UNEP, BSEC (Black Sea Economic Cooperation), European Union, the World Bank, and IMO, in support of the implementation of the Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution and its protocols;

19) encourage a broader stakeholder involvement, including the active participation of NGO´s and the private sector in the implementation of environmental protection policies;

20) welcome and highly appreciate the efforts of the Government of Ukraine for the preparation process of the Ministerial Meeting;

21) express our appreciation and gratitude to the Government of Bulgaria for hosting this Meeting in Sofia, 17 April 2009.

Ministerial Meeting/Diplomatic Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Bucharest Convention, 17 April 2009, Sofia, Bulgaria

Ministers at Ministerial Meeting/Diplomatic Conference, Sofia 2009On 17 April 2009, the Ministerial Meeting/Diplomatic Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Bucharest Convention was held in Sofia, Bulgaria. The authorised representatives from Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, the Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine participated in the Conference.

Georgia has signed the Biodiversity and Landscape Conservation Protocol at the meeting; joining the earlier signatory Contracting Parties (i.e. Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine).

The Headquartes Agreement was also signed between the Government of the Republic of Turkey (as the host country) and the Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution during the 21st Black Sea Commission Meeting held back to back with the Ministerial Meeting). In this BSC meeting, Georgia joined Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey expressing its readiness to adopt the Contingency Plan.

Excellent organization, quality, a number of Conference materials prepared and spirit of cooperation marked the Conference as one of the most important events in the history of the BSC.

Also at this Conference, the European Union, an observer of the Black Sea Commission through the European Commission´s Directorate-General for the Environment, proposed to become an actual member of the Commission. Although the Ministerial Meeting/Diplomatic Conference did not reach a unanimous decision on the accession of the EU to the Bucharest Convention, the Declaration of Ministers (the operative section of which is presented below) supported further work in this respect.

RODELTA 2009: Second Operational Black Sea Delta Regional Exercise

RODELTA 2009

The Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution organizes regional DELTA exercises in the Black Sea to be prepared towards accidental oil spills which may lead to serious environmental disasters. 

Article IX of 1992 Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution (the Bucharest Convention) calls for its Contracting Parties to cooperate in order to prevent, reduce and combat pollution of the marine environment of the Black Sea resulting from emergency situations in accordance with the Protocol on Cooperation in Combating Pollution of the Black Sea by Oil and Other Harmful Substances in Emergency Situations (The Emergency Protocol).

Article 2 of the Emergency Protocol states that the Contracting Parties shall endeavour to maintain and promote either individually or through bilateral or multilateral co-operation, contingency plans for combating pollution of the sea by oil and other harmful substances.

The Contracting Parties to the Bucharest Convention; namely Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, the Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine have agreed to adopt the Black Sea Contingency Plan (the Plan) for responding promptly and effectively to marine pollution incidents affecting or likely to affect the Black Sea environment. One of the major concrete activities for this cooperation is the regional joint DELTA exercises conducted in the Black Sea.

The first of these regional DELTA exercises, SULH 2007, was hosted by Turkey, and conducted through the participation and contribution of the other Black Sea riparian states between 5-7 September 2007 off the coast of the Turkish province of Karadeniz Eregli.

The second, RODELTA 2009, was hosted by Romania, and it took place on 26-27 August 2009 in Constanta. All Contracting Parties participated in and contributed to the exercise with equipment and human resources.

Planning and Preparation

Romanian national authorities decided for RODELTA 2009 to take place in the Port of Midia in Constanta. Two Steering Committee meetings were held, one in Constanta, Romania, and one in Izmir, Turkey. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the Black Sea Commission (BSC) supported these activities. Turkey assisted with the arrangement of the second meeting, which was successfully coordinated with a national oil spill preparedness and search and rescue (SAR) exercise in Aliaga Port in Izmir.

 

At national level, three planning meetings were organized. Each meeting was held at the Romanian Naval Authority headquarters, and each lasted three days. Representatives from each Romanian ministry participated in these meetings.

Between these meetings, a correspondence working group was established for dealing with the details of the exercise.

In March 2009, a regional IMO OPRC (TheInternational Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Responseand Co-operation) level 3 course was organized in conjunction with the RODELTA 2009 First Steering Committee meeting.

On August 25, there were some preparatory activities such as communication tests, request for oil recovery vessels from the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), exercise simulation on Marine Training Center TRANSAS simulator, and claims and compensations working group meeting.

Exercise Scenario

On 26 August 2009, at 11.00 hrs. LT, M/T UTOPIA, during discharging operations at the Single Point Mooring Buoy of Midia Marine Terminal (MMT), about 14 Nm north from Constanta port, collides with the container ship M/V OVIDIUS.

As a consequence of the collision, two crew members of M/V OVIDIUS fall overboard and another gets seriously injured.

M/T UTOPIA is loaded with Siberian light crude oil. Following the collision, an oil spill occurres, four crew members fall overboard and two crew members on board the vessel, get seriously injured.

Midia Marine Terminal Local Oil Pollution Combating Plan is activated.

DISTRESS signal is received by Constanta MRCC through Radio Costal Station; the National SAR Plan is activated; all SAR actions are co-ordinated by Constanta MRCC in accordance with national procedures.

The aircraft nominated for aerial assessments of spilled area, ditches on the sea, requesting SAR assistance; National Aeronautical SAR. Co-ordination Centre activates the national procedures in case of aeronautical incident at sea, MRCC coordinates SAR activities at sea.

A large amount of oil spill occurs soon after the collision (abt. 5000 tons of crude oil), requiring tier 3 oil spill response, at national level first, both off shore and on shore. Romanian national oil pollution combating capacity being exceeded, international assistance is needed from the Black Sea littoral countries and the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). The Black Sea Regional Contingency Plan is activated. Romania acting as a lead country; National On Scene Commander - Constanta County Prefect, becomes Supreme On Scene Commander, coordinating the oil spill response through maritime and land divisions, in close cooperation with Joint Emergency Response Centre, until the end of response.

Turkish divers simulate the persons to be rescued, and the others recover these persons.

National Participation for Pollution Response

State companies under the Ministry of Transports and Infrastructure, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Administrations and Interiors, Ministry of National Defense participated in the process and private companies contributed with specialized equipment for beach cleaning.

International Participation

EMSA: GSP Orion and AKTEA OSRV - oil spill recovery vessels located in Constanta, Romania and Pireus, Greece

Specialized equipment for beach cleaning from Georgia and Turkey – four Turkish private companies – Aras, Mare, Meke and Seagull

Turkish Coast Guard patrol boat for area monitoring and SAR operations. 

International Observers

Representatives from all Black Sea littoral countries and the Black Sea Commission, International Maritime Organization (IMO), European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), European Commission Directorate-General for the Environment (EC-DGEnv), The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF), Oil Spill Response, P&I clubs, CPC Russian Federation, North Caspian Operating Company, SIGTTO.

Conclusions

The RODELTA 2009 Exercise was a great example for an excellent collaboration between different national and international organizations/institutions involved, including many private companies;

Public attention has been drawn to the efforts of the response authorities to protect human life in case of an incident, to protect the marine environment from pollution, to minimize the damages caused and thus to defend the country´s interests as a whole;

Events like RODELTA are great opportunities to draw the attention of politicians and different level decision-makers to the seriousness of the problems related to major oil pollution incidents, as well as to the importance of further planning and some investments in the fields of pollution preparedness, response and co-operation;

Combining SAR and oil spill response does not detract from regional exercises;

Perlite appears to make an excellent oil simulation substance. It was easily seen from the observer vessel, even though the vessel was considerably far (perhaps 1 km or more). The perlite remained on the surface for an adequate period (e.g. half and hour or more).

BSC - UBCCE Joint Conference at 5th World Water Forum

The World Water Forum is organized every three years by the World Water Council in close collaboration with the government of the host country. It is the largest international event in the field of water. After previous Fora in Morocco (1997), the Netherlands (2000), Japan (2003) and Mexico

(2006), the 5th World Water Forum was held between 16 - 22 March 2009 in Istanbul, Turkey. With its theme "Bridging Divides for Water", the Forum brought some thirty thousand participants from all over the world to Istanbul, the 2010 European Capital of Culture.

Within the framework of the Fifth World Water Forum, the Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution (BSC) along with the Union of Black Sea and Caspian Confederation of Enterprises (UBCCE) organized a joint internationational environment conference, titled "Cooperation on Environmental Protection for Sustainable Development in the Black Sea and Caspian", on March 17, with the contribution of the Caspian Environment Programme (CEP).

The Conference served as a platform where the environmental challenges in the Black Sea and Caspian regions and the ways to achieve the "Green Business" on a regional level were discussed.

The opening remarks were delivered by Mr. Musa Galip Eroglu, President of Turkish Industrialists´ and Businessmen´s Association (TUSIAD)´s Environmental Working Group, and Ms. Lubka Katchakova, the previous Deputy Minister of Environment and Water of Bulgaria and the Chairperson of the Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution.

The Black Sea Box Education Kit

The Black Sea Commission, jointly with United Nations Development Programme and the Coca-Cola Company, is supporting the creation of an education kit called "Black Sea Box" targeted for the children of 9-12 years of age living around the Black Sea.

The Black Sea Box will include interactive educational materials; a teacher´s guide, guide book CD, "Life in the Black Sea" poster, a Black Sea map poster and game cards to attract the attention of these school children in order to increase their awareness of the environmental issues threatening the Black Sea. All these components are currently in the phase of getting designed, whilst the game cards are ready. Publicity activities have started and will carry on until May 2010.

National ministries of education would be the natural partners of the project which intends to bring the Black Sea Box into the official curriculum as a complementary book. The participation of the WWF network in the Black Sea countries would add another dimension to the project and facilitate the coordination in each country at the national level.

The first phase of the project will focus on developing the master copy of the "Black Sea Box" in Turkish and English which will be presented to the Ministry of Education for the endorsement and inclusion into the curriculum and training the trainers in selected pilot schools located along the Black Sea coast of Turkey.

Teacher´s Guide Book and Cd

The "Teacher´s Guide" is the most important component of the Black Sea Box. The awareness of teachers is crucial for students to receive the best information. The Guide contains various chapters including "Biological life in the Black Sea", "How do we use the Black Sea?" and "Why it is important for us" as well as "The problems that the Black Sea is facing and potential solutions".

The Guide Book contains information on the flora, birds, fish species, the food chain, mammals and endangered species as well as sailing, archaeology, cultural elements, fishing and the impact of climate.

Additionally, a CD of the Guide Book will be available in the Box, enabling teachers to access information in an easy and quick manner.

Map Poster

A map showing the Black Sea, borders of the riparian countries and other water bodies such as lakes and major rivers in the region is also included in the Black Sea Box. It is intended for children to reinforce their knowledge about the Black Sea and broaden their geographical perception. The map will help students learn the location of each country around the Black Sea.

Game Cards

Another interesting component of the Black Sea Box is the "Game Cards". While becoming more aware of the biological life in the Black Sea through the cards containing pictures of 70 native species and simple questions introducing them, the children will discover new games with the cards that are designed to make them learn and enjoy at the same time.

Life in the Black Sea Poster

The Black Sea Box Education Kit will also contain a "Life in the Black Sea" poster. This poster will exhibit the names and pictures of all of the species illustrated on the game cards.

The ultimate impact of this project will be to:

Reach over 2,000,000 school kids aged between 9-12 in the six Black Sea countries

Increase the awareness of school children on environmental matters pertaining to the Black Sea ecosystems

Increase the capacity of teachers through the development of a Teacher´s Guide

Ensure sustainability of the project through the endorsement of the Education Ministries of the respective countries.

The project also has its own website, which was launched on 31 October 2009, the International Black Sea Action Day. It can be reached at www.blackseabox.org

2009 International Black Sea Action Day & 1st Marine Environment Workshop and Activities, Samsun, Turkey

2009 International Black Sea Action Day was celebrated on 30-31 October in the Turkish Black Sea coastal city of Samsun with activities jointly organized by the Turkish Ministry of Environment and Forest and the Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution (Black Sea Commission).

The main event was a two-day workshop where the threats facing the sea, efforts to cope with these threats in various fields and the current situation of the Black Sea were discussed.

The Georgian, Russian and Turkish Commissioners, as well as other members of the Turkish Ministry of Environment and Forestry, representatives from several international organizations including the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (PABSEC), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), European Commission Directorate General for the Environment, Regional Environmental Center (REC) and Environmental Collaboration for the Black Sea (ECBSea), governmental bodies, universities and NGOs participated in the joint workshop organized at the Omtel Hotel in Samsun. Almost 40 presentations were given in different sessions with the following titles: Environmental Situation of the Black Sea Region, Pollution Monitoring, Land-Based Pollution Sources, Pollution Originating from Vessel Traffic, Conservation of Biodiversity - Fisheries and Coastal Zone Management and Public Awareness Activities.

Black Sea Medalists

Within the framework of the celebrations, one individual from each of the Black Sea coastal states (i.e. Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine) was awarded the "Black Sea Medal" for their significant contribution to protecting the Black Sea ecosystem. Presented by the Black Sea Commission since 2006, the Award aims to support and encourage efforts to rehabilitate the ecosystem of the Black Sea and make it go back to its healthy state as in the 1960s, and especially emphasize the importance of individual efforts. The medalists were:

Ms. Stela Todorova Barova, Bulgaria

Ms. Todorova works as Senior Expert at "Monitoring, Prognosis and Information Assurance" Department, Black Sea Basin Directorate, Ministry of Environment and Water. She has been awarded for her determined work in the field of pollution prevention from land based sources and for active participation in the BSC work on further development of policy and legal documents dealing with Hot Spots.

Mr. Nodar Kontselidze, Georgia

Mr. Kontselidze is the Head of Biodiversity and Environmental Integrated Management of Department of Environment and Natural Resources of Adjara Autonomous Republic. He has been awarded especially for his successful work focused on waste solution, chemical materials and radiation safety.

Prof. Marian-Traian Gomoiu, Romania

Prof. Gomoiu works as Senior scientist 1st grade - Councilor, General Deputy Director at the National Institute of Marine Geology and Geoecology - GeoEcoMar; and Professor of Ecology at Ovidius University in Constan?a. He has been awarded for his outstanding work in the field of marine sciences for over 50 years.

Ms. Natalia Tretiakova,

the Russian Federation

Ms. Tretiakova has been the Commissioner representing the Russian Federation at the Black Sea Commission. She heads the Division of the Water Resources Cooperation of the Department for International Cooperation of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment. She has been awarded for her active participation in the work of the Black Sea Commission since 2002.

Prof. Halil Ibrahim Sur, Turkey

Prof. Sur has been lecturing at the Istanbul University, Institute of Marine Sciences and Management since 1999. He has been awarded for his scientific work of many years committed to the Black Sea, including his lead role in the successful pollution monitoring program covering 66 stations along the southern Black Sea.

Prof. Yuvenaly Petrovich Zaitsev, Ukraine

Prof. Zaitsev works as Chief Scientist at the Odessa Branch of the Department of Hydrobiology of the Active Marine Zones at the Institute of Biology of Southern Seas. He has been the Vice-President of the Ukrainian Hydroecological Society since 1993, and has been a Member of the General Biology Division of the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences since 1969. He has been awarded for his extensive work in the field of marine sciences throughout his life of 85 years, most of which has been dedicated to the Black Sea.

The two-day workshop was followed with an excursion to the new center for bird observation in the K?z?l?rmak Delta built by the Turkish Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

The activities resulted in increased visibility of the Black Sea Commission in various media including newspapers, TV and internet.

ECBSea closes after 2.5 years of successful efforts in the Black Sea Region

The EU-funded Environmental Collaboration for the Black Sea Project, which was launched on 29 March 2007, finally came to an end in December 2009. The project´s overall objective was to contribute to the sustainable development of the Black Sea Basin by prevention and reduction of pollution in the Black Sea (from river discharges or direct discharges), and sustainable management of natural resources and protection of biodiversity of the Black Sea basin.

This Project was implemented by the Consortium of Euroconsult Mott MacDonald (The Netherlands), Mott MacDonald Ltd (UK) and Milieu Ltd. (Belgium). It was working in close cooperation with the Black Sea Commission (BSC) and its Permanent Secretariat, which coordinates the activities of the international partners focused at the implementation of the Bucharest Convention, its protocols and major implementation tools, such as the Odessa and Sofia Ministerial Declarations (1993, 2009) and the Strategic Action Plan on the Rehabilitation and Protection of the Black Sea (BS-SAP, last updated in 2009).

 

The ECBSea Project was a fruitful project which produced several important documents including Draft Text of Amendments to the Bucharest Convention, Guidelines for the Establishment of Marine Protected Areas in the Black Sea, Background paper for the regional NGO workshop: "The Bucharest Convention: How to improve transparency and accountability?", Draft Law of Ukraine on Coastal Zone, Designation Dossier for the Establishment of the Marine Protected Area in the Black Sea, Ukraine, Preliminary Management Plan for the Small Phylophora Field Marine Protected Area Karkinitsky Bay for Ukraine, Water Sector Convergence Plan (Road Map) for the four EU Directives for Georgia, Concept for the New Framework Water Law of Georgia, Integrated Coastal Zone Management Strategy for Georgia.

Wrap-Up Conference on 28-29 October 2009

On 28-29 October 2009, the ECBSea Wrap-Up Conference took place in Istanbul, Turkey. This Conference served as a final international event to present the project outputs and achievements as well as to discuss the best practices and lessons learned. Representatives from the European Commission in Brussels, EC Delegation to Ukraine, members of the BSC Permanent Secretariat, other project beneficiaries, key experts, national team leaders, national experts in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine participated in this event.

The conference covered sessions titled as "Convergence with EU legislation", "Bucharest Convention - ensuring public participation", "Establishment of marine reserves in the Black Sea", "ICZM experience in the Black Sea region", and panel discussions.

Environmental Monitoring of the Black Sea Basin: Monitoring and Information Systems for Reducing Oil Pollution (MONINFO)

The First International Conference MONINFO is a 2 years (2009 - 2010) project, funded by the European Commission (EC) after approval by the European Parliament (EP). The need for such a project was brought to the attention of EP by the member of the European Parliament Ms. Marusya Lyubcheva.

The project is implemented by the Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea against Pollution (BSC) and beneficiaries are all riparian Black Sea countries.

Why Is This Project Imortant?

Since the ratification of the Bucharest Convent by 1994, a substantial increase in sea-borne transportation of not only general goods and passengers, but also raw oil and refined petroleum products has taken place and is predicted to continue in the near future. This increase in sea-borne transportation enhances the risk of serious accidents at sea that could have dramatic impacts on the fragile marine environment of the Black Sea and the livelihood of the people living around it.

A regional mechanism for exchange and dissemination of data and information related to shipping traffic, movement of oil & oil products, ongoing and future activities related to oil production, storage and transportation combined with up-to-date information on preparedness and response to oil spills would greatly reduce the risk of oil spills and its impact in the Black Sea region.

Objectives

Within this long term policy approach, and in support of decision making toward reduction/elimination of oil pollution in the Black Sea, the project pursues the following objectives:

Improved information system for combating oil pollution

Enhanced monitoring system of operational and accidental pollution

Enhanced response capabilities, including risk management and emergency preparedness planning

During the period of 12 months, several organizational tasks were implemented as:

dissemination of a questionnaire among the members of AG ESAS in order to gather information necessary for creation of the Regional Database and Information Platform (RDIP),

a meeting of the Expert Working Group on the Black Sea AIS were organized,

the second phase of MONINFO project was developed with practical actions related to support responsible authorities for mitigation and counteraction activities in case of oil spill on the sea surface and monitoring of oil pollution at sea,

the project staff started to negotiate works on two major subcontracts - one for application of the Seatrack Web for the Black Sea and the other for provision of satellite surveillance for all of the Black Sea countries,

The BSC is in close cooperation with the EC DGs, JRC, EMSA, EEA, IMO, HELCOM, REMPEC, OSPRI etc for this project.

Moninfo 2nd Phase

A project proposal for the second phase of the project MONINFO has been developed. The second phase is oriented to operational aspects in facilitating and support of monitoring and information management of oil pollution in the Black Sea region. MONINFO 2 consists of the following work-packages:

WP 1. RDIP and Expert System on oil pollution mitigation and counteraction activities,

WP 2. Application of a Web based model for oil pollution forecasting for the Black Sea,

WP 3. Regional Black Sea AIS data server,

WP 4. Remote sensing monitoring of oil pollution,

WP 5. Capacity building and sustainability.

EnviroGRIDS at Black Sea Catchment: A new way to observe our planet

The Black Sea Commission along with ICPDR is among the 27 international partners of an FP7 Project entitled "Building Capacity for a Black Sea Catchment Observation and Assessment System Supporting Sustainable Development" (briefly EnviroGRIDS). The aim is to create a state-of-the art monitoring and assessment system to be deployed for the Black Sea basin. The system is aimed at assisting governments and communities track and respond to environmental trends in one of the world´s most famous and economically-important inland water bodies.

The 4-year collaboration research project has been officially launched at the University of Geneva, Switzerland with the project kick-off meeting in April 2009. This 8 million euro project, to which the European Commission is contributing 6.2 million Euros, will deploy the latest observation and environmental assessment technologies across the Black Sea catchment - a region covering about 2 million km2, 23 countries and more than 160 million people.

The Black Sea Catchment is internationally known for its severe environmental, social and economic problems. The EnviroGRIDS project addresses these issues by bringing several emerging information technologies that are revolutionizing the way we observe our planet. The Group on Earth Observation Systems of Systems (GEOSS) is building a data-driven view of our planet that feeds into models and scenarios to explore our past, present and future. EnviroGRIDS aims at building the capacity of scientist to assemble such a system in the Black Sea Catchment, the capacity of decision-makers to use it, and the capacity of the general public to understand the important environmental, social and economic issues at stake.

To achieve its objectives, EnviroGRIDS will build a Grid-enabled Spatial Data Infrastructure (GSDI) able to utilize possibilities of a big international computer-grid network linked through the famous CERN centre in Switzerland to carry out simulations. EnviroGRIDS will become one of the integral systems in GEOSS compatible with the new EU directive on Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Union (INSPIRE).

The EnviroGRIDS project is coordinated by the University of Geneva and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). It will particularly target the needs of the Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution (BSC) and the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) in order to help bridging the gap between science and policy. The Permanent Secretariat of the Black Sea Commission based in Istanbul will be coordinating and performing the gap analysis task, taking part in end-user communication and in decision-makers and policy involvement, and also co-organizing the final project conference in Istanbul jointly with other partners.

The first leaflet with the project factsheets has been published in 14 languages of the Black Sea catchment countries, and is available for downloading at the project web site (http:// www.envirogrids.net). The first workshop of EnviroGRIDS will be organized at the Project General Assembly to be held in Tulcea, Romania in April-May 2010, focusing on a high level course on GEOSS and INSPIRE and a technical course on SDI.

Bsc´s Expectations

SESAME Project: "Southern European Seas: Assessing and Modelling Ecosystem Changes"

SESAME aims to assess and predict changes in the Southern European Seas (Mediterranean and Black Sea) ecosystems and in their ability to provide key goods and services with high societal importance, such as tourism, fisheries, ecosystem biodiversity and mitigation of climate change through carbon sequestration in water and sediments. The assessments are based on the identification of major regime shifts in ecosystems that have taken place in the last 50 years. Mathematical models, validated and upgraded using existing and new observations, are used to predict ecosystem responses to changes in climate and anthropogenic forcings (based on consensus scenarios) during the next five decades.

The project merges economic and natural sciences, providing an integrated, ecosystem-based approach, considering Mediterranean and Black Sea as a coupled climatic/ecosystem entity, with links and feedbacks to the World Ocean. Multidisciplinary cruises are conducted creating snapshots of the physical, chemical and biological processes in the Mediterranean and Black Seas at present. SESAME also provides a platform for training, education and outreach in an integrated manner, which will ensure that the scientific results are translated and disseminated to all levels of society (http://www.sesame-ip.eu/doc/Sesame_2nd_newsletter.pdf).

The SESAME Consortium comprises 47 partners from 62 institutes and 380 highly qualified scientists in total, establishing a modeling and observational network beyond country and basin borders. The project is managed by the Hellenic Center for Marine Research (http://www.hcmr.gr/) and the project manager is Dr. Vangelis Papathanassiou, helped by Dr. Eleni Kaberi and Dr. Nikos Streftaris.

Two SESAME scientific workshops have taken place so far to present and discuss the project outcomes. The second workshop was organized in Villefranche sur Mer, France in November 2009 back to back with the General Assembly (GA) and Advisory Boards meetings. 55 presentations were given and 30 posters presented during the workshop, revealing the results achieved so far and problems to be solved. The GA meeting evaluated the progress of work and outlined future actions, agreeing on the need of further integration of scientific results and synthetical deliverables to be produced at the end of the project. (http://www.sesame-ip.eu/)

The BSC plans to have the third Black Sea Bi-annual Scientific Conference jointly with the final SESAME Conference in April 2011.

CaspINFO: "Caspian environmental and industrial data and information service (2008-2011)"

CaspINFO is an FP7 EU funded project, which started on 1st of September 2008, duration 30 months (www.caspinfo.net). The main objectives of this project are:

1. To initiate and establish a co-operative Caspian Sea, trans-national Information Network of representatives of marine environmental data & information centres/services, governmental stakeholders and the oil & gas industry within the Caspian Sea countries, that will strengthen the quality, service and overall performance of marine environmental and industrial data & information management, both on regional, national and international level.

2. Development and establishment of an Internet based Caspian Data & Information Service to improve the implementation of integrated (environmental, industrial and administrative) management information, and  to provide a tool for effective exchange of information, accessibility of data & and information, and communication".

CASPINFO will provide access to high quality, up-to-date marine, environmental datasets on metadata level, and it will even go as far as direct access to partners data itself.

For the BSC the CaspINFO project is a cooperation example to be utilized under the MONINFO project. Therefore, dissemination of the CaspINFO project deliverables to the Black Sea region, conveying messages and lessons are among the tasks of the BSC in 2009-2011.

The project is managed by MARIS (http://www.maris.nl/) and the project manager is Mr. Peter Davis.

At this stage of the CaspINFO project an inventory is being made of the possibilities to deliver and availability of datasets per partner. The third CaspINFO progress meeting took place on 24-27 November 2009 in Athens, Greece, kindly hosted by the Hellenic Center for Marine Research (partner in the project).  The project partners (17 Institutions) reported results of their work in collection of metadata and development of the Internet based Caspian Data & Information Service.

UP-GRADE Black Sea Scene

The UP-GRADE Black Sea Scene is an FP7 EU funded project running from 2009 to 2011. Including the Black Sea Commission, UP-GRADE BS-SCENE is undertaken by 51 partners of which 43 are located in the Black Sea countries. The main output of the project will be on-line access to in-situ and remote sensing data, meta-data and products managed by project partners. The project web site (http://www.blackseascene.net/welcome.asp) provides Metadata and Data Access Services for retrieving information about research cruises,projects, organizations, scientists, datasets, observations, etc related to the Black Sea.

The predecessor - Black Sea SCENE project - has established a Black Sea Scientific Network of leading environmental and socio-economic research institutes, universities and NGO´s from the countries around the Black Sea and developed a distributed virtual data and information infrastructure that is populated and maintained by these organizations to improve the identification, access, exchange, quality indication and use of their data and information about the Black Sea. The UP-GRADE Black Sea Scene project will extend the existing research infrastructure with an additional 19 marine environmental institutes / organizations from the 6 Black Sea countries.

Common communication standards  and standardized methodologies for data quality checking will be applied to ensure the quality, compatibility and coherence of the data issuing from so many sources. For these purposes the project organized comprehensive training for data managers from all partner organizations. The training was held at the UNESCO IODE Project Office in Ostende, Belgium in October 2009.

In the framework of UP-Grade BSS, on 15 - 16 December 2008, the leading Mnemiopsis data holders from the Black Sea countries gathered under the auspices of the Permanent Secretariat of the Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution (BSC/PS) to discuss the issues of creation and maintenance of the joint Black Sea Mnemiopsis leidyi (ML) - Beroe ovata (BO) Data Base in Istanbul.

After presentations (available at http://bss.ibss.org.ua/), participants discussed an issue of the data policy and possible restrictions applied to the data dissemination. All participants confirmed that metadata have no restriction and can be disseminated freely.

Participants agreed on the data policy and rules of use of the ML-BO-DB stated in the document "The Principles for Creation and Procedures for Future Utilization of the Black Sea Mnemiopsis Leidyi and Beroe Ovata Data Base" that was preliminarily sent to the workshop participants. Main changes proposed to the initial document were the following:

The condition of storage of the third backup copy of the ML-BO-DB in BSC/PS was added. Participants also proposed a number of corrections to the metadata and data submission formats aiming to provide more complete and precise information on sampling methods and conditions.

Then participants discussed the issues of identification, sampling and sample processing of gelatinous macro plankton in the Black Sea. Taking into account variety of methods, used by different scientists, participants came to the conclusion that further development of the common methodology is one of the first priority steps. The methodology also has to include such issues as compatibility of results obtained with different nets or different calculation formula, taking into account wire angle and flow-meter data, etc.

The workshop asked Z. Ozdemir with consultancy of Dr. E.Mutlu to draft the methodology by the end of February, 2009. Then this methodology will be circulated among leading zooplankton scientists through BSC/PS for remarks and comments. Upon approval of the methodology at the regular BSC Conservation of Bio-Diversity (CBD) group meeting it will be recommended for use in all Black Sea countries.

Finally participants approved the meeting decisions and action plan for the 2009.

Next ML DB workshop is planned to be organized jointly with BSC CBD Advisory Group meeting preferably back to back with forthcoming BSS UPGRADE project meeting tentatively in September 2009.

Euro Argo - Black Sea Meeting

The Euro Argo Project launched its first platform through the the Euro Argo Black Sea Meeting held on December 7- 8th, in the Institute of Oceanology of Varna (Bulgaria).

The objective was to discuss the setting up of an Argo program in the Black Sea as part of the Euro Argo. The meeting was hosted by IO-BAS with representatives from Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia and Turkey. http://www.euro-argo.eu/news_and_events/news_and_events_2009/euro_argo_black_sea_meeting

Information about other important projects implemented in the Black Sea region with the participation (some in advisory capacity) of the BSC is available at the WEB page of the BSC: http://www.blacksea-commission.org/_projects_observers_partners.asp.

A green turtle in the middle of the Turkish Black Sea coast

by Arda M. Tonay/TUDAV

On 7 December 2009, a female green turtle (Chelonia mydas) was bycaught alive in the turbot bottom gill nets 1.5 nautical miles off the coast of Yakaoren village of the Turkish city of Kastamonu located in the middle of the Turkish Black Sea coast. The turtle died the following day. This is the first reported record of a green turtle in the Turkish Black Sea, but not for the entire Black Sea. The body of the turtle will be brought to Istanbul by the Turkish Marine Research Foundation (TUDAV) for examination.

Sea turtles are observed very rarely in the Black Sea, but occurrences are well known in the western part. Nankinov (1995-98) compiled a total of five loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) field observation cases, reported in Bulgaria and Romania from 1898 to 1987. Three loggerheads were observed near the southern coast of Bulgaria. As noted by Nankinov, Cvetkova (1995) mentioned that French noble Francois de Pavie, Baron de Fourquevaux, went on a cruise on a galley, from Istanbul (Turkey) to Balchik (Bulgaria) in 1585. He noted that they often saw large numbers of marine turtles during the trip. Nankinov supposes that loggerhead turtles were an ancient inhabitant species of the Black Sea, and in the past they could migrate between the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea seasonally. According to Valkanov et al. (1978), there have not been any reports of sea turtles observed along the Soviet coasts. Also, they have not been observed along the coast of Ukraine for several decades (personal communication with Dr.Yu. Zaitsev).

Turtles are known as vagrant species which can be observed outside their normal range. Observation of green turtles in the Black Sea may be considered as vagrancy. But to understand this phenomenon, more detailed researches are needed.

References

Nankinov, D.M. 1995-98. Occurrence of marine turtles (Caretta caretta and Chelonia mydas) along the west Black Sea coast. Bulletin of Natural History Museum, Belgrade, B49-50: 7-14.

Valkanov, A., Marinov, Kh., Danov, Kh., Vladev, P. 1978. Black Sea. Gheorghi Bakalov Publ. Varna. pp 232 (in Bulgarian)

Photo by: Semih Yuksel A.A.