CoCoNET Press Release 18

August, 2013 

 The Black Sea is one of the anoxic basins on the planet and its water renewal and exchange is only possible through the narrow Istanbul Strait from the Mediterranean Sea. This unique case makes it more vulnerable in terms of marine biodiversity and ecosystem. Besides, the Black Sea faces several problems, such as overfishing, IUU (illegal, unregulated and unreported) fishing, ship-originated pollution like oil spills and bilge water, intentional and unintentional introduction of alien species by various vectors, eutrophication, marine litter, habitat destruction and modification, as well as climate change. One of solutions for the recovery of healthy ecosystem is to designate Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in certain areas of ecologically or biologically significance in the Black Sea. In the 2nd Joint Pilot Projects Meeting of the EC FP7 project “CoCoNet” held in Odessa, 29-30 July 2013, the scientists from two Pilot Projects (Eastern Black Sea and the Southern Adriatic Sea) presented research results about potential changes in riverine hydrology, coastal vulnerability to impacts of sea level rise and storms, effects of potential changes in maritime traffic, oil spill, effect of invasive species, fishery activities and the protection of the ecosystem. They also shared and discussed information about SWOT analysis of aquaculture and potential of offshore wind farms, multiscale geological, biological and oceanographic mapping in different habitats like in shallow and deep water areas in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. One of the main discussion topics was if Phyllophora beds will be protected or not.

Aggregations of red agarophyte algae of genus Phyllophora found in the North-Western part of the Black Sea (known as the Large and Small Phyllophora fields) are unique marine biocenoses – small ecological communities. The area of the Small Phyllophora field is known by its high diversity of flora and fauna. Both Small and Large Phyllophora fields are places of birth and development of many species of aquatic organisms. The Phyllophora Field once provided a habitat to 118 invertebrate species 47 fish species.

Most of these fish and invertebrate species enrich fauna of other areas of the Black Sea via dispersion. The biggest of these sites – the Large Phyllophora field (or "Zernov’s Phyllophora field”) - was declared by President of Ukraine the object of nature reserve fund of Ukraine in November 2008. This is the first offshore, fully marine protected area in the Black Sea. To protect the Black Sea for future generations, however, many more marine protected areas are needed.

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