ARE MPAs READY FOR LARGE OIL SPILLS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN AND BLACK SEAS?
The Mediterranean and Black Seas are one of the main routes for the global transportation of petrol or crude oil. There are constant flows of tankers and other large vessels day and night. Unfortunately, several fatal and environmentally disastrous accidents have happened in the past, such as the Nassia accident in the Istanbul Strait in 1994 and Volgoneft 139 sunk in the Kerch Strait in 2007 due to a heavy storm. Not only human health was at risk, but the coastal habitats were polluted and marine life, such as sea birds and dolphins, were negatively affected. Strengthening the capacities of the coastal states with a view to preventing pollution of the marine environment from ship accidents is crucial for our seas where ecosystems are already in danger due to various human activities, such as overfishing, habitat destruction, waste discharge....to name a few. There are surveillance systems worldwide to monitor oil spills, sensitivity mappings and contingency plans have been developed in the coastal states of the Mediterranean and Black Seas to combat oil spills in case of accidents. In reality, however, if a large-scale oil spill happens in or close to an Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), we are not sure the managers or relevant authorities of MPAs are prepared to take immediate actions. An EU-funded CoCoNet (Towards Coast to Coast Network of Marine Protected Areas Coupled with Sea-based Wind Energy Potential) Project tackles this issue for the purpose of creating more effective system to protect MPAs from large scale oil spills. Simulations have been carried out on an oil spill using different models, effects of oil spills and legal frameworks to prevent oil spills were reviewed, and recommendtions were made within the CoCoNet Project.
A realistic and comprehensive contingency plan is necessary for each MPA. An operational task force including a team of experts is important to combat the incident. Moreover, the direction and speed of oil spill have to be carefully predicted based on the suitable models, so that all the actions will be as effective as possible.
Needless to say, considering the fact that ships travel across borders and their flags can be of any state in the world, international and regional cooperation is needed to prevent accidents, thus oil spills, in particularly sensitive areas such as MPAs.
Intense marine traffic in the Mediterranean and Black Seas
Oil spills pollute beautiful coasts and damage ecosyetm