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Conservation and protection of the Black Sea through new MPAs


Harmonization of policies required to identify, designate and manage MPAs.Development of a work programme aimed at identifying, designating, and improving effective management of protected areas (coastal and/or marine).

Application in MSP:
Type of Issue:
Type of practice:
Stage of MSP cycle:
Cross-border / trans-national aspect:
Coherence with other processes:
Key words:

Implementation context

The Conservation and protection of the Black Sea through establishment of new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) was developed in the frame of MISIS project - MSFD GUIDING IMPROVEMENTS IN THE BLACK SEA INTEGRATED MONITORING SYSTEM. The overall goal of the project is to support efforts to protect and restore the environmental quality and sustainability of the Black Sea and also to develop a national integrated monitoring program in line with MSFD standards.


Purpose of the report is to trace the progress in the beneficiary states toward the marine areas protection and the Biodiversity and Landscape Conservation Protocol enforcement and in this context to specifically review the level of designation in each beneficiary country of MPAs, the management plans in place and the effectiveness of their implementation, including legal, policy and technical aspects of planning transboundary areas in the Black Sea for designation as protected.


The beneficiary countries have a rather long-standing tradition in the domain of protected areas. The commencement of this environmental activity started already in the beginning of the last century for terrestrial ecosystems. Specialized legislation exists in the countries; however, the designation of coastal and marine protected areas is not equally well advanced. Besides, the Biodiversity Action Plans available are not specific for the Black Sea. There are no specific national Red Data Books for the Black Sea as well. The regional one has not been updated since 1998.

The criteria for selection of MPAs are based on relevant national and international Acts (Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitat and of wild flora and fauna; Convention on the conservation of European wild life and natural habitats, Bern, 1979; IMO Resolution A.982 (24) for the identification and designation of particularly sensitive sea areas, 2005 and a number of IUCN guidelines for MPAs designation and management (Kelleher G. & Kenchington R., 1992; EC, 2000; Saim et al. 2000).

In this report, priority is given to ecological criteria as the MISIS project objective is identification of MPAs for the purposes of biodiversity protection/conservation that encompass for Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey:

  • Uniqueness or rarity
  • Representativeness/ Replication
  • Precautionary design
  • Viability/ Permanence
  • Diversity
  • Naturalness
  • Dependency
  • Critical habitats
  • Vulnerability
  • Representative and outstanding seascapes and features or non-living nature
  • Connectivity
  • Scientific and educational criteria

Main outputs/Results

All three countries have established protected areas in marine part, the categories of protection being quite similar. The process of designing protected areas has been carried out mostly in the frame of Natura 2000 in Bulgaria and Romania and Emerald Network and RAMSAR Convention in Turkey. Bulgaria already has an overall of 15 marine protected areas, which comprise parts of both marine and terrestrial environment. Currently, several are being in the process of extension (6 sites) while proposals for 3 new sites have been elaborated. Romania has 2 marine protected areas, the greatest being the marine part of Danube Delta Biosphere, which also have a management plan in place, 8 sites under Habitat Directive and one under Birds Directive. Turkey proposed 6 RAMSAR sites and deltas on the coast of Black Sea.

MISIS project deals with the gaps in relation to MPAs in the Black Sea region, including the lack of transboundary MPAs. The project initiated a pilot study in an area which was seen as eligible to become the first transboundary MPA in the Black Sea. The area is around the Bulgarian-Turkish border. On the Turkish side the area is named İğneada and on the Bulgaria side this is the Strandzha coast.

Despite the availability of best practices in nature conservation governance worldwide and of numerous guidelines for protected areas management, incorporating them into national law and policy remains a challenge. This report assesses the MPAs-related legislation and policies in Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey. The ‘gaps’ identified include areas where legislation and policy are missing. Furthermore, the mismatches between the written law/policy and what is being applied in practice by local people are also discussed. It is demonstrated that compliance with acting law and policy requires better control and development of economic incentives.


The draft regional BS Biodiversity Action Plan calls for designation of TBAs (Transboundary Protected Areas) which currently do not exist in the Black Sea.  The implementation of the regional plan would require not only the designation of TBAs, but also the development and implementation of bilateral management plans with distributed responsibilities in between two neighbouring states.

Contact person

Laura Boicenco

National Institute for Marine Research and Development “Grigore Antipa” Constanta

Department of Ecology and Marine Biology (lboicenco[at]alpha[dot]rmri[dot]ro)

Responsible entity

National Institute for Marine Research and Development “Grigore Antipa” Constanta, Romania

Funding source

Project financed by EC as an activity under EC DG Env. Programme “Preparatory/ Action – Environmental monitoring of the Black Sea basin and a common European framework programme for development of the Black Sea region/ Black Sea and Mediterranean 2011”. Direct costs of the practice's elaboration are unknown.