Eighty-nine percent of the Black Sea contaminated

A study of the Black Sea has revealed that 89% of its waters are contaminated, and the main source of the pollution has been revealed as the River Danube.

Despite the perception that oil spills are the main threat to the sea, shared between Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria and Georgia, a recent study listed the Danube River as a major polluter of the Black Sea, being responsible for more than half the pollutants that endanger the sea’s ecology. According to the Association of the Environment in the Balkans, responsible for the report, the environment surrounding the Black Sea is worsening, with 89% of the sea’s water contaminated.

The Greece-based organisation said that water up to a depth of 150 metres show signs of eutrophication, reducing oxygen content in the sea water to a minimum, causing serious depletion of aquatic resources. Besides pollution from the Danube River and others that empty into the Sea, oil spills from ocean-going vessels constitute another major environmental hazard.

The Black Sea has an estimated annual passage volume of 50,000 ships, and in the last year oil spills caused by accidents and navigation in defiance of regulations reached 110,000 tonnes.

According to the report, the worsening ecology in the Black Sea has reduced the number of fish species to 3,775, less than half that found in the adjacent Mediterranean. At present, seals and two species of dolphins are on the verge of extinction from the Sea.

All the countries bordering the Black Sea recently established a joint naval force to protect the environment and humanitarian operations, at a time when oil tanker traffic is increasing dramatically (see related story).

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