Black Sea

Black Sea

Please note that this section of the EU MSP Platform website is not currently being updated with new information. However, the resources throughout our website remain relevant to our mission of sharing knowledge and experiences on MSP in the EU.

General Introduction to the Black Sea

The Black Sea is strategically located in Southeastern Europe on the borders of Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East. It occupies an area of 436,400 km2, excluding the Sea of Azov. There are 6 littoral states, including 2 EU member states: Bulgaria and Romania, and 4 non-member states: Georgia, the Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine. The Black Sea is connected to the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean via the Aegean Sea and the Sea of Marmara. The Sea of Azov drains into the Black Sea through the Kerch Strait.

Two of the largest rivers in Europe in terms of discharge – the Danube and Dniepr – flow into the Black Sea, which, together with the fact that the Black Sea is connected to the World Ocean only through the narrow Bosphorus Strait, accounts for the low levels of salinity of the sea water. In addition, the deeper layers of water in the Black Sea do not mix with the upper layers, which receive oxygen from the atmosphere, and, as a result, the deeper layers of water are for the most part anoxic.

The Black Sea region is an economic area with a potential for growth and an important transport and energy hub. The tourist sector also bears importance for the littoral states and accounts for a significant share of the generated GDP. Fishing and aquaculture also represent important economic activities for the littoral states. The combination of different human activities performed in the same maritime area requires good planning, so as to avoid conflicts and to create synergies between sectors, which serves to underscore the importance of cooperating on MSP issues.

Relevant Black Sea MSP institutions and structures

The Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution (Black Sea Commission)

The Black Sea Commission was established with the entry into force of the Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution, which was signed in Bucharest in 1992. The Commission ensures that the provisions of the Convention are respected and acts on the implementation of the Black Sea Strategic Action Plan.

Black Sea cooperation on MSP

Maritime spatial planning is an initiative that is yet to be fully incorporated into maritime policy making in the Black Sea region.

Historical speaking MSP was introduced at the regional level starting with the Plan Coast Project in Bulgaria and Romania, which were preparing for pre-accession at that time. MSP was from the beginning part of ICZM, as tool for sustainable development and integrated management. Cooperating in the frame of the Black Sea Commission, as part of its Advisory Group on the Development of Common Methodologies for Integrated Coastal Zone Management ICZM, MSP was taken into account in the elaboration of different regional ICZM documents. Romania has been the single one having an ICZM Law, and a National Committee of Coastal Zone under the Ministry of Environment, Waters and Forests, Bucharest.

Starting with in 2012, the cooperation for MSP was raised in the Black Sea with the following main objectives under discussion:

  • Common minimum requirements for maritime spatial plans and integrated coastal,     
  • Specific minimum requirements for maritime spatial plans,
  • Specific minimum requirements for integrated coastal management strategies,
  • inventory of existing measures,
  • integrated and cross-sectorial policy,
  • purpose and aims of  a plan,

In 2013, the first inventory of Black Sea MSP was started by the ICZM Project “Black Sea CBC – Joint Operational Program” regarding national policies for marine space, data collection and information exchange, cooperation with Member States, and cooperation with third countries.

Some international projects included, partially or integrally, MSP based on the MSP Directive elaborated in 2014. These permitted the development of collaborations between Black Sea countries in different consortiums.

The project MARSPLAN is important in this respect, as it includes the development of a full-fledged, formal maritime spatial plan for the cross-border area of Mangalia-Shabla (Romania and Bulgaria). This is a pilot project, which will provide impetus to the Black Sea cooperation on MSP. It includes for the first time the elaboration of MSP Methodology, legislation, rules, indicators, strategy, integrated maps and National Plans for Bulgaria and Romania as Member States. Their experience can be enlarged and spread around the whole Black Sea, to the other neighbouring countries.

Related Transnational, Non-sectorial Organisations & Policies

Black Sea Synergy

The Black Sea Synergy is an EU-led regional cooperation framework for the Black Sea littoral states. The Synergy functions as a forum for the discussion of common problems and is meant to provide policy guidance in the implementation of joint initiatives, such as MSP.

Organisation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC)

BSEC is a regional economic organisation, which fosters multilateral political and economic initiatives. It includes 12 member states, all of them bordering the Black Sea with the exception of Serbia. The organisation does not have a specific thematic focus and supports activities in a wide range of policy fields.

Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB)

The Black Sea Trade and Development Bank is an international financial institution with a focus on the Black Sea region. The bank is envisaged as a supporting mechanism for regional cooperation and economic development through lending, guarantees and equity participation in private enterprises and public entities in the member countries.

Black Sea Cross-Border Cooperation

In December 2015 the European Commission adopted the Joint Operational Programme Black Sea Basin 2014-2020. The Programme is funded under the European Neighbourhood Instrument Cross Border Cooperation and will contribute to a stronger and sustainable economic and social development of the regions of the Black Sea Basin by funding projects to promote business and entrepreneurship within the Black Sea Basin and to promote coordination of environmental protection and joint reduction of marine litter in the Black Sea Basin.

Black Sea NGO Network (BSNN)

The Black Sea NGO Network is a regional association of NGOs, whose focus is centred on the preservation of the environment and the achievement of a sustainable development. The association includes more than 60 members, who aim to facilitate the free flow and exchange of information, resources and good practices across the countries of the Black Sea region.

Relevant Sector Organisations


GFCM Working Group on the Black Sea (WGBS)

Black Sea Commission Activity Centers: Black Sea Regional Activity Centre for Environmental Aspects of Fisheries and other Marine Living Resources Management (RAC FOMLRM)

Shipping and Ports

European Community Ship owners’ Associations (ECSA)

Black Sea Commission Activity Centers: Environmental and Safety Aspects of Shipping, Varna Bulgaria (AC ESAS)

Nature Protection

The Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution (Black Sea Commission)

Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS)

Black Sea Commission Activity Centers: Pollution Monitoring and Assessment, Odessa, Ukraine (AC PMA)

Black Sea Commission Activity Centers: Conservation of Biological Diversity, Batumi, Georgia (AC CBD)

Black Sea Commission Activity Centers: Control of Pollution from Land Based Sources, Istanbul, Turkey (AC LBS)

Offshore Renewable Energy

Black Sea Commission Activity Centers: Information and Data Management, Permanent Secretariat, Istanbul, Turkey (AC  IDB)

Black Sea Commission Activity Centers: Development of Common Methodologies for Integrated Coastal Zone Management, Krasnodar, Russian Federation


GFCM Working Group on the Black Sea (WGBS)

Black Sea Commission Activity Centers: Black Sea Regional Activity Centre for Environmental Aspects of Fisheries and other Marine Living Resources Management (RAC FOMLRM)


Please see Black Sea Commission website

Scientific Research

National Institute for Marine Research and Development Grigore Antipa, Constanta

Danube Delta National Institute  for Research and Development, Tulcea

National Institute of Geology and Geo-ecology, Constanta Branch , GeoEcoMar,

University Ovidius,  Constanta

Maritime University, Constanta

Naval Academy Constanta

Institute of Oceanology – Varna, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

Institute of Fishing Resources - Varna

Black Sea SCENE:Black Sea Scientific Network