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Photo: Project EMBLAS - Environment Monitoring in the Black Sea: How healthy is our Black Sea?
The European Union maritime boundaries reached the shores of the Black Sea in 2007 with the accession of Bulgaria and Romania. In the same year, the EU launched the Black Sea Synergy initiative for developing better regional cooperation involving Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Romania, the Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine.
As a milestone for the initiative, the EU released the third implementation report that assesses the impact of the work done in the wider Black Sea region between 2015 and 2018.
According to the report, over recent years the countries bordering the Black Sea have become increasingly interested in working on maritime affairs, with particular focus on blue growth, marine research and innovation, and preservation of their marine environment. The 2018 Burgas declaration "Towards a Common Maritime Agenda for the Black Sea" and the 2018 Vision Paper for marine research and innovation are significant milestones that paved the way for more structured and pragmatic cooperation based on mutual priorities.
Fisheries are particularly important for the coastal communities in the Black Sea region as they provide food and income that help build local economies. At the initiative of the EU, concrete measures have been set in place under the 2016 Bucharest and 2018 Sofia Declarations to better manage turbot fisheries, to fight illegal fishing and to preserve aquaculture in the Black Sea over the next 10 years.
Further on, the Black Sea countries are now also committed to establishing better cooperation between each other, notably in the areas of environment protection, cross-border cooperation, research and innovation, beyond marine, and engaging with the civil society.
The Black Sea remains one of the seas most heavily impacted by human activities in the world. Since 2013, the EU has supported the ‘Improving Environmental Monitoring in the Black Sea’ project that has among other issues launched an online Black Sea water quality database that gives much better information about the state of the sea.