4 countries. One common sea … Black Sea 4 workshops. One common problem … Marine Litter
Any waste disposed of inadvertently, accidentally or intentionally has the potential to become marine litter whether it is discharged directly into the marine or coastal environment, or it reaches here through the rivers, flowing into seas and oceans. Coming from various terrestrial or maritime activities, the main factor that leads to their emergence is … man. Marine litter is found in all seas and coastal areas around the world, on coastal area or floating on the water, from surface to the bottom of the sea, posing a threat to fauna and ecosystems, as well as to human health and livelihood. In the Black Sea, marine litter is mainly generated by land-based activities, and on its shores, the most common elements being cigarette butts, plastic bottles and packs of different foods. The specific of the Black Sea region makes marine litter a fairly difficult, persistent and common problem for all riparian countries. The 18 ports, along the 6 riparian countries, as well as touristic and commercial activities, attract millions of tourists annually, adding to local populations, thus leading to an endless source of marine litter production. Also, the semi-closed sea specific, where the water of 10 large rivers flows, contributes significantly to the amount of litter found on beaches and sea water, litter collected from these waters, from the source to the spout, from their hydrographic basin. A common problem can be improved and prevented by identifying and implementing measures and solutions, but especially through the cooperation of riparian countries and the active involvement of citizens. Thus, 4 of the 6 Black Sea countries joined their efforts within the ANEMONE project – “Assessing the vulnerability of the Black Sea marine ecosystem to human pressures“, BSB-319, funded by the Joint Operational Programme Black Sea Basin 2014-2020, which aims to develop a joint Black Sea monitoring strategy using the most appropriate assessment criteria and indicators to evaluate the status of the Black Sea as a basis for future action. Thus, in ANEMONE project, 4 partners from Romania, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Turkey, organized 4 workshops on the topic of marine litter. If in the past few years meetings and discussions have been held with various representatives of the authorities, scientific and business communities, this time the talks have been held with citizens from these countries, because they are the main engine that can mobilize the population to adopt a responsible behavior to the environment. Public engagement is a key factor in the context of responsible research and innovation, focusing decisions on society’s needs and ensuring a transparent and transdisciplinary approach. These workshops have been an essential activity for involving citizens in finding and applying solutions to the marine litter problem and public awareness of marine environment issues.
The activity started in Romania, where on the 27th of March 2019, in Constanta, the first workshop was organized. Within this activity, the 38 participants had the opportunity to learn about how to get involved in the monitoring of marine litter on the Romanian Black Sea seaside, but also the way how the data are used, how to quantify their involvement and how the process of data interpretation is done. After participating in this workshop, the citizens, volunteers and rangers were involved in the marine litter monitoring activity, carried out by the NGO Mare Nostrum, on 8 beach sectors on the Romanian Black Sea coast, thus having the opportunity to get actively involved in the marine litter monitoring process, collecting over 12,000 items, with a total weight of 95 kg. The second workshop took place in Ukraine, in Odessa, on the 9th of April 2019, where at the Ukrainian Scientific Center for Marine Ecology (UkrSCES) over 60 participants (students from Odessa universities and members of the scientific center) have addressed 5 key topics on marine litter during discussions. Discussions were held on working groups, addressing issues such as: the ways in which litter gets on beaches and sea water, its impact on the environment, the relationship between plastic and man, marine waste prevention solutions, and the need for collaboration between authorities and citizens. The series of these workshops, in the Black Sea basin, continued in Varna, Bulgaria, where on the 17th of April 2019, over 35 participants learned about the current situation of Bulgaria’s marine litter problem. They had the opportunity to see the situation close to one of the beaches, due to the location of the event that took place in a non-formal environment within a beach bar, thus emphasizing the visual impact of the problem. Also in this respect, the Institute of Oceanology (IOBAS) made a demonstration with the drones, participants being able to visualize the situation of the beach as a whole. After this workshop, the participants were involved in the inventory and monitoring of the litter encountered on the beach where it was run the workshop. The last workshop on marine litter topic took place in Turkey, on the24th of April 2019 in Istanbul. More than 30 citizens debated a very important aspect of this issue, focusing on the impact of marine litter on the environment inshore. After discussing these issues and learning how they can be actively involved in preventing it, they also took part in a marine litter monitoring action organized by the Turkish Marine Research Foundation (TUDAV), where they collected 75 kg of plastic, 19 kg of glass and 18 kg of metal. The involvement of participants in marine litter monitoring activities, after these workshops, is a first step for the public engagement of citizens in addressing the marine litter problem. Citizens are the main actors, contributing to raising awareness of this issue, but also to changing local communities