Western Black Sea IMMA

Western Black Sea IMMA map

Size in Square Kilometres

43 912 km2

Qualifying Species and Criteria

Black Sea harbour porpoise – Phocoena phocoena relicta

Criterion A, B(2), C(2)

Marine Mammal Diversity 

Phocoena phocoena relicta, Delphinus delphis ponticus, Tursiops truncatus ponticus

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This IMMA is located in the shelf and offshore waters of the southwestern Black Sea and extends from the 60 m to 2000 m isobath. Seasonal aggregations of Black Sea harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena relicta ) (EN) and the Black Sea bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus ponticus ) (EN) were recorded during two aerial surveys and several vessel surveys in the past 10 years. Survey data show that in summer the IMMA includes more than 70% of the harbour porpoise population in the Black Sea. The area overlaps with several protected marine areas and includes the migration routes of the prey species of the three cetacean species inhabiting the Black Sea. These species are listed in IUCN Red List and covered by Annex IV of the European Union Habitats Directive falling under Criterion A, and the harbour porpoise is subject to Criterion C2.

Description of Qualifying Criteria

Criterion A – Species or Population Vulnerability

The Black Sea harbour porpoise (Phoconea phoconea relicta Abel, 1905) is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of endangered species.

Criterion B: Distribution and Abundance

Sub-criterion B2: Aggregations

The IMMA is proposed based on the seasonal aggregation of harbour porpoises, observed during the CeNoBS/ASI survey in 2019 (Paiu et al., 2021) and Birkun (2014) within the western Black Sea waters.  The IMMA includes waters from 60 m deep to the 2000 m isobath.  The results of the CeNoBS project (Paiu et al., 2021) showed that in summer more than 70% of Black Sea harbour porpoise abundance was within the IMMA.  The western boundary was selected as the 60 m isobath due to the additional available literature on cetacean presence during vessel surveys (abundance and distribution estimates or bycatch) performed in Romania, Bulgaria and western Turkey (Çelikkale et al., 1989; Cetacean bycatches, 2011; Gol’din et al., 2017; Mikhalev, 2005a,b; Panayotova and Todorova, 2015; Panayotova et al., 2017; 2020; Dede and Tonay, 2010; Paiu, 2019, Popov, 2017; 2018; 2019; 2020; Stanev, 1996). In the shelf regions of the IMMA, both species’ show a marked preference for shallow coastal waters. The shallow depth preference generally concurs with some historical evidence (Birkun, 2006; Gol’din et al., in press; Tonay et al., in press).

Criterion C: Key Life Cycle Activities

Sub-criterion C2: Feeding Areas

The shelf slope area in the IMMA is an important area for sprats and whitings the primary prey species for the harbour porpoises (BLASDOL, 1999; Gladilina and Gol’din, 2014). Presence of these prey species peaks in summer, which attracts the Black Sea cetacean species mentioned.

Supporting Information

Birkun, Jr., A. A. 2006. Cetaceans. In: Zaitsev, Y. P., Aleksandrov, B. G., Minicheva, G. G., eds. The North-Western Part of the Black Sea: Biology and Ecology. Naukova Dumka, Kiev, 314–332 [In Russian].

Birkun. A. Jr., Northridge, S. P., Willsteed, E. A., James, F. A., Kilgour, C., Lander, M. and Fitzgerald, G. D. 2014. Studies for carrying out the common fisheries policy: adverse fisheries impacts on cetacean populations in the Black Sea. Final report to the European Commission, Brussels, 347p.

BLASDOL. 1999. Estimation of human impact on small cetaceans of the Black Sea and elaboration of appropriate conservation measures: final report for EC Inco-Copernicus (contract No. ERBIC15CT960104). C. R. Joiris (Coord.), Free University of Brussels, Belgium; BREMA Laboratory, Ukraine; Justus Liebig University of Giessen, Germany; Institute of Fisheries, Bulgaria; and Institute of Marine Ecology and Fisheries, Georgia. Brussels. 113 pp.

Çelikkale, M. S., Karaçam, H., Düzgünes, E., Ünsal, S. ve Durukanoglu, H. F. 1989. Size and distribution of dolphin populations in the Black Sea. Doga Türk Zooloji Dergisi, 13(3), 189-196.

Cetacean bycatches in the northern Black Sea (CetByBlaS). 2011. Dataset assembled by A.Birkun, Jr. and S.Krivokhizhin. EMODNet. https://obis.org/dataset/f38e309b-60c0-4f79-8e6e-68dd7cef52b7

Dede, A., Tonay, A.M., 2010. Cetacean sightings in the western Black Sea in autumn 2007. J of Environmental Protection and Ecology 11, No 4:1491-1496.

Gladilina, E.V., Gol’din, P.E., 2014. New prey fishes in diet of Black Sea bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus (Mammalia, Cetacea). Vestnik zoologii48(1), pp.83-92.

Gol’din, P., Gladilina, E., Savenko, O., Vishnyakova, K., Neprokin, O. and Ivchenko, Ye. 2017. Identification and initial assessment of cetacean groupings in coastal waters of the north-western Black Sea, Ukrainian sector (final report). MoU ACCOBAMS N° 09/2016/FAC, 100 p.

Gol’din P., Gladilina E., Öztürk A. A., Tonay A.M. In press. Tursiops truncatus ssp. ponticus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

Mikhalev, Yu.A., 2005a. The peculiarities of the distribution of the harbour porpoise, Phocoena phocoena relicta (Cetacea), in the Black Sea. Vestnik zoologii, 39(6): pp.25–35 [In Russian]

Mikhalev, Yu.A., 2005b. The peculiarities of the distribution of the bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus (Cetacea), in the Black Sea. Vestnik Zoologii 39(3), pp.29–42 [In Russian]

Nicolae, C., Nenciu, M.I., Filimon, A., Spanu, A.D. Marin, M., Pogurschi, E. 2017. Study on conservation status of marine mammals in the danube Delta Marine Zone (ROSCI 0066). Journal of Environmental Protection and Ecology. 18. 1005-1016.

Nikolov, D. 1963. Catch and distribution of dolphin’s shoals in front of Bulgarian coast. Pros. of Central Res. Inst. of Aqua. Fish. – BAS III, 183-197.

Öztürk A.A., Tonay A.M., Gol’din P., Vishnyakova K. In press. Phocoena phocoena ssp. relicta. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Paiu, R.M., Olariu, B., Paiu, A.I., Mirea Candea, M.E., Gheorghe, A. M., Murariu, D., 2019. Cetaceans in the coastal waters of southern Romania: initial assessment of abundance, distribution, and seasonal trends. Journal of Black Sea / Mediterranean Environment. 25(3): 266–279.

Paiu, R.M., Panigada, S., Cañadas, A., Gol`din, P., Popov, D., David, L., Amaha Öztürk, A. 2021. Deliverable 2.2.2. Detailed Report on cetacean  populations distribution and abundance in the Black Sea, including proposal for threshold values. CeNoBS project – contract No 110661/2018/794677/SUB/ENV.C2. Celebris printing, Constanta. 97 pages. ISBN 978-606-9711-12-5

Paiu, M. 2019b. Cetacean sightings by boat 2010-2019. Data downloaded from OBIS-SEAMAP (http://seamap.env.duke.edu/dataset/832) on 25.02.2021

Panayotova, M., Todorova, V. 2015. Distribution of three cetacean species along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast in 2006-2013. J. Black Sea/Med. Environment, 21, 1, 45-53.

Panayotova, M., Marinova, V., Slavova, K., Popov, D. (2017). Studying of the distribution and abundance of marine mammals in the Bulgarian Black Sea area by combination of visual and acoustic observations. Proceedings of the Institute of Fishing Resources (IFR) – Varna, vol. 28, 34-40.

Panayotova, M., Bekova, R., Prodanov, B., 2020. Assessment of marine cetacean populations in Bulgarian Black Sea in 2017 according to indicators of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Ecologia Balkanica, Special Edition 3, 73-83 (in press)

Popov, D., 2017. Cetacean distribution and abundance in Bulgarian territorial sea of the Black Sea, Final report, OceanCare Collaboration contract 31.01.2017, 15 pages.

Popov, D., 2018. Cetacean distribution and abundance in Bulgarian territorial sea of the Black Sea, Final report, OceanCare Collaboration contract 19.12.2017, 19 pages.

Popov, D., 2019. Cetacean distribution and abundance in Bulgarian territorial sea of the Black Sea, Final report, OceanCare Collaboration contract 07.01.2019, 22 pages.

Popov, D. Meshkova G., Hristova P., Miteva A., Ilieva T., Dimitrov H. 2020. Line transect surveys of abundance and density of cetaceans in the marine area of the Bulgarian Natura 2000 BG0001001 Ropotamo Site of Community Importance, Black Sea. Acta Zoologica Bulgarica, 73 (2)

Popov, D., Meshkova G., Hristova P., Miteva A., Ilieva T., Dimitrov H. “Pilot line transect surveys of cetaceans in a Bulgarian MPA – BG0001007 Strandzha SCI”. Acta Zoologica Bulgarica, Suppl. 15, 2020: 243-248

Prodanov, K.; Mikhailov, K.; Daskalov, G.; Maxim, C.; Chashchin, A.; Arkhipov, A.; Shlyakhov, V.; Ozdamar, E. Environmental management of fish resources in the Black Sea and their rational exploitation. Studies and Reviews. General Fisheries Council for the Mediterranean. No. 68. Rome, FAO. 1997. 178p.

Stanev, C. 1996. Distribution and Abundance of Dolphins in Bulgarian Marine Area of the Black Sea. Proc. Inst. Fish. – Varna, vol. XXIV, 177-182.

Tonay A.M., Gol’din P., Öztürk, A.A. In press. Black Sea common dolphin, Delphinus delphis ssp. ponticus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

Tzalkin, V.I. 1938. Morphological characteristics, systematic status and zoogeographic significance of the harbour porpoise from the Azov and Black Seas. Zoologichesky Zhurnal 17(4): 706-733. (in Russian).

Tzalkin, V.I. 1940. Certain observations on biology of Azov and Black Sea dolphins. Bulleten’ Moskovskogo Obshchestva Ispytateley Prirody (Biology Division) 49(1): 61-70. (in Russian).


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