Western Black Sea IMMA
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.
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