Caspian Sea 2011

State of the Environment of the Caspian Sea

sponse and cooperation in combating oil spill incidents; environmental impact assessments in a transboundary context. The protocols are expected to be adopted at the COP III. If the vari- ous Contracting Parties commit themselves to developing the protocols, then it should follow that these measures aimed at safeguarding the Caspian Sea environment will be implemented: in so doing, a proper legal basis for coordinated decision making will also be adopted. Up to the present time, no integrated moni- toring system in the Caspian Sea has existed. Each country has its own monitoring pro- gramme: while the Russian Federation, Azer- baijan and Kazakhstan follow similar methods. In Turkmenistan, the number of organizations, involved in monitoring, is smaller, but the Min- istry of Nature Protection, in the framework of the National Caspian Action Plan (NCAP), has implemented in 2009-2010 the upgrade of the “Caspecocontrol” state service with modern equipment for monitoring of the state of Cas- pian environment. and water quality. In general, all countries have a network of sta- tions gathering data on water quality, weath- er conditions and air pollution which is then passed on to National Meteorological Organiza- tions. This network was created in the Soviet era and preserved for many years, with only minor changes. In general, each station makes regular use of a substantial number of parameters in- cluding air temperature, humidity, winds, water temperature and currents. Some marine stations also include sea level measurements and a num- ber of other parameters including O2 concentra- tions, BOD, ion composition and heavy metal concentrations. While this monitoring is ongo- ing and is the most widely applied in the Caspi- an Sea region, the Regional Water Quality Moni- toring Program notes that “all littoral countries suffer from a lack of dedicated resources, limited analytical capabilities and a lack of proper coop- eration and data exchange mechanisms between Meteorological data, air

institutions and countries”.

The most recent regional exercise aimed at pro- moting regional cooperation on environmental protection was the Regional Water Quality Moni- toring Programme of 2009 (RWQMP), financed by the TACIS Programme of the European Union (EU). This programme examined the development and implementation of a regional water quality monitoring project, and focused on critical con- taminants and hot spots. This has become a key objective in the Strategic Action Programme for the Caspian Sea. The project suffered, however, from Iran’s limited involvement caused by its observer status; this was due to eligibility con- straints in the TACIS Programme . The information obtained within the framework of the RWQMP was based on fragmented, ad hoc and incomplete assessments of existing envi- ronmental conditions. The information did not originate from any specifically designed marine monitoring programmes, but resulted mostly as a by-product from inspectorate work and diverse scientific research activities. Despite earlier ef- forts to improve the situation within the TACIS and CEP frameworks, the existing monitoring system is not coordinated. Moreover, differences in legislation, differing priorities in natural re- sources management, poorly formulated regula- tions, inadequate use of quality standards, con- fusion over inspectorate and ambient monitoring functions, and generally poorly defined monitor- ing programmes signify that the development of an operational system of environmental pro- tection is difficult (RWQMP 2009). The RWQMP includes specific recommendations for the im- provement of monitoring capacities; however, the report states that “their implementation will be impossible if there are no detailed plans and schedules adopted at national level and if there is no further development of methodical support centres and research programmes.” A number of specific monitoring activities have taken place in the Caspian Sea region. Ad hoc monitoring of the anomalous algal bloom


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