Caspian Sea 2011


(AAB) in the South Caspian Sea was initiated in response to the unprecedented bloom which ap- peared in August 2005. Monitoring which began in the summer of 2006 was based on remote sens- ing techniques, with the objective of predicting and identifying an AAB event at an early stage. The three-year monitoring exercise resulted in the recommendation that research be continued. The rise in sea levels was identified as an event of concern for Caspian Sea littoral states; the most recent revision of the TDA (Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis) for the Caspian Sea rec- ommended that countries jointly address this issue. At present, the various state institutions have their own sea level measuring techniques. A specific study under CEP looked at the situ- ation in Anzali Lagoon, Iran. Again, there is no coordination of such monitoring activities by the various countries. Pollution Since 2007, selected programmes and projects on pollution have been initiated, for example, the large-scale “Caspian Water Quality Monitor- ing and Action Plan for Areas of Pollution Con- cern (CaspianMAP)” which also included “The Regional Pollution Action Plan for the Caspian Sea (RPAP).” Specific focus has also been given to selected river basins such as the Volga River Delta and the deltas of the Terek and Kura rivers. These projects were undertaken with the aim of meeting a key target of the Strategic Caspian Ac- tion Programme—to “undertake a comprehen- sive regional inventory of pollution emissions from land-based sources.” The CaspianMAP noted that quantitative assessments of pol- lution at a regional scale ceased to exist after the Soviet Era. Consequently, all other activities such as monitoring, the implementation of as- sessment methods and the development of vari- ous areas of competence were also terminated. Various internationally-financed projects focus- ing on pollution levels in the Caspian Sea have been initiated during the last ten years. The Cas- pianMAP project concluded that the next phase should focus on qualitative assessments, which

would then serve as a basis for the planning of monitoring activities and the assessment of pos- sible protection measures. Issues of regional co- operation would also be examined. Biodiversity In 2007, the key recommendation of the TDA was the establishment of a regionally integrat- ed biodiversity monitoring programme based on an agreed-upon Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) framework, with permanent consulta- tion mechanisms and training programmes for experts within the region. Trends could then be identified, including various changes in the structure of communities related to biodi- versity. It also recommended that further eco- toxological studies be undertaken on seals and sturgeon populations to determine the impact of persistent toxic substances on higher trophic levels, especially on the more long-living spe- cies. Some remarkable work was done under the Biodiversity Monitoring Programme (BMP) phase of the project entitled “Development of Caspian Sea Coastal Sites Inventory (CCSI) and identification of areas of special importance and/or sensitivity within an ecosystem ap- proach and framework”. An international team established optimal protocols for sensitive site monitoring along with methods of data collec- tion and presentation. The team made general recommendations concerning site selection, monitoring objectives, parameters to be meas- ured and measurement techniques to be used. A lack of funding, particularly in regard to mon- itoring marine sites—requiring the rental of a vessel— was noted as a challenge for overall site monitoring. Another problem noted was the shortage of qualified specialists for field work and general site monitoring. The project also looked at biodiversity monitoring in select- ed areas, such as annual monitoring of nesting and migratory birds, ongoing seal monitoring and a five-year monitoring programme on Mne- miopsis leidyi abundance in the sea. All countries apart from Turkmenistan under- take special fishery monitoring. Such activities include some parameters relating to water qual-


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