Aquatic Invasions in the Black, Caspian, and Mediterranean Seas Legal Issues
Aquatic Invasions in the Black, Caspian, and Mediterranean Seas
The present volume contains the presentations of a NATO advanced Research Workshop
(ARW) entitled “The invasion of the Black, Mediterranean and Caspian Seas by the
American Ctenophore, Mnemiopsis leidyi Agassiz: a multidisciplinary perspective
and a comparison with other aquatic invasions”, held on 24 - 26 June 2002 in Baku
(Azerbaijan). The meeting was financed by the NATO Division for Scientific and
Environmental Affairs (Brussels); substantial logistic support was provided by the CEP
(Caspian Environmental Program) of the GEF in Baku.
The Mediterranean, Black, and Caspian Seas represent three fragments of the former
Tethys Sea, and are thus of great interest to understanding the evolution of the entire
region where Eurasia, Africa and the Arabian Peninsula meet. While the Mediterranean
is a typical marine environment, with salinity even a little above the world ocean’s, the
Black Sea is a brackish meromictic lake, and the Caspian is a lake with a saline gradient
extending from a freshwater basin in the North to a brackish water basin in the South.
Intense fishing activity takes place in all three seas, while maritime traffic through the
Dardanelles and Bosporus, and via the Lenin Canal (between the Don and Volga rivers)
to the Caspian Sea has become greatly intensified in the course of the last few decades.
Other events of interest are the 20th century achievement of linking of all major European
rivers by canals, making it possible for ships to navigate from the mouth of the Volga
to the Baltic, from the Danube to the Rhine, and from there to all other major European
Rivers. Such an anastomosed system does not only allow ships to pass between basins,
however. Biota follow in their wake, either by active migration, or by attaching to the
hulls of ships, and thus the Black Sea and Caspian faunas and floras, long sequestered in
their closed basins, all of a sudden were given an opportunity to “escape”.
On the other hand, alien invaders increasingly found their way to the three seas in
question, often as stowaways in the ballast water tanks of larger ships, occasionally
attacked to their hulls. Some of the newcomers expanded to enormous numbers in the
receiving ecosystem, where they may - and indeed do - cause great economic damage.
The main objective of the workshop was to provide an up-to-date overview of the
situation in the Ponto-Caspian with regard to the jelly invasions that have been perturbing
the local pelagic ecosystems since the early 1980s, and contrast that with biological
invasions elsewhere, in an effort to try and identify general underlying principles.
The workshop brought together a group of experts from the region itself, beside others
from a number of NATO - or NATO-associated countries. For help before, during, and
after the meeting, the editors are grateful to Alain Jubier of NATO, to Tim Turner and
Vladymyr Vladymyrov of the CEP, and particularly to Ms. Shafaq Karaeva, Secretary of
the CEP, who skilfully took care of the practical aspects of the meeting, solving unanticipated
problems even before anybody had become aware of their existence.