Biotechnology is identified as one of the most important areas for the future of the blue economy. This is one of the prospects for the Bulgarian Black Sea coast as the production of biomass from algae for biofuel and the therapeutic application of sea mud, according to the Maritime Spatial Plan of Bulgaria 2021-2035, whose environmental assessment is under public discussion until mid-May. EU Member States had to submit approved maritime spatial plans to the EC by 31 March 2021.
Renovation of ports with modern technological equipment
According to the plan, the greatest potential for development has the port activity and the sea transport, if the renovation of the ports and the modern technological equipment are realized, with which to increase the efficiency and the quality for passenger service and cargo handling. The development of fisheries cannot go beyond available fish stocks and established quotas, but can be helped to modernize the fishing fleet in a timely manner, improve fishing techniques and increase control over this activity. This will preserve the good state of the marine environment, on which the conservation of species and fish resources depends. Among the main problems for fish populations in the Black Sea is the intensive fishing pressure resulting from fishing above the established quotas for each country, disguised as pelagic poaching, which is a cross-border problem.
The scope of the Bulgarian plan includes the coastal territory of zone A (100 m) and zone B (2 km) of the Black Sea Coast Development Act (BMA), where important sites and facilities of the transport, technical, tourist and ecological infrastructure are concentrated. . The plan covers the development of 14 Black Sea municipalities. However, it does not envisage new construction or change in the ways of permanent use of the coastal territory, which is the subject of the General Development Plans of the Black Sea municipalities. Many of the Black Sea municipalities still do not have General Development Plans such as Tsarevo, Byala and many others, which creates many problems in approving construction projects, in many cases the lack of sufficient public and open public discussions is also a problem.
Medicinal and cosmetic application of lye
The development of biotechnologists in the EU is in several main groups - in healthcare, agriculture, industrial processes, in energy production. The subsector of marine biotechnology is relatively new and is currently being managed and developed through national and European projects that support and promote this area. Bulgarian scientific organizations also participate in similar projects. There is still no systematic data on the development of the sector in Bulgaria (as well as in the EU), but some directions can be noted in the undertaken research and the application of biotechnologies in the region. The main ones are related to the medical and cosmetic application of the lye, which is extracted in the coastal lakes from the sea water, rich in a number of salts. Emphasis is also placed on conducting therapies with healing mud, which is extracted from the coastal lakes and expands the healing possibilities of the Bulgarian coast. It is practiced in Pomorie, the village of Vetren (Burgas), Tuzla near Balchik, the village of Shabla and in Lake Varna.
Ambitious goals with many unresolved issues
The main goal of the Maritime Spatial Plan of the Republic of Bulgaria is to create conditions for sustainable growth of the maritime economy, to achieve stable development of the Bulgarian Black Sea region through efficient use of natural resources in accordance with the requirements for integrated protection of the marine environment. It analyzes resources, potential and challenges and one of its main tasks is to define a vision and strategic goals until 2024 and 2035, as well as procedures for implementation, management and control of activities.
The Black Sea is the largest oxygen-free basin in the world
The Black Sea is the largest oxygen-free basin in the world. The oxygen-rich surface waters on which marine life depends are about 13% of the volume of the water mass. This feature affects the ecological condition of the marine environment and the diversity of organisms that depend on it. The Black Sea is characterized by its limited biodiversity. Its fauna is about three times poorer than that of the Mediterranean, due to deep-sea hydrogen sulfide, low salinity and limited connection to the oceans. However, the coastal areas are known for their rich biodiversity. Along the Bulgarian coast and over the adjacent waters passes one of the European routes of migratory birds - Via Pontica.
It is known for its rich biodiversity
Dozens of protected areas under the Protected Areas Act and protected areas under the Biodiversity Act have been declared here. In the scope of the Black Sea municipalities (Avren, Aksakovo, Balchik, Burgas, Byala, Varna, Dolni Chiflik, Kavarna, Nessebar, Pomorie, Primorsko, Sozopol, Shabla and Tsarevo) the protected areas of different categories of the Protected Areas Act are 53. 34 of them are located in Burgas region, 9 in Varna region and 10 in Dobrich region. Of all the protected areas in the scope of the study, only one - the protected area "Coquetryce" falls entirely in the Black Sea. Within the Black Sea area together with the coastal lakes and in the coastal two-kilometer strip zones "A" and "B" fall, for example, in whole or in part 3 reserves - Kamchia, Kaliakra and Ropotamo, 3 maintained reserves - Atanasovsko Lake, Baltata and Sand Lily, 2 natural parks of Golden Sands National Park in Varna District and part of Strandzha National Park in Burgas District. There is strong pressure on the environment due to unsustainable resource management and congestion of the coast and infrastructure with overcrowded resorts. A concept for adaptation of the sector to climate change has not been adopted, according to the main analysis of the Maritime Spatial Plan until 2035. The plan considers several scenarios from full exploitation of marine resources to balanced management of all resources, for which final answers and concrete solutions are lacking.
Concentration of the population in Varna and Burgas
The total protected area of the Bulgarian sea area is 247,724 ha, over 80% of the outlying areas along the coastline are also under protection. Of the six countries around the Black Sea basin, only two are members of the EU. The coasts have different degrees of urbanization and development of the territories. As of 2018, the population of the Black Sea municipalities in Bulgaria is 726,745 people, which is 10.4% of the population of Bulgaria. Compared to the end of 2011 the population of the maritime municipalities increased by 0.04%, while in the country it decreased by 4.5%. In the cities of Varna and Burgas the population is concentrated according to data from 2019, respectively Varna with 336 216 d. And Burgas with 201 779 d.
The plan predicts that in the period until 2050 the Black Sea municipalities will be among the municipalities with a strongly pulsating number of inhabitants, related to the seasonality and scale of maritime tourism. This has a significant impact on the needs for the development of social and technical infrastructure.