Romania and Bulgaria act to stop Black Sea coastal erosion

17/04/2013

Brussels will aid the two countries in coping with the phenomenon.

By Paul Ciocoiu for Southeast European Times in Bucharest -- 17/04/13

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About 40 metres of coastline is expected to disappear over the next 20 years in the worst affected areas. [European Commission]

The EU's financial help in tackling Black Sea coastal erosion will give an economic spur to the Romanian and Bulgarian seaside and will protect the environment, officials said.

Earlier this month, the European Commission approved a disbursement of 145 million euros for Romania to protect its coastline, while another EU funded coastal rehabilitation project is under way in Bulgaria.

"We have come up with a master plan to rehabilitate the affected region which aims to fight the coastal erosion for the next decades," Catalin Anton, spokesman for Apele Romane Dobrogea, the regional branch of the state water management authority, told SETimes.

About 40 metres of coastline is expected to disappear over the next 20 years in the worst affected areas, according to the authority's evaluation.

"The money we received from the European Commission will be allotted to the first phase of intervention of this master plan,which will see erosion prevention works by 2015. This first phase tackles the phenomenon in the areas with the strongest tourist potential," he said, adding that local authorities are going to apply for new EU funds after 2015.

The European Commission said funding is dispersed through its Cohesion Fund, and said that the project envisages an area which annually attracts 8 million tourists. Romania will contribute 25 million euros to the project.

"This project is a concrete example of how European funds can contribute to both economic development of the region and environmental protection. The measures will bring benefits both to locals and tourists … and will improve the region's attractiveness for business and tourism," the commission said.

The rehabilitation project will focus on five sectors that are spread along 7.5 kilometres and are the most severely affected by erosion.

About 33 hectares of beaches are expected to be regained by 2015, while 250 jobs will be created through the project, which will benefit about 278,000 people who live in the affected areas, the European Commission said.

At the same time, millions of euros in damage will be avoided by significantly reducing the risk of flooding.

Bulgaria is also fighting the same phenomenon.

"There are numerous areas along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast that are affected by erosion," Lyubomir Dimitrov, an assistant professor at the Varna-based Institute of Oceanology of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, told SETimes.

More than 40 percent of the 378-kilometre long coastline, running from Cape Sivriburun on the country's border with Romania down to the estuary of the Rezovska River between Bulgaria and Turkey, is subject to erosion and abrasion.

Some of the affected areas Dimitrov listed included the village of Durankulak and the town of Shabla in the north and "almost everything" along the 20-kilometre stretch between the towns of Pomorie and Burgas.

Sea level rise, extreme wind waves, geological setting and changes in sediment supply are some of the environmental factors causing erosion along the coast. Human activities have also had an important impact.

"The erosion has increased significantly following the over-development of the seaside" in the past two decades, Dimitrov said.

The northern beach in the resort town of Primorsko was almost eaten away by storms in February 2012. The sand embankments the local people built in a bid to save the 2012 tourist season had little impact.

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The shoreline is said to have shrunk by about 20 metres since last year.

A project designed to prevent the risks of erosion and abrasion of the seashore at the northeastern town of Balchik is due to be completed in June. The programme is worth nearly half a million Euros, most of it coming from the European Regional Development Fund.

Correspondent Svetla Dimitrova in Sofia contributed to this report.

Can stopping the Black Sea coast erosion give a boost to the area's tourist industry? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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