Euronews: Rapana fisheries and marine research in the Black Sea

598x360 cmsv2 70bb1f5a 1037 5ceb 9491 21dd1419888f 1114625d1607d928b9c741483b64b9f4cb2f2ac537c4To ensure that the quantities will remain sustainable in the future, the regional fisheries management organisation - GFCM, launched an international survey of the Black Sea Rapa whelk populations.
Elitsa Petrova is the Director of the Institute of Fish Resources, the oldest maritime institute in Varna. She explains that Rapa whelk is an invasive species but also an economic resource. Тhe species should be "jointly managed by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean and Black Sea countries, using a holistic approach".

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TIMMOD Project sea survey

Institute of Fish Resources - Varna (IFR), Lead Beneficiary in the project "Promoting Technology Innovation in Environmental Monitoring and Modelling for Assessment of Fish Stock and Non-fish Resources"- TIMMOD (implemented under the Operational Program "Black Sea Basin 2014-2020") together with Black Sea - Danube Association of Research and Development (BDCA) started a 14-day survey and promotion of innovative technologies for monitoring of marine environment. The program includes tests and trainings for practical use of innovative hardware and software tools on the board of a scientific research vessel for open sea monitoring (Black Sea), hydrographic measurements and survey, monitoring of fish schools and non-fish resources, measurements of basic physico-chemical sea ​​water parameters, as well as visits to aquacultures in the Bulgarian coastal areas. The main results of the field research and the pilot demonstrations will be presented and discussed within the following Third Thematic Trnasboundary Meeting (TTM №3) and during the upcoming dissemination event in Varna, Bulgaria.

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IFR-Varna participated in a meeting on priority species GFCM, FAO

On May 31 - June 4, 2021, the General Commission for the The Mediterranean and the Black Sea GFCM, FAO and BlackSea4Fish Project held a workshop on bottom marine research and data preparation for the Black Sea priority species.

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Institute of Fish Resources - Varna actively participated and presented scientific data on turbot, rapana and Black Sea shark.

After June 12, 2021, in connection of IFR activity starts scientific expeditions – for rapana stock assessment, for species of white mussels group, as well as in connection with the implementation of innovative technology.

At the end of June 2021, a demonstration observation was launched in front of the northern coast with high-resolution multi-beam sonar - which allows detection and characterization of objects in the water column, measurement of bathymetry and seabed characterization, as well as obtaining real-time georeferenced data. This task is performed under the TIMMOD project.

About whiteclam


Interview with Assoc. Prof. phD. Elitsa Petrova. FOCUS Information Agency, August 28, 2020

According to unofficial data, the price of white clams on the foreign market is between 8 and 12 euros per kilogram, which makes it especially preferred for exploitation. This was stated in an interview with FOCUS Radio - Varna by Assoc. Prof. Elitsa Petrova, Director of the Institute of Fish Resources in Varna. Assoc. Prof. Petrova explained that the group of white clams includes several species - Donax, Chamelea and Mya, and currently the Donax species is mainly caught.

"The Donax species inhabits mainly the coastal zone, that is why it is extremely easy to harvest. These species have a very high export value. Black mussels are farmed as marine aquaculture and have lower exports, while the exploitation of white clams is from their natural populations and are exported to some Mediterranean countries"said Assoc. Prof. Elitsa Petrova.

She noted that both species, white and black, are very important in terms of the ecology of the Black Sea.

"Black mussels form large clusters and are a natural filter of the sea, while white clams inhabit specific habitats that are rich of other organisms. The problem with their exploitation is that the use of dredging devices destroys many of the benthic species living in the same habitat. That is why it is necessary to regulate the exploitation of white clams in order to protect the habitats of other marine species, "said the expert.

Assoc. Prof. Elitsa Petrova added that both types of mussels - black and white, are edible.
"Natural deep-sea populations of black mussels, which are 20 to 65 meters deep, inhabit muddy sediment and have deteriorating taste.
In Bulgaria there is a well-developed Marie culture for black mussels and the quantities for export come from the farms.

In the case of white clams, however, we do not have a developed aquaculture and the quantities for export are from the natural habitats of the species. Their export value is very high due to the fact that in the Mediterranean they are a great delicacy and there are traditions in their consumption. In order to avoid depletion of resources and preservation of the ecology of the basin, measures must be taken to manage the exploitation of these species.

In Turkey, for example, there is a long period during the year when white clams are banned. However, we should not forget that Turkey has many target species, while in our country they are limited, "said Assoc. Prof. Petrova.

Study of the quantity and distribution of Rapana venosa within the BlackSea4Fish project

Rapana venosa is a marine snail of the Muricidae family that entered the Black Sea in 1946 and was transported from the western Pacific Ocean by biofouling on ships. In the next decades, Rapana population grew successfully in the Black Sea, thanks to its high fertility and adaptability to fluctuations in salinity and water pollution, as well as to lack of oxygen. The availability of abundant food resources, the lack of competition and local predators contribute to the successful spread of Rapana throughout the Black Sea. In parallel with the spread of the invasive species, there is a drastic decrease in the amounts of local shellfish that serve as food - oysters and mussels.

In the early 1980s, a profitable market for the new species emerged - from the Far East (South Korea, Japan) and China they paid high prices for frozen and processed rapana meat. A period begins of intensive catch of Rapana - first in Turkey, and then in other Black Sea countries. Thus, once originally considered as invasive in the Black Sea, today Rapana is exported and generates multimillion-dollar revenue for coastal countries in the region.

Current assessments reveal that Rapana is over-caught above optimal limits. This situation illustrates the challenges of managing invasive species that have become a resource - to what levels should the biomass of such species be maintained so as to reduce damage to the ecosystem but preserve the possibility of industrial exploitation? Therefore, Bulgaria (IRR - Varna), Georgia, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine are joining their forces to carry out a comprehensive scientific study in the Black Sea, under the leadership of GFCM, within the project "BlackSea4Fish". The study covers over 300 trawls and will present an assessment of the abundance, distribution, size and age structure of the Rapana population in the Black Sea.

TIMMOD Promoting Technology Innovation in environmental monitoring and modelling for assessment of fish stock and non-fish resources 2020-2022 
WHITECLAM Research of sand (white) clams and new management proposals, Maritime and Fisheries Program, 2019-2021 
ECRAMON ECRAMON – Increasing the research and management capacity of marine non-fish resources in the Black Sea 2016-2017
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Final Conference TIMMOD Project 

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International Conference WHITECLAM 2021

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Development of the Regional DataBase for the Mediterranean & Black Seas (Med&BS RDB) meeting, 26 October, 2021

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Forty-fourth session of the GFCM 2-6 November, 2021

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