Ukrainian Independent Maritime Trade Union addressed the Statement “Environmental and Humanitarian Challenges in Maritime Spaces around Crimea” to the relevant international intergovernmental and nongovernmental bodies.

Statement points that protecting the maritime ecosystems and providing rights to sustainable development for persons, included to the maritime economics are the top priorities for the modern global civilization. Alas the risks and challenges, dangerous as for ecology so for human beings in Black and Azov Seas increased since 2014 when the Crimean peninsula and maritime spaces around it got under the control of Russian Federation. Those challenges are divided into some groups in the Statement.

Regarding the nuclearisation issues Statement points that Russian military authorities in Crimea renovate the Soviet nuclear infrastructure of the Black Sea Fleet including the nuclear weapon keeping places arrangement in Sevastopol area and Krasnokamenka near Feodosia. Railroad connection via Kerch Strait opened in 2020 allowed Russian authorities to transfer nuclear warheads to Crimea in compliance with Russian military standards. Also the destiny of the training nuclear reactor located in the Sevastopol Technical University is unknown since 2014. Such situation aggravates risks on radioactive maritime pollution in Black Sea, including Sevastopol and Feodosia areas. Character of Black Sea currents allows to point that any such polluted water will be transferred first to Ukrainian mainland shore and later to territorial sea of Romania and Bulgaria. 

Due to the land runoff the Statement says that since last five years the local land-origin pollution of Black Sea water increased from Crimea. The main sources of this pollution are the urban waste waters of Crimean settlements, and the most dangerous situation appeared in Sevastopol. This city as the main Russian military base got the increase of own population due the ongoing militarization, from 350 thousands in 2013 to 550 thousands in 2020. The main Sevastopol sewage treatment plant “Southern” collapsed in 2015-2016 and wastes of this city goes directly to Black Sea. Similar situation on local level increased in Yevpatoria, Yalta, Koktebel and Feodosia. Plans of Russian de-facto authorities in Crimea covers placement two desalination stations for 20 thousands cubic meters per day, wasting salt dumps to the Black Sea. Chemical plants “Titan” and “Krasnoperekopsk Soda Plant” located in Northern Crimea pollutes the atmosphere by a broad set of chemicals that causes the acid rains on the Black Sea Karkinit Bay and other parts of basin. Black Sea currents transfer this pollution first to Ukrainian mainland shore and later to territorial sea of Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey.

Regarding the ship pollution Statement considers that Sevastopol naval base and related locations of Russian Black Sea Fleet are the main sources of ship pollution, including oil products, non-controlled ballast exchange, and chemicals of the rocket fuel. Non-controlled area of vessel cargo overload to the south of the Kerch Strait is the other district of maritime ship pollution, including ore, sulfur and oil product, such pollution happens as during usual overload so in often incidents as in 2017-2020 as minimum three tankers sank after fire on board in those waters. Shelf platforms of “Chernomornaftogas” company controlled by Russia and excavating gas and gas condensate in the Northern part of Black Sea are the sustainable source of relevant maritime pollution in this area. Black Sea currents transfer those pollutions to all the basin.

Due to the maritime landscapes erosion Statement points that business structures, controlled by Russian de-facto authorities in Crimea, excavates the sand from the seabed in Kalamit and Karkinit bays with its further overload for building purposes in Yevpatoria maritime port. Such non-controlled excavation destroys the coastal ecosystems by their erosion, including beaches in Kalamit Bay and Bakal Foreland, which disappeared since 2015 with its unique ecosystem. And more, excavation the sand destroys the unique ecosystems of the seabed in Karkinit Bay as the spawning area for the majority of Black Sea fish species available for local and industrial fishery, such as surgeons, eel, anchovy, shad, sprat, pilchard, sardinella, garfish etc. For example the unique red alga (seaweed) fields almost disappeared since 2015 in the Northern part of Black Sea. The problems for renovation of those fish stocks caused by the Crimean sand excavation business are important for all Black Sea basin fishery.

Regarding the non-controlled fishery Statement points that in the same time non-limited and non-controlled maritime fishery, organized by the business structures, controlled by Russian de-facto authorities in Crimea and by Russian mafia, is the high-danger issue as for the maritime ecosystems so for the legal traditional coastal and basin fishery of Ukraine, Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania and Turkey in Black and Azov Seas.

All those negative ecologic factors caused by military and economic activities in Crimea also make challenge for the sustainable development of the coastal communities and their members, included to the maritime economics.

Unfortunately, the situation of occupation of Crimea and appropriation of relevant assets is accompanied by Russia’s militarization of maritime areas around Crimea, including platforms on the shelf and security zones, accompanied by mass seizures of Ukrainian fishermen and their vessels, unwarranted stops and inspections in the Sea of Azov and Kerch. Our trade union has repeatedly reported on the related violations of the rights of Ukrainian fishermen, including Crimeans, to the UN, ILO and OSCE agencies. Our trade union’s legal proceedings are currently pending before the UN Human Rights Committee and the European Court of Human Rights.

Russia’s violation of maritime law has already been the subject of a number of resolutions by the UN General Assembly, of the Parliamentary Assemblies of the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the BSEC. In particular, these violations are reflected in detail in the UN General Assembly resolutions of December 17, 2018 73/194 and of December 9, 2019 74/17 on the militarization of Crimea and the Black and Azov Seas.

The interests of preserving ecologic stability of the entire Black Sea region fully depend on the countries’ commitment to the principles of international law and friendly relations. Maritime states and maritime businesses, in order to ensure proper, civilized forms of shipping, must avoid actions, aimed at supporting the above-mentioned oppression of maritime environment.

The Statement proposes the urgent steps might be done regarding this situation. Ukrainian trade union calls on the relevant intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations to pay more attention to the ecologic situation in waters around Crimea, in particular in the context of the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian armed conflict. Such attention may be connected with support of the independent expert and scientific researches of those problems, with reflecting and highlighting them on the international level, with international ecologic expeditions’ organization to research the real situation in the Black and Azov Seas.

Statement Ukrainian Independent Maritime Trade Union “Environmental and Humanitarian Challenges in Maritime Spaces around Crimea” was addressed to the UN Economic Commission for Europe, UN Environment Programme, UN Food and Agriculture Organization, World Meteorological Organization, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution, European Environment Agency, Implementation Committee of the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context. Also this Statement was addressed to the authoritative ecologic non-governmental structures as World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, Oceana, International Union for Conservation of Nature, Global Green Growth Institute, Confederation of European Environmental Engineering Societies, Coastwatch Europe International Coordinator, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists and Black Sea Blue Growth Initiative.