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Pollution of the Mediterranean Sea

The pollution of the Mediterranea is primarily from land-based sources - domestic sewage, industrial discharges, agricultural runoff. It reaches the sea through the rivers runoff (local scale pollution) and dust storms and precipitation.

The uneven distribution of runoff and precipitation mainly along the northern coasts, combined with the concentration of population and industrial activity in the north, results in a load of pollutants in the northern Mediterranean waters, that may eventually spread in other areas.

Heavy traffic of oil tankers used to lead to the spread of tar balls on the coasts, but this has been conciderably reduced through the implementation of the Barcelona Convention. Significant progress has been achieved in reduction of discharge of urban effluence from major cities.

Plastic containers and other floating residue from ships and sailing boats remain a nuisance in most areas of the basin.

The Mediterranean is naturally adapted to avoid excessive eutrophication since the outflow into the Atlantic is of deep waters, relatively rich in nutrients, while the inflow is of low nutrient Atlantic surface water. However, when nutrients are continuously discharged into coastal waters in excess of their self-purification capacity, the oxygen balance is disturbed. The oxygen is not enough, plankton and vegetation dies, while anaerobic oxidation of organic matter procedes. Coastal water become turbid and poisonous to certain forms of marine life.