Protecting Albania's Marine and Coastal Biodiversity (Phase 2)
What is the project about?
In the last 20 years, Albania has undergone profound transformation in terms of spatial distribution of human activities, and in the standard of living in urban areas, especially for those areas that are growing rapidly. Emigration and urbanization brought a structural shift away from agriculture and toward industry and service, allowing the economy to begin producing a variety of services - ranging from banking to telecommunications and tourism. Migration towards coastal areas combined with rapid and largely unregulated urban, tourism and industrial development have led to water pollution, soil erosion, and over fishing, threatening marine and coastal biodiversity and the sustainability of ecosystem goods and services. This has resulted in one of the highest rates of biodiversity loss in Europe.
Pollution of marine and coastal waters is increasing, especially in lagoons. Most pollution comes from urban and industrial waste, sewage, and chemicals used in agriculture; in addition, the impact of climate change is seen in rising sea levels, changing ecosystems in lagoons, increased frequency and intensity of floods, introduction of alien and invasive species from warmer regions, and a decrease in some marine and coastal populations of fish and invertebrates.
UNDP and AICS (the Italian Agency for Cooperation and Development), to ensure comprehensive and effective management of the coastal and marine environment of Albania, are working in collaboration with the National Agency for Protected Areas (NAPA) to improve the coverage of marine and coastal protected areas throughout Albania that complement the existing system of terrestrial parks, with the main goal to secure the long-term protection of Albania’s unique coastal and marine biodiversity for current and future generations.
As such, the project will focus on developing a scientifically designed, stakeholder supported network of MCPAs to effectively protect 30% of representative marine and coastal habitats of Albania, providing ecosystem benefits while supporting healthy fisheries (increase in diversity, density, biomass and reproductive capacity) and livelihoods for fishers and their families; ensuring living diversification opportunities such as sustainable tourism development based on a healthy environment; and building an ecosystem resilient to climate and human induced impacts.
The specific project objective is to develop MCPA network which aims to maintain healthy, productive and resilient ecosystems, providing required ecosystem services for communities, but, allowing recovery and maintenance of the marine biodiversity of Albania, therefore
The main distinct areas of development where project will focus are:
- intensifying and strengthening management activities for Karaburuni-Sazani MPA to prove that MCPAs can effectively protect marine biodiversity, maintain/restore ecosystem health and provide a sustainable source of economic growth;
- replicating this model across Albania’s coastal and marine areas through the development of a scientifically designed and multiple objective-based network of MCPAs;
- strengthening the governance-based institutional support to the MCPAs network and the inter-sectoral coordination and collaboration.
- Priority areas for MCPA network protection characterized, including location, size and distribution of sites based on species life history factors and habitat types, to increase coverage of the coastal and marine protected areas of Albania through the engagement and contribution of experts and user groups/stakeholders.
- The Management Committee of the Karaburuni-Sazani MPA, the National Park Llogara and the Natural Complex Karaburuni-Rreza e Kanalit-Orikum-Tragjas-Dukat is operative and addressing immediate and unanticipated needs to natural resource management on an on-going basis.
- An inter- and intra-government agency decision-making model (set of protocols and procedures) is developed to collaboratively address management issues concerning the MCPA network throughout Albania, both for long-term planning purposes and immediate and unanticipated needs to natural resource management, on an on-going basis.
- Development Scorecard for MCPAs shows an increased systematic, institutional and individual capacity by at least 20% in each category.
- A Strategic Plan for the Information Centre of Karaburuni-Sazani MPA, including an environmental education and awareness raising plan and a financial plan developed and made operative by implementing identified priority actions; the current Sustainable Tourism Plan implemented; at least 2 hotel owners in Vlora Bay engaged in a certification process; An assessment completed contributing to transition to Sustainable Fisheries as by EU Maritime and fisheries policies 2014-2020
- Mobilization and engagement of relevant stakeholders locally and nationally and establishing cooperation and collaboration between them from municipality to the national level ministries; reviving of the Management Committee of the Karaburuni-Sazani MPA, while guidance, support and facilitation is provided to the Regional Administration pf Protected Areas (RAPA) of Vlora for accomplishing several management actions, both for long-term planning purposes, as well as for addressing immediate needs to site management and achieving active participation of all relevant local and central agencies, stakeholder groups and economic sectors.
- Synergies and liaison is also focused with international organizations /donors to collaborate with key project partners and aligning funding opportunities with the demanding management activities at Karaburun-Sazani MPA (MedPAN, EU, Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), Conservatoire du Littoral, etc.)
- Implementation of priority activities with the local partners to ensure the long-term in-situ survival and conservation of the globally rare, endangered or threatened species found in - Karaburuni - Sazani at their natural densities. A sea turtle rehabilitation center is established as minimum support and initial reception center, emergency care and their release upon recovery. Educational activities with local schools are being organized in the center, particularly the application of turtle reporting protocols from the administration of the Marine Park and involved research groups (and internships students) including also instructions on how to handle and treat turtle species while in rehabilitation center (record of turtle species data, morphometric measurements, medical treatment practices, etc.).
- Identifying the touristic operators for implementation of best practices and eco-labelling certification
- Initiate the process for reducing of the negative impacts from the mismanaged waste streams generated from economic operators and other subjects along the Vlore bay and introduce sustainable approaches that improve waste collection and disposal systems, namely for used oil and plastics, their separation, collection, treatment and disposal, and costs to introduce such standards. Assistance and facilitation of the waste recycling pilot actions (plastic and used cooking oil) along the coastline and branding and awareness among the targeted stakeholders and communities in respect to waste recycling activities.
- Appraisal of fishing resources and its management scope including existing fishing techniques and tool (fishing gears); in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, it was estimated fishing vessel’s coordinates for Vlora and Himara areas (Registration Number, Name, Operational Status, Home Port, Length, Width, Issue Date, Fishing zone).