Marine and Coastal Protected Areas 2 - Improving coverage and management effectiveness of marine and coastal protected areas

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.

Expected Results

  • 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.)
  • The project availed Regional Administration of Protected Areas Vlore with much appropriate and adoptive patrolling capacities, enabling provision and operation of a new speedboat for surveying the MPA area. This equipment fulfills the needs of local administration to better and efficiently accomplish the enforcement tasks and activities in the area.
  • 5 anchoring and 5 signaling buoys  have been installed and deployed in the boarders of the MPA K-S (Marine Park Karaburun-Sazan), with the sole purposes to ensure its effective management, patrolling and ecosystem monitoring, contributing this way to protection of marine biodiversity and ecosystem health hosted in that sites, as well as to introducing elements of sustainable sources of economic growth.
  • Advice on legal and regulatory instruments relevant to MPA K-S, namely implementing procedures for the Protected Areas Law and respective enforcement measures. This counseling activity responded to high for assistance in enforcement instruments.
  • The Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center is well functioning cooperating with other turtle centers like Medasset, a specialized center for turtles in Mediterranean and cooperating with other project/experts focused on sea turtle conservation. During 2018-2019 there are received 9 sea turtles, treated, cured and released. All the individuals received are Caretta caretta, 6 male, 2 female and 1 not identified. 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.).
  • Development of the Strategic Plan for the Visitor Center (SPVC) is one of the important achievements of the project. Taking further the SPVS recommendations and its plan of actions the project engaged local NGOsand CBOs for Implementation of the Strategic Plan.
  • The electronic newsletter of the Marine Park Karaburun – Sazani was issued and delivered to a wide number of stakeholders, partner and interested groups of professionals and NGOs. This newsletter was launched as a project initiative based on the center's strategic plan. The purpose is to provide simple and up-to-date information on the marine park and activities implemented through this center and the RAPA Vlore. The newsletter is becoming indeed a very useful tool featuring all significant activities, achievement and challenges that RAPA and the project are facing in a bimonthly bases, attesting for efficient mean of education, information and awareness amidst the local communities, visitors and all recipients of this material.
  • 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. For almost one year, through these recycling efforts it was collected in total 4,200 kg UCO and shipped to the specialised recycling facilities. The company accomplished successfully envisaged tasks, enabling used cooking oil collection and recycling from the main restaurants along the coastline in Vlora, as well as branding and awareness towards the targeted stakeholders and communities in respect to waste recycling activities. A very prominent support and assistance was provided from the project and RAPA through mobilization of resource locally as well as operating the system; it involved the main groups of stakeholders, employing 33 persons (18 males app. 64%, 10 females appr. 36%, 3 minorities app. 12% and 2 persons with different abilities app. 7%); the final stage of this project is the closing workshop on lessons sharing and final guidance remarks towards the restaurants, hotels, and touristic operators, based on main finding of this assignment.
  • The cleanup of the seabed within the area of Karaburuni – Sazani PA was an important activity intending to extend the improvement of the waste management practices undertaken in targeted area, Thre were the main sites covered by the sea bed cleaning services: Boat Bay / Southern dock, Haxhi Aliu cave and Grama Bay. The diving actions associating the cleanup was performed up to a maximum depth of approximately -20 meters or on a seashore distance appr. 200 m and was closely referring to obtained marine maps for the areas.
  • The project committed the national consultancy to estimate the impact from fishery activities of the Marine Protected Area Karaburun-Sazan. The report prepared for that purpose focused on the fishing activities in the area and the actual status of the MPA based on the estimation of fishing activities and their impact in the MPA ecosystem and its surroundings, analysis of the fishery capacity and effort in the Vlora bay and its impact on the marine environment, as well as an overview of the organizational situation of the fishery sector in the Vlora region. Pertinent data were provided from analysis of already existing statistics, studies and reports but also some data coming from field visits and meeting with the local stakeholders. In an effort to demonstrate the mitigating impacts from unstainable fishing the project is identifying the most suitable and affordable small-scale demonstration actions to address existing human activities that may degrade or decrease fish stock or washout aquatic marine environment (bottom trawlers, purse seiners, small-scale fishery, recreational fishery).
  • The Management Committee (MC) is established and the first meeting was held on 21st March 2019 with the main goal constituting the MC of the PAs of Vlora County. It is chaired by the Prefect of Vlora as the MC Chairman. The project is assisting the RAPA to strengthen their capacity as MC Secretariat and cooperating with other projects with focus on supporting and increasing Management Committee capacities to better address MPA K-S management and conservation issues as well as respond adequately to sustainable tourism challenges.
  • National and international consultancies are engaged on a sound analyses of biophysical and socioeconomic data on the existing information, developing dedicated reference library with specific baseline data from key locations throughout the marine and coastal areas of Albania. It included and analyzes of the situation of marine biodiversity in the proposed Strategic Plan for Marine and Coastal Protected Areas as potential sites for MPAs in Albania, climate change risk data, zoning and demarcation of sensitive areas, identify the most potential areas suitable for MPA designation subject to habitat viability and living marine species abundance and distribution, critical areas for habitat protection, uses and socioeconomic value of these areas. The consultancy is focused on Karaburun-Sazan MPA model and experiences gain so far.


Status Active Duration November 2017 – November 2020 Budget: 1 million Euro Coverage: Marine Park Karaburun – Sazani, Vlora region, Albanian MCPAs Beneficiaries: State authorities involved with marine and coastal area management and conservation, namely the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, National Agency of Protected Areas (NAPA), local public authorities, local resource users and communities, NGOs Focus Area: Environment & Climate Change Partners: National Agency of Protected Areas (NAPA) Project Document Improving coverage and management effectiveness of marine and coastal protected areas (MCPAs) - PHASE II DONOR Italian Government.

Project details




Project start date:

June 2017

Estimated end date:

December 2021

Focus area:

  • eradicate poverty in all its forms and dimensions
  • Project office:

    UNDP in Albania

    Implementing partner:

    GOVT as Executing and Implemen

    Full project information  

    Funding Support by

    Donor name

  • United Nations Development Pro
  • Government Of Italy
  • Amount contributed


    Delivery in previous fiscal year

    2020 $176,784

    2019 $257,777

    2018 $329,850

    2017 $33,363

    Sazan Karaburun is the first Marine Protected Area in Albania

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