The GEF project “Implementation of the Ecosystem Approach in the Adriatic Sea through Marine Spatial Planning” (GEF Adriatic), a sub-regional project implemented in Albania and Montenegro, aims at restoring the ecological balance of the Adriatic Sea through implementation of the ecosystem approach and marine spatial planning (MSP).
The GEF Adriatic project also aims at accelerating the implementation of the Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) Protocol and the mainstreaming of monitoring obligations of other Protocols of the Barcelona Convention into the ecosystem-based integrated monitoring and assessment programme (IMAP). Implementation of the ecosystem approach through IMAP follows a process of integrated assessment and monitoring of all the key environmental components: biodiversity and fisheries, hydrographic processes, coastal ecosystems and landscapes, as well as pollution from eutrophication, contaminants and marine litter.
The Project is jointly implemented by SPA/RAC, PAP/RAC and UNEP/MAP in collaboration with the relevant national institutions of Albania and Montenegro: Ministry of Tourism and Environment with National Agency for Protected Areas (Albania) and Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism (Montenegro).
The specific objectives of the Project are:
In order to do so, the first step was to prepare the initial integrated monitoring programmes, one for Albania and one for Montenegro, based on the existing knowledge. These included monitoring programmes for biodiversity, non-indigenous species, fisheries, hydrography, coastal ecosystems and landscapes, eutrophication, contaminants and marine litter, with agreed indicators established under the Barcelona Convention. In addition, the countries are preparing assessment documents to determine the current status of the marine environment and propose measures to help reach good environmental status (GES).
However, due to the identified knowledge gaps it was decided to undertake field surveys in both countries in order to fill up those gaps. The field survey in Montenegro was conducted in the fall of 2019, while for Albania it had originally been set for spring 2020, but it was postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Implementation of national monitoring programmes and the related measures to reach GES in these two countries contributes towards a better understanding of the overall state of marine environment and enables collaboration in the sub-region toward achieving GES in the Adriatic.
A marine spatial plan is to be developed in Montenegro in order to contribute towards improving environmental status of the Adriatic. This plan is the first of its kind in Montenegro, and is a demonstration project for the entire Adriatic Sea region. Even though no plan will be prepared in Albania, national consultations with relevant authorities took place to understand the planning system and the legal and institutional needs for the MSP implementation. Trainings and workshops will be organized in both countries.
A specific attention is paid to stakeholder involvement, including users of the marine space and the private sector. The aim is to foster understanding of the issues which would enable them to contribute to the development and implementation of solutions. It also contributes to raising awareness at the political level and among decision makers, thus creating the enabling environment for actions to be taken.
The project’s main added value is that a methodology integrating MSP and the ecosystem approach, as reflected in the IMAP, will be produced. This methodology will be tested in a designated zone in Montenegro, and the capacities of both beneficiary countries will be strengthened in order to be able to implement this methodology.