Artisanal Fisherman near Karaburun Sazan MPA

UNDP Albania

Improving Coverage and Effectiveness Management of Marine and Coastal Protected Areas – Phase II


UNDP and AICS (the Italian Agency for Cooperation and Development) are working in collaboration with the National Agency for Protected Areas (NAPA) to ensure comprehensive and effective management of the coastal and marine environment of throughout Albania.  The main goal of this collaboration is to secure the long-term protection of Albania’s unique coastal and marine biodiversity for current and future generations. These issues were addressed by the current project through developing a scientifically designed, stakeholder supported network of MCPAs to effectively protect 30% of representative marine and coastal habitats of Albania.

The specific project objective is to develop MCPA network, which aims to maintain healthy, productive and resilient ecosystems and provide required ecosystem services for communities, by allowing recovery and maintenance of the marine biodiversity of Albania. Moreover, the main distinct areas of development where project focuses are:

  • intensifying and strengthening management activities for Karaburun-Sazan 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.

Underwater: Karaburun - Sazan Marine Park


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 urbanization, tourism and industrial development have led to water pollution, soil erosion, and overfishing. As a result, the marine and coastal biodiversity and also the sustainability of ecosystem goods and services have been threatened.

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, ecosystems changes 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.

In order to ensure the protection and preservation of nature values for the future generations a system of PAs was established in Albania, which functioning is regulated by the law on Protected Areas. This law has provided significant improvement in the overall management effectiveness of the country’s system of PAs, covering 504,826.30 ha (as per gazetted DCMs) of marine and terrestrial habitats (appr. 17.56 % of national territory). This legal and regulatory frame is substantially contributing to planning, administration and use of PAs in Albania by consolidating the legal context for the declaration, conservation, administration, management and use of the PAs and their natural and biological resources. In addition, it facilitates the conditions for the development of environmental tourism, public information and education, and the generation of direct and indirect economic benefits by the local population, as well as the public and private sectors. The current funding baselines for the PA system, and the capacities to administer and improve PA revenue streams, are still well below the levels required to ensure that the protected area system can properly serve its function as an important tool to protect biodiversity.


Awareness raising activity in Vlora Bay

Awareness raising activity in Vlora Bay

UNDP Albania

Major Achievements

  • 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 Karaburun-Sazan MPA, while guidance, support and facilitation are provided to the Regional Administration of Protected Areas (RAPA) of Vlora for accomplishing several management actions.
  • Synergies and liaison are focused with international organizations /donors to collaborate with key project partners and aligning funding opportunities with the demanding management activities at Karaburun-Sazan MPA (MedPAN, EU, Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), Conservatoire du Littoral, etc.)
  • Supporting RAPA with more appropriate and adoptive patrolling capacities by enabling provision and operation of a new speedboat for surveying the MPA area.
  • Advice on legal and regulatory instruments relevant to MPA K-S, and implementing procedures for the Protected Areas Law and respective enforcement measures. 
  • Supporting the well-functioning of The Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center and cooperating with project/experts focused on sea turtle conservation and other turtle centers like MEDASSET, a specialized center for turtles in Mediterranean.
  • Development of the Strategic Plan for the Visitor Center (SPVC).
  • Construction of the first system of continuous monitoring stations of the sea water temperature.
  • Analyses of chemical, biophysical and socioeconomic data and respective indicators monitoring, through national and international consultancies, incorporating all information in RAPA /NAPA database and delivering respective GIS thematic mapping.
  • Planning, designing and implementing a scientific webinar platform for exchanging experience and know-how on MCPA monitoring and research amidst MPA Albanian and Italian scientist and MPA related bodies linking Italian universities.
  • National consultancy on estimating the impact from fishery activities of the Marine Protected Area Karaburun-Sazan resulting on pertinent data from analysis of already existing statistics, studies and reports but also some data coming from field visits and meeting with the local stakeholders
  • Guideline for customers, security & health and Marketing Protocols were prepared and consulted in a workshop with participation of the park administration, prefecture, fishermen, NGOs, etc.
  • Initiation of the process for reducing the negative impacts of the mismanaged waste streams generated from economic operators and other subjects along the Vlore Bay and introduction and practicing of sustainable waste management approaches.
  • Cleanup activities of the seabed within the area of Karaburun – Sazan MPA.
  • 19 electronic newsletters of the Marine Park Karaburun – Sazan developed so far and delivered to a wide number of stakeholders, partner and interested groups of professionals and NGOs.
  • 3 Juniors are affiliated with the Visitor Centre in Radhima and continue to support for the Visitor Centre functionality.
  • 5 anchoring and 5 signaling buoys have been installed and deployed in the boarders of the MPA K-S (National Marine Park Karaburun-Sazan), with the sole purposes to ensure its effective management, patrolling and ecosystem monitoring.

Project Outcome

Component 1- intensifying and strengthening management activities for Karaburun-Sazan MPA

Component 2- replicating this model across Albania’s coastal and marine areas through the development of a scientifically designed and multiple objective-based network of MCPAs;

Component 3- strengthening the governance-based institutional support to the MCPAs network and the inter-sectoral coordination and collaboration.


Marine and coastal protected areas logos