On April 28th 2010 the Council of Ministers of Albania proclaimed the first Marine Protected Area in Albania: Sazani Island – Karaburuni Peninsula. This area was given the status of National Marine Park (IUCN category II), including a total surface of 12.570 ha.
The process has been carried out within the framework of Supporting Country Action on the CBD Programme of Work on Protected Areas, the Albanian project ‘Protected Areas Gap Assessment and Marine Protected Areas Development in Albania’, was implemented during 2008 – 2010. Most of activities of the project were dedicated to the analysis of the 8 proposed areas as potential MPAs from the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan and identification of one target area to be proposed as the first MPA in Albania, as well as preparation of all procedures (scientific and social-cultural justification, legal and institutional framework) for claiming the first MPA in Albania.
Sazani Island – Karaburuni Peninsula has been selected as the target area to be proclaimed the first MPA and its values and potentials have been highlighted in all aspects, in order to justify this proposal.
This area owns high natural and biodiversity values, due to the presence of important species, habitats and associations, such as “trottoirs” of Lithophyllum byssoides in mediolittoral, as bio-constructors, biocenosis of mediolittoral caves, Posidonia oceanica meadows, Cystoseira sp in mediolittoral, the red coral Corallium rubrum, Coralligenous biocenosis with a high diversity of red calcareous algae, gorgonians, bryozoans, etc. The presence of several globally threatened species has been recorded in Sazani-Karaburuni area, such as the loggerhead turtle Caretta caretta, the common dolphin Delphinus delphis, the bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncates and the Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus. At least 36 marine species, which are of international concern and belong to the lists of endangered and/or protected species of several conventions (Barcelona, Bonn, CITES, Bern) have been recorded in this area, together with 75% of endangered species of marine animals, which belong to the Red Book of Albanian Fauna (2006) and to the Red List of Albanian Fauna (2007).
This area is also an area of high historical, archaeological and social-cultural values, as a testimony of an ancient civilization, well known at least since Greek and Roman periods. The Grama Bay, situated in the south west of Karaburuni Peninsula is a former famous harbor since thousands of years. On its rocks there are abundant inscriptions in old Greek and Latin languages, dating more than 2000 years that have made this bay to be considered as the richest “rocky diary” in the Mediterranean. The ancient town of Orikumi (former Orik), in the south east of Karaburuni, was one of the most important Illyrian ports, founded in 4th century BC and mentioned as an important economic and cultural center in the Mediterranean during the ancient Greek and Roman periods until the Medieval period.
The complexity of values of this area, with the landscape, nature, biodiversity, underwater topography, history, culture, archaeology, clean and quiet beaches, traditional farming with old breeds etc. offers high potentials for all kind of tourism, sports, educational activities and social – cultural values that are important for the management of the MPA and for the benefits of the local community.