Project Background

The idea began from the indications that the EC Directives (on a.Waters and b.Marine Strategy) and the Greek national legislation (details in section B.8) make for the responsible of the marine waters authorities as far as the monitoring of the eutrophication risk is concerned. In this context and with the occasion of the IPA CBC Gr-Al program, the Epirus Regional Directorate of Waters of the Decentralized Administrations of Epirus-Western Macedonia and the Environment Directorate of the Region of Ionian Islands contacted the corresponding Directorate of the Regional Council of Vlora, so as to exploit the now-days Earth Observation and ICT evolution and commonly develop and implement a project which will deliver a satellite monitoring component, available via web in Near Real Time mode, for all the eligible coastal marine area of the program, that will be complementary to the ongoing relevant activities and will help to tackle the common problem of the eutrophication risk

In order to strengthen the partnership from the Albanian side was contacted Milieukontakt International Albania (MIA), a noticed environmental NGO, which with its experience can guaranty the smooth implementation of the actions described in the present proposal.

The sea for Corfu, Thesprotia and Vlora, more than a physical link, is thought to be the one of the most important factors that directly and indirectly is associated with the wider economic development of the area. The most significant economic sectors of the area, such as tourism, fishery and aquaculture are strictly linked with the sea and the quality of its waters. The importance therefore of the need for monitoring and protecting the marine environment in these areas is more than evident.
One of the most important threats of the marine coastal ecosystem, as described also in the relevant EC directives for a) Waters and b) Marine Strategy, is the Eutrophication risk. Eutrophication of the coastal marine waters is caused by the addition of artificial or natural substances, such as nitrates and phosphates, through fertilizers (that reach the sea through surface or ground moving waters) and sewage.

The outcome of this is the great increase of phytoplankton in the waters, which has negative effects such as losses in biodiversity,
ecosystem degradation, harmful algae blooms and oxygen deficiency in bottom waters. Other negative effects are that, some species may experience an increase in population that negatively affects other species. For example, nutrient enrichment of marine waters promotes the growth of algae (algae bloom), which leads to a complex suite of interconnected biological and chemical responses that can severely degrade water quality and threaten human health and sustainability of living resources in the coastal zone. In general, eutrophication has emerged as a key human stressor on the world’s coastal ecosystems and the economic impacts of it can be severe as there are examples worldwide where tourism is lost and shellfish harvest and fishing are closed across increasingly widespread marine regions.

This project proposal aims to be a response to the of lack of coordinated environmental protection actions, as mentioned in the program’s SWOT and does this by interfering the responsible by law authorities of both countries in collaboration with experts of the field, with the objective to tackle a specific common problem. On the same hand the project proposal aims also to get advantage of opportunities that arise from the environmental policies of the EU and the request for compliance. This has led to big investments in the field of space technology which address this specific problem in a way that a certain know how has been gained from different private entities which can support, as external expertise, the outcome and the results of this specific project.