Environmental experts met in Herceg Novi, Montenegro to set up an action plan for ecosystem-based management in the southern Adriatic Sea ecoregion

A Med Biodiversity protection community workshop was organised on 31 May 2019 in Herceg Novi, Montenegro, where environmental experts gathered to address how to better manage transboundary environmental impacts caused by sectoral development in priority areas, paving the way towards an action plan for ecosystem-based management in the southern Adriatic Sea ecoregion.

The Montenegro workshop focused on one ecoregion in the Mediterranean, the Southern Adriatic, specifically the South Adriatic Ionian Strait Ecologically and Biologically Significant Marine Area (EBSA), which lies partially within the jurisdictions of the countries of Albania, Croatia, Italy and Montenegro. The aim of the workshop was to foster an open exchange between the relevant Adriatic Sea stakeholders including managers, policymakers, civil society and the scientific community.  It was built upon questionnaires conducted in 2018 and presented at the CBD COP 14 meeting in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt in November 2018. This is an integrated work developed based on the efforts of several Interreg Med co-financed projects focusing on Biodiversity Protection and research groups working in the Adriatic and the Mediterranean Seas.

Transboundary cooperation is key to maintaining healthy seas and collective natural resources, including fisheries and biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction. As such, Ecosystem-based Management (EBM) is an important and powerful approach that can be used. However, it needs to be communicated more widely to properly assess its relevance, potential and utility. EBM directly links ecosystem state to pressures. This requires transboundary assessment, monitoring and management.  There are practical advantages of using spatial boundaries of ecosystems as delineated by their ecological community structure and functioning.  These areas are called ecoregions and it is where critical processes need to be maintained to ensure the persistence of natural resources and ecosystem services. Understanding ecological processes and policies at ecoregional scale and using appropriate planning and management units are entry points to best practice EBM.

The workshop concluded into 6 main recommendations notably considering:

  •  Multiple pressures and impacts on the south Adriatic Sea
  • Actions for conservation and management beyond nationally protected areas and national boundaries
  • The use of an eco-regional planning approach accounting for multiple hierarchical scales
  • The use of policies and planning tools reflecting the transboundary nature of sea life
  • Transboundary maritime spatial planning
  • Co-management and pro-active decentralised mechanisms

Building on the main common conclusions and recommendations extracted from the Herceg Novi workshop in Montenegro resulting from the open exchange and active involvement of its participants, a roadmap addressing transboundary impacts in this common marine ecoregion was set. The next steps envisaged are a three-year action plan (2019-2022), co-financed by the Interreg Med programme specific objective on Biodiversity Protection.

To learn more about the workshop main conclusions and recommendations,see below to download the full report.