MedWetCoast Project for conservation of Wetlands and Coastal Ecosystems in the Mediterranean Region MedWetCoast Project for conservation of Wetlands and Coastal Ecosystems in the Mediterranean Region
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Meeting report
Minutes of 4th meeting of the Local Steering Committee of MedWetCoast albania
22 July 2003, 10.00 AM - Meeting Room of the Coast Guard Head Quarters- Vlora
Thursday 31 July 2003, by Web Team

Mr. Shpetim Gjika, Prefect of Vlora, welcomed the participants and appreciates their presence in this meeting of the Local Steering Committee (LSC) of the Project. He noticed that this is the fourth LSC meeting since the project commencement while from one year no LSC meetings have been organized due to project temporary suspension because of the drilling oil well activity in Zvernec. He recalled that the oil drilling yield negative results and actually the project has re-started its activities; this 4th meeting of the LSC of the Project is one of them. The LSC will review the project progress so far, those activities which have been carried out and most immediate problems during this the year. Based on the significant level of representation and background of the participants he asked for their input and contribution to this meeting in addressing the issues and problems faced so far. The members of LSC were provided in advance with the meeting files/binder thus he invited the participants to discuss according to the agenda.

Mr. Zamir Dedej, Project Director, thanked the members of the LSC for their presence in this meeting and asked for a more efficient work in order to achieve project objective and related results. He called for a technically oriented approach of the project and this asks for a much more dedicated contribution and maximal efforts by the all members of the LSC. He invited everybody to come up with the ideas, which can become part of plans and activities of the project. The project restarted and needs from all of us better work.

(JPEG) Ms. Violeta Zuna, Project Manager, addressed in her presentation the key project developments made so far, the main activities and associated results in her presentation. She reminded the members of the LSC on the actual legal frame and state policies developed until recently, on their relevance and common concern to the project objectives; the main legal instrument of this kind are the law on protected areas, the law for the protection of the marine environment from the pollution and degradation, as well as the law for the biodiversity protection which is under approval by the Parliament. The other legal instruments providing support for the activities of the project regard decision of council of ministers on management of protected areas, and on the procedures for the nomination and proclaiming of the protected and buffer areas, recognition and establishment of the Local and National Steering Committee with an interdisciplinary active commitments etc. In this scope, there have been several project activities focused on the biodiversity protection and area conservation including site diagnosis studies, establishment of the data base for the wildlife of the project site, site mapping and wildlife mapping, monitoring of the endangered species, hydrological monitoring. Efforts are put on the initiation of the site management plan.

Ms. Zuna highlighted the particular attention and concern dedicated to the monitoring of oil drilling activity, which took place in Zverneci area and also the surveillance of the drilling site rehabilitation plan. It has been an assessment carried out by specialized international company (ERM). Observations and analyses were made in different sites close to drilling area by scientific institutions, whose conclusion was that the area was not polluted. The monitoring of the area comprised water quality, air and noise pollution, and birds. Actually the Project office Ministry of Environment and the company INA Naftaplin are cooperating for the site rehabilitation.

The specific actions taken according to the project planning incorporated forestation in 2 selected areas, celebration of the wetland day with an workshop for the site diagnosis results, public awareness activities on the World Environmental day, on illegal hunting and fishing, on illegal buildings, involvement of the local community and NGO-s in project activities, publishing and issuing of the project newsletter to different reporting organizations.

She draw the attention on some useful lessons learned regarding importance of the local and national steering committees, a more careful and management of the situation given the new industrial developments in the area, involvement of the local authorities and local communities to provide sustainable project efforts in biodiversity protection. On the other side, the project has provided knowledge transfer, exchange of experience and strengthens the cooperation in different levels.

Mr. Eno Dodbiba informed about the Draft/Decision of the Council of Ministers for the proclamation of the Project area as a protected area. He briefly explained the main elements of the draft decision, specifications of the overall project site, which are included in the draft decision, specifications regarding the management and administration aspects of the suggested protected areas.

Part of the discussion became the remarks and input provided by the representatives of the local authorities who were previously asked to provide their opinions on this draft decision. The main concerns and remarks of the local authorities regarded the ownership and cultural inheritance of the population living in the area and some other suggestions for involvement of the municipal and other local representatives in the elaboration of the site management plans and regulations. It was made clear that the process of land privatization should not interfere with the process of protected areas proclamation.

On this purpose Mr. Dedei emphasizes that all the institutions are answered positively for proclaiming the protected areas as foreseen in the draft decision apart of the remarks received by the Orikumi Municipality whose position, due to historical and legal misinterpretation need more clarification. He explained that by proclaiming a protected are does not mean at all that the owner is not recognized his own property but in contrary it is offered to the landlord a more advanced status of biodiversity protection in his property. The substance of the law on protected areas envisages the concept of extending a certain protection area or protection status by including buffer or agricultural zones and increasing the habitats of that area.

Mr. Xhemil Seferi commented on the importance of the ownership problem by entrusting the environmental politics, but emphasize the solution of the ownership problem beforehand. He was skeptic on approval of the draft decision before the land ownership problem solved.

Mr. Dedei argued that the ownership process a continuous process and does not relate to the draft decision being discussed. As for the geographical nominations in the draft decision they are not very important from the technical point of view but they do inherit a life long tradition

The discussion on this issue intended to clarify the problem. It was agreed to organize meetings and expert visits in the Orikumi municipality together with the representatives of the community of Dukati area, in order to solve the concerns raised by the Dukati community.

Mr. Petrit Dervishi briefly informed about the project proposal "Cleaning Up and Systematization of Zverneci Island" emphasizing the necessity of the interventions in Zverneci Island. He mentioned the values of this island as a natural monument and a peregrine area for many people, and also the very threats in this area from the urban residues. It asks for cleaning up and systematization activities to take effect in the island, which will improve its situation. Of great importance was considered the sustainability of this cleaning activity.

In this regard Mr. Dedei noticed that the project for Cleaning Up and Systematization of the Zverneci island will not be implemented without taking in advance the confirmation from the institutions administrating the island, from the Church and Qender commune.

Mr. Vezir Meta supported the project proposal for the Zverneci Island and suggested a protocol undersigned between the Qender commune and the Church in order to provide firm commitment by the interested parties. In the position of Director of Water Directorate, he took over to provide two of the machinery of its enterprise for purpose of the waste transport twice per month.

Mr. Zigur Sula asked for more responsibilities by the Qender commune maintenance works in Zverneci island.

Mr. Llazar Gjonca reported on the interviews made during March - June 2003 to the population of project area. The interviews aimed evaluate the opinions and ideas of the community in relation to the project. For purpose of this activity different means were used such as asking different groups of the community in the project area and out of it, groups exercising pressure on the area through their activities as fisherman communities, hunters and farmers, and people who do not exercise any activity in the area but are actually living in the area. The community asks for the law enforcements and implementation from all the responsible institutions, stop all the illegal activities in the project area, investments in the area without damaging the environment.

Mr. Mitaq Kllapi discussed about the very important problem of water withdraws from Narta Lagoon into the Salt factory. He tried to argue that the water intake from Narta lagoon is performed in specific moments and this action is not damaging the lagoon but at contrary it helps it because it lowers the % of the salt in the lagoon. He noticed that together with the fishermen association in the Big Channel, they have reached an agreement to exchange petrol versus maintenance of the channel in order to keep it in acceptable technical parameters.

Mr. Dervishi disagreed with the ideas of Mr. Kllapi and pointed out that one of the main factors are leading the lagoon in degradation, is the water intake from Narta Lagoon to the Salt factory. This action is catastrophic for the lagoon. He emerged for put in function the net, which supplies the Salt factory with water from the Sea.

Mr. Filip Paco (Chairman of the association of the Narta fishermen) considered that the water intake from the lagoon, influences very much this ecosystem. One of the problems he mentioned is the maintenance of the Big Channel in well working conditions. With the support of the Salt Factory help they are maintaining it actually, but the expenses are considerable. They are eager to have a feasibility study, which would give a technical long-term solution, and providing reduced expenses for the channel maintenance. The state must also provide some support in order to choose the right solution.

Mr. Dedei noticed that resolving the water exchange between the sea and the lagoon is very problematic. A study must be done, and let explore the existing materials or relevant studies, if there are such.

Mr. Zigur Sula informed that during last two years for the Big and Small Channels have been invested nearly 20 million leks, and still there is not a permanent solution. A complete study must be realized for the stabilization of the two channels. In relation to the Salt Factory they have not considered seriously this problem and have taken no measures for putting of nets in the water intake place, in order to prohibit the fish entering in the salt mines.

Mr. Dedei suggested that the budget allocated to the Agricultural Directorate for the maintenance of the channels might be partially used for completing a study regarding the water exchange between sea and lagoon. Related to the Salt factory he suggested that all the parties should contribute in the development of a feasibility study in order to stabilize the water exchange between sea and lagoon. An engineering solution should be found. All the participants agreed that all the parties and interested bodies must contribute in order to find a final solution for the water exchange (including Agricultural Directorate, Salt Factory and the Waters Directorate).

Participants:

- Shpetim Gjika - Prefect of Vlora
- Zamir Dedej - Project Director, Ministry of Environment
- Violeta Zuna - National Project Coordinator, MedWetCoast project
- Eno Dodbiba - National Technical Expert, MedWetCoast project
- Petrit Dervishi - Local Coordinator, MedWetCoast project
- Llazar Gjonca - Local expert, MedWetCoast project
- Agron Likaj - Head of the Qender Commune
- Zigur Sula - Director of Agriculture Department
- Jahja Telharaj - Head of the Cadastre
- Luiza Zani - Head of the Regional Environmental Agency
- Vezir Meta - Director of Water Department
- Mitaq Kllapi - Technical Director of the Salt Enterprise
- Filip Paço - Chairman of the Narta Fishing Association
- Ilir Manço - Commandant of Marine District
- Arben Hysi - Deputy Head of the Novosele Commune
- Xhemil Seferi - Representative of Orikumi Municipality
- Lida Bonjaku - Vlora University
- Pellumb Tare - Agriculture and Environmental Adviser at the Prefecture of Vlora
- Mirjan Dederi -Dignitary of the Qender Commune


-  Report edited by Violeta Zuna, Project Manager







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