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MSP exercise in Southern Adriatic/Northern Ionian


The analysis on ADRIPLAN Focus Areas downscaled and applied at the sub-regional level the overall MSP methodology developed by the project. This analysis entered in more details of the site-specific environmental, socio-economic, regulatory and governance conditions, allowing to propose for those areas more focused, precise, short-term and locally applicable measures or recommendations. In particular for the Focus Area 2 (Southern Adriatic - Northern Ionian area) four main planning issues emerged: (i) need to promote and spatially define environmental conservation measures along the Apulian coast; (ii) need to harmonize present and future conflicting activities in Apulian off-shore waters; (iii) need to manage conflicting activities and natural conservation in Greek territorial waters; (iv) need to define cross-border cooperation measures between Greece, Albania and Italy for aquaculture and fishery.

Application in MSP:
Type of Issue:
Type of practice:
Stage of MSP cycle:
Cross-border / trans-national aspect:
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Development / Implementation Context

This MSP exercise in the Southern Adriatic - Northern Ionian area was implemented in the context of the ADRIPLAN project (ADRiatic Ionian maritime spatial PLANning). ADRIPLAN has the overall objective to analyse and promote transboundary MSP in the Adriatic and Ionian region, a Mediterranean area bordered by many states and crowded by multiple uses of the sea and valuable ecosystems to protect. Other studies and projects already showed the great potential for MSP in the area (e.g. Plancoast; SHAPE; Policy Research Corporation’s study, 2011). The ADRIPLAN project developed proposals and recommendations for an operational cross-border MSP process in the region. In addition, ADRIPLAN aimed at promoting the harmonized implementation of the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian region (EUSAIR). The ADRIPLAN project was implemented by 17 Partners from 4 EU countries of the Adriatic and Ionian region, including: 8 scientific partners and 9 institutional partners. 17 observers also contributed to the project.

Legal basis

This is a MSP exercise, not legally binding.

Impact on planning and decision-making

The ADRIPLAN project aimed at improving the on-going process to develop MSP in the Adriatic and Ionian region, to overcoming barriers of full participation of all neighbouring countries in the process and promoting sound technically/scientifically based political decisions in order to achieve a coherent transnational approach to the spatial planning of the marine seas

Area covered

ADRIPLAN study area is the Adriatic and Ionian region considered as a whole, zooming into two focus areas, one in the Northern Adriatic Sea and the other in Southern Adriatic - Northern Ionian area (referring to the present practice).

This is the ADRIPLAN study area Focus area 1

Historic development

The MSP exercise was developed as part of the ADRIPLAN project, funded by DG MARE. The project ran from December 2013 to July 2015.

Objectives of the plan

For the purposes of MSP exercise in Focus Area 2, four relevant planning issues were selected:

  • Analysis of conflicts in Apulian territorial waters (Italy) and promotion and spatial definition of environmental conservation measures;
  • Harmonization of present and future (in particular the Trans Adriatic Pipeline and new and additional hydrocarbon exploration requests of authorization) conflicting activities in Apulian off-shore waters (Italy);
  • Mitigation of conflicts in north-east Ionian Sea (Greek territorial waters);
  • Cross-border cooperation measures between Greece, Albania and Italy for fishery and aquaculture in the south-eastern part of Focus Area 2.

Designated Uses

Issue 1 – Analysing conflicts in Apulian territorial waters (Italy) and promoting and spatially defining environmental conservation measures


  • In the Italian territorial waters of ADRIPLAN Focus Area 2, several human activities take place determining hot spots of conflicts. The most important marine areas deserving a MSP effort, also in terms of socio-economic importance, are:
  • the area of the city of Bari, currently highly populated and urbanised and characterized also by intense port activities;
  • the area surrounding the town of Brindisi, highly populated and anthropized by urban settlements and facilities, seaside touristic activities, industrial areas, a carbon power plant (Cerano) and a big shipping port. In this are there are still widespread natural areas and a MPA;
  • the area located in the coast of the Lecce town where coast consists mostly of soft bottoms with critical erosion necessitating coastal defence works. The main activities in this area are small-scale fishery and trawling interacting with a massive bathing tourism flow.


Relating to this issue, the following targets were considered in the MSP exercise:

  • Definition of a new protected area;
  • Reaching common policies agreements and ensured enforcement through co-operative monitoring and surveillance;
  • Engagement of fishery associations along with stakeholders from other uses in the MSP process and investigate trade-off of different planning scenarios;
  • Need to include spawning and nursery areas in MSP activities, considering their spatial-temporal dimension;
  • Need to coordinate action between different institution and bodies involved in energy projects authorization processes;
  • In case of new MPA institutions, in Italy, the area Otranto-Santa Maria di Leuca should be protected.

These are the interactions among existing human relevant activities

Issue 2 – Harmonizing present and future conflicting activities in Apulian off-shore waters

In the Apulian part of Focus Area 2, apart from the existing activities, conflicts with energy infrastructures can be boosted in the next years. The new area of conflict emerging is due to the planned Trans Adriatic Pipeline reaching the Apulian coast slightly north of the city of Otranto. Moreover, hydrocarbon exploration authorisations are heavily increasing along the whole Apulian coast. Conflicts with energy infrastructures can be merely spatial (e.g. spatial limitations for trawling due to pipelines) or can have greater implications. In fact, recent pressure for surveys for oil and gas using acoustic technologies is considered an area of heavy conflict with fisheries, since technologies such as air guns may have serious impacts on different ecosystem components, especially on fish stocks. Specific measures were not identified by the MSP excercise ran within ADRIPLAN.

This is the planned Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP)

Issue 3- Mitigation of conflicts in north-east Ionian Sea (Greek territorial waters)

In the Greek territorial waters of Focus Area 2 different types of human activities currently take place such as bottom trawling, small scale fishing, aquaculture, ports, marinas, shipping lanes, cables. Future developments also consider offshore wind farms and hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation. With respect to ecosystem components, five elements are considered of high importance; namely essential fish habitats, Natura 2000 sites, sea grass meadows, Mediterranean monk seals, and cetaceans.

Cumulative impact assessment pointed out a great overlapping between activities and ecosystem components, with a rather high impact, particularly in coastal areas. In the scenario of future developments the entire area is exposed to heavier pressure on ecosystem components

It was concluded that the entire area and especially the Diapontia islands complex need an effective spatial management plan not only to minimize the possibilities of further deterioration of the status of the ecosystem but even to improve existing conditions. Specific measures were not identified by the MSP excercise ran within ADRIPLAN.

These are the main activities in the Greek part of the ADRIPLAN Focus Area

Issue 4- Cross-border cooperation measures between Greece, Albania and Italy for fishery and aquaculture in the south-eastern part of Focus Area 2

Greece has already a well-developed aquaculture activity and the highest production in the Adriatic and Ionian region. A number of units are placed in the Greek Ionian Sea, few of which are close to the transnational waters with Albania. This latter country has a rather limited development of aquaculture, but substantial progress has been made in recent years, particularly in the southern part, close to the Greek border. A precise designation of the cross-border AZA (allocation zone for aquaculture) between Greece and Albania is needed and development of cross-border collaboration urges for bi­lateral policy agreements between the two countries.

As far as fishery is concerned, specific areas lying in international waters or within Greek waters where cross-border management of fishing is needed have been identified through workshops held in Greece and in Italy. Need to stop illegal fishing activities in Greek waters was pointed out.

Strategic Environmental Assessment

As pilot MSP exercise, Strategic Environmental Assessment was not applied.

Public Participation

Within ADRIPLAN the measures related with Focus Area 2 were discussed in an informal context. This project organized stakeholder participation to MSP exercises. Stakeholders’ workshops were hold in Corfu (Greece) on 27 June 2014 and Lecce (Italy) on 11 March 2015. Details on workshops results are available on ADRIPLAN web site (

Transboundary Consultation

Some transboundary issues were considered in ADRIPLAN project in a separate analysis focused on fishery, that was addressed by stakeholder workshops held in Corfu (Greece) and Lecce (Italy). Moreover, existing conflicts among Greek, Italian and Albanian fleets in international and Greek waters emerged as elements to be solved (see issue 4 under “Designated uses” section).

Electronic resources

Project website ( makes available the following documents, respectively including detailed and summary description of ADRIPLAN methodology and MSP exercises:

ADRIPLAN Conclusions and Recommendations. A short manual for MSP implementation in the Adriatic – Ionian region (multiple languages);

ADRIPLAN Developing a maritime spatial plan for the Adriatic – Ionian Region.


The practice was elaborated under the Project Adriplan ( co-financed by the European Union (DG MARE). Direct costs of ist elaboration are unknown.

Contact Person

Andrea Barbanti (ADRIPLAN coordinator from 10.12.2013 to 31.10.2014)

National Research Council, Institute of Marine Science

E-mail: (andrea[dot]barbanti[at]ve[dot]ismar[dot]cnr[dot]it)


Pierpaolo Campostrini (ADRIPLAN coordinator from 01.11.2014 to 31.07.2015)

Managing Director of CORILA (Consortium for Managing Scientific Research on Venice Lagoon System) and CNR-ISMAR associate

E-mail: (campostrini[at]corila[dot]it)