Bokakotorska Bay is one of the most vulnerable zones of the Montenegrin marine area. Its coastal and marine area is affected by strong human pressure. A pilot project was implemented in this area to design and test a methodology for marine vulnerability assessment, based on the Ecosystem Approach (EcAp), to be potentially used within an MSP process. The proposed methodology enabled to spatialize pressure and state EcAp indicators and calculate value and impact indexes; these were combined to assess vulnerability of the marine area. Finally, the vulnerability assessment enabled identifying most fragile and valuable areas of the Bokakotorska Bay that need to be preserved from future degradation, and therefore where future activities need to be planned carefully.
Questions this practice may help answer
- How can the UNEP-MAP Ecosystem Approach (EcAp) be applied to assess vulnerability of the marine space?
- How can EcAp indicators be used within MSP?
Bokakotorska Bay is one of the most vulnerable zones of the Montenegrin marine area. It is affected by strong anthropic influence due to intensive tourism development, related urbanization of the narrow coastal zone, industrial development (ship-building), occurrence of a number of maritime activities and considerable growth of nautical tourism and cruising in recent time. Such pressures have determined a significant number of pollution hot spots in this relatively small area, highlighting the strong need for careful planning of coastal and maritime activities.
A land-use plan for the entire coastal area of Montenegro has been developed taking into account the results of vulnerability assessment that enabled identifying fragile natural areas where development should be limited or even restricted. A similar approach is needed for the marine area as well. A pilot project was therefore undertaken in the Bokakotorska Bay to test the application of vulnerability assessment to the marine area as well, based on the UNEP/MAP Ecosystem Approach (EcAp), as described in the “Method” session.
Aspects / Objectives
The project mainly aimed at designing and testing a methodology for marine vulnerability assessment, based on EcAp, to be potentially used within an MSP process. Testing enabled also identifying shortcomings, obstacles, data needs and gaps of the proposed methodology, as well as the existing capacities for future plan development. The tested approach will be considered in the development of the future land-use plan of Montenegro that will be prepared for both terrestrial and marine areas, thus requiring compatibility and coherence of methodologies applied on land and at sea.
The marine vulnerability assessment methodology tested in the Bokakotorska Bay is based on the UNEP/MAP EcAp, and therefore refers to the EcAp Ecological Objectives (EOs) and makes uses of related EcAp indicators. EOs and indicators represent the core of the UNEP/MAP’s Integrated Monitoring and Assessment Programme (UNEP(DEPI)/MED WG.420/4) and are aimed at supporting the achievement of the Good Environmental Status (GES) in the Mediterranean Sea. The EcAp indicators are in line with the descriptors and indicators of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008/56/EC). The project implemented in Bokakotorska Bay also follows the requirements of the Barcelona Convention Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management in the Mediterranean (the so called ICZM Protocol), the National Strategy for ICZM of Montenegro, and the follow-up activities of the Coastal Area Management Programme (CAMP) implemented in same country.
The vulnerability assessment included three main steps:
- Identification and mapping of data related to EcAp indicators, including indicators of environmental state of the marine and coastal area (biodiversity and landscape features, including for example habitat distributional range, population abundance of selected species and alike) and indicators of existing pressures (mainly physical and chemical characteristics of the marine environment resulting from the existing human activities, including for example eutrophication, contamination, physical disturbance of the coastline, etc.).
- Attribution of values to the current state (i.e. value index) and pressures to the marine areas (i.e. impact index). The value index reflects the level of the existing quality of the environment and it is primarily based on information on the environmental state of the marine area. By using different criteria (such as conservation status, rareness, endemism, etc.) the value is attributed to different components of the environment for each spatial unit of the studied area on scale of 1 to 5. The impact index reflects the intensity of the impact on the marine environment and is defined based on criteria related to exposure to and sensitivity of the marine environment to the pressures coming from the existing human activities. For the impact index, each spatial unit has been assessed on the scale of 1 to 10.
- Assessment of the vulnerability as potential magnitude of negative impacts (degree, extent and significance) of future activities which depends on the current state of the marine environment (value index), current intensity of pressures (impact index), characteristics of the future activities and resilience of the marine environment to the future activities (i.e. its capacity to absorb additional pressures). By using the attributed value for the value index (1-5) and impact index (1-10), based on the expert opinion on resilience of the marine environment to each individual future activity, vulnerability value was assigned on scale of 1-10 to each spatial unit.
Main Outputs / Results
The vulnerability assessment enabled identifying most fragile and valuable areas of the Bokakotorska Bay that need to be preserved from future degradation, and therefore where future activities need to be planned carefully.
Results of the vulnerability assessment pointed out the areas where proper management of maritime activities is needed, in terms of relocation of specific activities and/or need to seek alternative solutions for marine uses. The results of the vulnerability assessment can also underpin the identification of technological improvements or other measures needed to reduce impacts of specific activities on the marine environment.
The main output of the pilot project is an EcAp based methodology for vulnerability assessment of the marine area, to be used as one of the knowledge basis of the MSP process. Although tailor-made and tested for the Bokakotorska Bay, the developed methodology can be adapted for use in other areas as well, and potentially expanded to the whole Montenegro marine area (depending on data availability).
Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism
IV proleterske brigade 19, 81000 Podgorica, Montenegro
Tel.: +382 20 446225
UN Environment / Mediterranean Action Plan
Priority Actions Programme Regional Activity Centre (PAP/RAC)
Kraj Sv. Ivana 11, HR-21000 Split, Croatia
Tel.: +385 21 340476
Vulnerability assessment consultant
phone: +386 31 306804
Priority Actions Programme Regional Activity Centre (PAP/RAC)
Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism (MSDT)
Costs / Funding Source
Total fund available for the pilot project was 67,000 Euros, provided by the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism of Montenegro.