Albania is a Mediterranean country on the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe, bordered by Montenegro, Kosovo, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece. Its 476-kilometer coastline extends along the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. There are four small islands and one larger, Sazan. The Adriatic coastline, with its sandy shores, covers the area between Vlore and Shengjin. The Ionian coastline stretches from the Greek border to Vlore and is mostly rocky or steep, with a few pebbly or sandy beaches and deep water.

Albania is distinguished for its rich biological, ecosystem and landscape diversity, although reports indicate that the biodiversity loss rate is one of the highest in Europe due to infrastructure development, urbanization and tourism, pollution, deforestation, hunting, fishing, soil erosion, energy, and mining[1].

Sea turtles do not nest on Albanian shores, but loggerheads (Caretta caretta), greens (Chelonia mydas) and leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea) have been recorded here, as they migrate through the Adriatic and Ionian seas. Research has shown that they use certain areas to develop, feed and pass the winter. Main threats are marine habitat degradation, pollution, incidental capture in fishing activities and illegal fishing techniques such as dynamite use. There are a few reports of live turtles being kept captive for display or being killed for display of their carapace or embalmed body in some restaurants and hotels. By raising awareness and with the help of citizens, we aim to help eradicate these practices in the near future. Read turtle Jon-Tove’s release story for inspiration.

Since 2005, MEDASSET has been studying sea turtles in Albania, raising awareness, building local capacity and instigating new policies to protect the species. Our work has helped identify an important sea turtle habitat in Albania, and thanks to MEDASSET, Albania now has adopted an Action Plan for the protection of the species.