General presentation of the strait
The Strait of Otranto (Albanian: Kanali i Otrantos; Italian: Canale d'Otranto) connects the Adriatic Sea with the Ionian Sea and separates Italy from Albania. Its width from Kepi I Gjuhes, Karaburun, Albania to Punta Palascìa, east of Salento is less than 72 kilometers (45 mi). The strait is named after the Italian city of Otranto. The straight of Otranto has a very strategic position and for centuries has been a key to control all traffic flow from Mediterranean to Adriatic seas.
Description of the strait
There is quite a lot of ship traffic flow which makes this strait a very sensitive area. The most important sites of the strait are the cities of Otranto, Castro, S. Maria of Leuca, Porto Badisco, Alimini Lakes, S. Cesarea Terme and Torre dell’Orso in Italy and Sazan Island and Bay of Vlora in Albania. The coasts of the Strait of Otranto are sometimes broad and sandy (whose waters at this latitude are characterized by rare spectacular colors and transparency), sometimes rocky, with cliffs dropping into the sea. Among the best known beaches are those of Torre dell’Orso, Santa Maria di Leuca, Otranto and, with regard to the rocky beaches, the most notable are Castro, Santa Cesarea Terme and Porto Badisco.
The tourism sector has experienced in recent years a steady growth trend. From 2006 to 2010 the number of tourists has increased by +54.3%. The sea of Otranto, among the cleanest in Italy, offers a wealth of fish. Fishing activity is widely practiced and there are many species of fish caught (mackerel, mullet, grouper, bream, snapper, sea bass, sea bream, mullet, redfish, octopus, squid, cuttlefish, sea urchins, etc.). The crops that have the greatest impact on the economy of Otranto are the olive trees, the rooted, wheat and vegetables. The olive trees provide oil, precious nectar that is exported all around the world. The local artisan production present in Otranto is rich. The products are manufactured using various materials, mainly natural. We recall the reed baskets, or the beautiful mosaics that often are inspired to mosaic floor of the Cathedral hydruntina site, or the colored terracotta bells luck. The port of Otranto is shipping and tourist and plays a key role for national and international movement of boats.
Cross-boundary cooperation in the strait
1) INTERREG III Italy-Albania Programme - Lead partner Province of Lecce - Project V.A.L.T. (Valorization of Art, Language and Tourism)
2) INTERREG III Italy-Albania Programme – Lead partner Province of Brindisi - Project AM.JO.WE.L.S.;
3) Programme NPPA INTERREG III CARD/PHARE - Lead partner Province of Ancona – Project M.A.R.I.N.A.S. - Modelling Adriatic Routes - Integrating Networks and Areas in the Adriatic Sea - Strategies for Integrated Tourism in the Adriatic.
Main environmental challenges of the strait
The EU has called several places on the Strait of Otranto "sites of Community interest" (SIC), for their environmental importance.
Due to very dense maritime traffic flowing in and out from the Mediterranean Sea to the Adriatic Sea, especially in the northern part where there are the biggest ports, this area is very sensitive to pollution caused by ships. For this reason is established an Adriatic Traffic Report System, to monitor all ships sailing in and out of the Otranto Strait. ”Adriatic Traffic "means a system for traffic control in the Adriatic Sea in which management is ensured jointly, each for part of their competence, by Italian and Albanian authorities.
It is planned to build a gas pipeline that will cross the Strait of Otranto to bring Azerbaijani gas in Italy, through Greece and Albania, with serious repercussions for the environment, tourism and fishing.
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