Albanian Center for Marine Research
Albania was a critical junction in the ancient world. Lying at the entrance to the Adriatic Sea, the area that is today Albania was a mixing pot of cultures and transportation networks. The region's underwater heritage has been inadvertently preserved by Albania’s former communist government, who outlawed diving completely. Beginning in 2007, RPM Nautical Foundation (RPMNF) partnered with Auron Tare (Member of Parliament) and Dr. Adrian Anastasi (Albanian Institute of Archaeology) to survey the coastline down to 100m depth. This collaborative project resulted in the founding of the Albanian Center for Marine Research (ACMR) in 2010 by Tare, RPMNF founder George Robb, and esteemed Albanian archaeologist Dr. Neritan Ceka. Over the course of the Center's short life, it has established itself as the primary marine research organization in Albania through its collaborative research programs with numerous international organizations.
The Albanian Center for Marine Research is a leader in nautical archaeology, coastal ecology, and marine geology in the Balkans, partnering with the other research institutions in the Adriatic. Our laboratory is the nearly 500 km of dynamic and stunning Albanian coastline situated between Montenegro and Greece. We bring together a broad scope of marine science disciplines to document our ecosystems and conduct research throughout the region. Our unique approach to multidisciplinary marine science ensures a comprehensive analysis for scientists and integrative solutions for coastal managers. Collaboration with international partner organizations has allowed our archaeological discoveries to attract worldwide recognition and interest due to the historical value of such truths coming to light.
Threats to Albania’s underwater cultural heritage are clear following several years of monitoring initiated by the ACMR and RPM Nautical Foundation. Increases in boat traffic, drag net fishing, and diving have shown a marked increase in looting of underwater archaeological sites over the last seven years. In particular, the last two years have seen an exponential rise in boat traffic and unlicensed SCUBA diving. The ACMR initiated a research program in 2011 that monitors fishermen’s archaeological finds. It has acted as an early warning system for identifying the underwater archaeology of certain regions and for the damage of sites by drag net fishing. Fishermen are actively losing nets through snagging on archaeological sites, damaging both cultural heritage and their livelihood. A mutually beneficial solution is emerging in the form of marine sanctuaries, similar to those in the United States. At Ksamil in southern Albania, a national underwater museum has been established, protecting five Cold War-era gunboats and important ecological systems. The Center’s Executive Director Auron Tare is in an excellent position to implement protection of submerged cultural heritage as a Member of Parliament in charge of the coastline.
The Albanian Center for Marine Research operates research and education programs, including surveys of the coastline and Lake Butrint. The AMCR is interested in working together on scientific collaborations with institutes within the Balkan region, as well as internationally. The Center follows the strictest professional and ethical guidelines in the course of its research and demands the same of its collaborators.