ALBANIA: Vast quantities of trash mar coastline
Albania, a country that features some of the most beautiful beaches in the region, remains hindered by extensive pollution along its coastlines and waterways.
The area of the "Kepi i Rodonit" (Cape of Rodoni) used to be one of the pearls of Albania, but nowadays it's almost covered by rubbish washed ashore, making both the water and the earth itself toxic and threatening to both humans and wildlife.
Tourists no longer visit Cape of Rodoni beaches and few fishermen exercise their craft in the nearby waters. Instead, the once picturesque sea front is now frequented by scrap collectors who make their livelihood out of selling the plastic objects found along the shoreline.
"Because of the pollution we need to get away from the Ishem River delta, as it carries rubbish from Lana River and other rivers," said local fisherman Pellumb Doda.
"Now we need to go deeper into the sea in order to fish. This can be dangerous for us and the catch is tiny. We demand that the government does something about this pollution. This place used to be a tourist attraction -- people were coming here from Durres, Tirana and other cities, but because of the pollution no one is visiting this place now," he added.
The pollution comes mainly from the Albanian capital Tirana and surrounding towns that use rivers as a vessel to dispose their rubbish and sewage waters. Over 1.5 million people live near the rivers, which discharge in Cape of Rodoni Albania's Deputy Minister for the Environment Taulant Bino said the government is working towards some emergency measures to deal with the rubbish.
"The Prime Minister gave the order for the creation of a task force composed by several inline ministries in order to undertake some emergency actions and a cleanup action in the along the whole coastal area of Albania. And this is an emergency action, but important because, it is not only a cleanup action, but it is also an education action," he said.
In 2006, Bino told Reuters the government was drafting a similar strategy.
Albania was Europe's poorest and most isolated country under communism, but by closing the country to the outside world, vast swaths of virgin Mediterranean coastline were preserved from unbridled development.
In the ensuing years of the 1990s democracy and capitalism brought their own problems from the consumer and construction explosion which fuelled the country's growth.