NOSTRA - Network of Straits

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Straits are narrow arms of the sea bordered by land which combine various geographic characteristics:

- they are traffic crossroads, between the two banks and through them
- they are both maritime and terrestrian areas.

Besides they concentrate several issues that are tightly interrelated and have to be tackled altogether: transport, tourism, economic development, but also preservation of biodiversity, maritime safety…
All the straits of Europe have those issues in common and try to face them with their own tools and experiments. For instance, three straits have implemented binational entities; others have signed conventions or agreements in order to give a formal framework to their cooperation.
All partners have the same concern of both issues: advocating the economic development of the area but with respect for the environment and the biodiversity.


The NOSTRA Project comes from the European Straits Initiative signed in November 2010 by a group of local authorities bordering the straits of Europe. This initiative aims at:

- Gaining recognition of the particular characteristics of European Straits within European policies and integrating these within European programmes and European Structural Funds for 2014-2020;
- Working for the emergence of cooperation projects, either through INTERREG programmes or other European programmes, developing mutual cooperation and implementing common actions and projects, in order to promote economic development, coastal protection, transportation and logistics, intercultural working and tourism activities. The NOSTRA project is part of this second axis.

Main objective

NOSTRA follows the overall objective of preservation of biodiversity and natural heritage. From exchanges of experiences and best practices, the project aims at studying the necessary governance tools to ensure a sustainable development of straits and to develop their functions as gateways to hinterlands and to external territories around the issues of economic development, transport, tourism and biodiversity.
By searching ways to improve the governance between the two banks of a strait, the aim is to enable the authorities to enhance effective public policies, at the local, national and European levels, that will both allow economic development of the area and preserve the biodiversity.

Activities planned

Noting that the straits of Europe share common issues (transport, economic development, marine safety ...) that have an impact on the natural heritage of the straits, the NOSTRA partners have decided to study cross-border governance tools for environmentally friendly economic development.

For this, the project will proceed in 3 phases:

2012 - "See and Learn": study visits to the straits experimenting binational governance tools:

- June 2012 – Strait of Kvarken: presentation of the Council of Kvarken launched in 1972, bringing together the communities along both sides of the strait. A technical study visit will be organised as part of the project to analyse and understand in detail the functioning of the cross-border governance tool.

- October 2012 - Strait of Bonifacio: presentation of the European grouping of territorial cooperation being established on the strait, called the International Marine Park of the Strait of Bonifacio, under Italian status.

2013 - "Analyse and study": the four areas identified as having an impact on the natural heritage of the straits will be analysed in detail in workshops:

- In Kent: analysis of seascapes as an example of integrated management of the straits of Europe

- On the strait of Otranto: tourism

- On the strait of Fehmarn Belt: transport and maritime safety

- On the Gulf of Finland: economic development

2014 - "Think and act": the last year will focus on interdisciplinary seminars to link the various issues addressed and define recommendations for each strait in terms of cross-border governance.

- On the Strait of Messina: the link between coast and hinterland

- In Corsica: capitalisation of INTERREG cross-border projects already developed across a strait

- Romania: finalisation of recommendations and action plans.

Regional meetings will also involve local stakeholders: twice a year, each partner will organise meetings with local stakeholders of its territory in order both to give them a feedback on the project but also to collect their needs, expectations and best practices.

Communication and dissemination actions are also planned to widely disseminate the results and products of this project.

Activities will take place between January 2012 and December 2014.


This project is funded by the EU’s European Regional Development Fund through the INTERREG IVC programme. The overall budget reaches 2,36 M€ with a FEDER co-funding of 1,79M €.


The partnership is composed of local authorities and bi-national bodies which border 8 straits of Europe as well as a research institute on the Danube delta which has a great experience in cross-border governance of sensitive natural areas.

The NOSTRA project gathers 16 partners:

- Dover Strait: Pas-de-Calais County Council (France) and Kent County Council (United Kingdom)
- Strait of Fehmarn Belt: Region de Zealand (Denmark) and County of Ostholstein (Germany)
- Gulf of Finland: Usimaa Regional Council (Finland) and Harju County Government (Estonia)
- Strait of Kvarken: Kvarken Council (Sweden-Finland)
- Strait of Bonifacio: Province of Sassari (Italy), Corsican Environment Office (France) and National Park of Maddalena Arcipelago (Italy)
- Strait of Otranto: Province of Lecce (Italy), Vlora Regional Council (Albania)
- Strait of Messina: Province of Messina (Italy) and Province of Reggio Calabria (Italy)
- Strait of Sicily: Province of Trapani (Italy)
- Danube Delta National Institute for Research and Development– Tulcea (Romania)


Pas-de-Calais County Council (Lead partner) :
Pauline Gessant :
+33 321 219 205


The NOSTRA project ended 31.12.2014

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