Sunday, 21 February 2021

Only Six Percent of Croatian Adriatic Sea is Protected - Not Enough

February the 21st, 2021 - The Croatian Adriatic sea is the country's stunning natural wealth which attracts endless amounts of tourists from across the world each and ever year. Well, at least it did before the coronavirus pandemic struck. However, despite the fact that the Adriatic looks crystal clear and beautiful, only a mere six percent of it is actually protected. This is far from enough.

As Vecernji list/Jolanda Rak Sajn writes, the main goal of the InnovaMare project is to create a common maritime surveillance system which will work to further protect not only the Croatian Adriatic sea but that of the Italian side, too.

''Sustainability is a current topic at both European Union and national levels, as well as a topic for the future. A system change and cooperation from all stakeholders through environmental innovation will reduce pollution, while cooperation between the public and private sectors is key,'' said the Secretary General of the Union of Chambers of Commerce of the Veneto region Roberto Crosta at a round table of the Union (Unioncamere del Veneto), and the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) within the InnovaMare project.

The project is designed to develop and establish a model of innovation for the ecosystem in the field of underwater robotics and sensors for the control and monitoring of pollution in the Croatian Adriatic sea and the Italian Adriatic sea.

The vulnerability of marine habitats and the role of the blue economy is also recognised in numerous EU policies. Vedran Nikolic from the EC's Environment Directorate and Eleni Hatziyanni from the EC Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries warned that marine habitats are very complex and fragile ecosystems, vulnerable to pollution, overfishing and other human activities that hinder their sustainability. Nikolic explained that 81 percent of habitats and 63 percent of species in European habitats are no longer in good condition, and that situation is even worse in marine habitats, especially in the Mediterranean.

''This clearly shows that we're in a crisis of biodiversity, ie in a climate crisis that requires urgent action. This has been being and will continue to be addressed by the EU Biodiversity Strategy until 2030, which is one of the pillars of the European Green Deal. The main goals are the protection of 30 percent of the sea and the strict protection of at least a third of marine habitats. Currently, only 6 percent of the Adriatic sea, which fall primarily on the Croatian side, are protected, but this percentage now needs to grow by at least five times in order to achieve the set goals.

We aren't interested in the word protection, which is a dead letter on paper, but in actual practice, and for that we will need innovation and new technologies. We have ambitious plans for their realisation and we will need the cooperation of all parties involved,'' said Nikolic. Hatziyanni added that the development of new technologies could bring Croatia an increase in the share of the blue economy in the amount of 10 percent to 18 percent.

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Saturday, 19 December 2020

Foreign Ministers of Croatia, Italy and Slovenia Adopt Joint Statement

ZAGREB, Dec 19, 2020 - The foreign ministers of Croatia, Italy and Slovenia adopted a joint statement in Trieste on Saturday saying that they shared the vision of the Adriatic Sea as a bridge connecting all the nations in this region and as a source of prosperity for all. 

The meeting was held following the announcements by Italy and Croatia that they would declare their respective exclusive economic zones in the Adriatic.

The Adriatic Sea, as a half-closed sea with intensive maritime traffic and a vulnerable ecosystem, needs an integrated approach to environmental protection, risk prevention and sustainable development, says the joint statement signed by Foreign Ministers Gordan Grlic Radman of Croatia, Luigi Di Maio of Italy and Anze Logar of Slovenia.

The ministers agreed to continue talks on further cooperation in the trilateral format in key areas, including economic development, connectivity, the blue economy and comprehensive protection of the sea. For that purpose, the three countries will establish a mechanism to advance their cooperation at political and expert levels.

Italy and Croatia exchanged information on the progress of the initiatives to declare their respective exclusive economic zones, reiterating that they were taking this step fully in line with the principles of international law, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and EU law. In addition, the ministers agreed to hold the next trilateral meeting in the first quarter of next year.

Grlic Radman expressed satisfaction with "a very useful exchange of views on the progress of cooperation," adding that today's meeting mainly focused on operational modalities and priority areas to advance trilateral cooperation in the Adriatic Sea.

"During the meeting we spoke favourably of our relations and I think this meeting is a good start for cooperation in different areas. All three countries remain committed to promoting cooperation in a true European spirit in order to protect the Adriatic Sea, bring our coastal nations closer together  and transform the area of our co-existence together," Grlic Radman said at the end of the meeting.

He said that Croatia would declare its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in January as an upgrade to the existing Ecological and Fisheries Protection Zone (EFPZ). He said that Croatia would exercise this right under international law and with the agreement of Italy and Slovenia. 

The State Secretary at the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Andreja Metelko Zgombic, noted that the meeting was held in a friendly atmosphere.

 She said that the boundaries of the Croatian EEZ would overlap with those of the existing EFPZ until an agreement was reached with Italy and Montenegro on the final delimitation of the zones.

As for Slovenia, Metelko Zgombic said there was no reason for concern because "even those voices in Slovenia that support the results of border arbitration can rest assured because the arbitration ruling itself, which Croatia, unlike Slovenia, does not accept, clearly says that exclusive economic zones can be declared in the Adriatic or the Mediterranean in the future and that that will not infringe Slovenia's rights."

She said that the rights of third countries would remain protected because exclusive economic zones guarantee freedom of navigation.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Adriatic Sea Flourishes In 2020 As Waters Replenish

October 14, 2020 – Whales, dolphins and shrimp have returned to Croatian waters in greater numbers than in living memory as the Adriatic sea flourishes in 2020's quieter season

For obvious reasons, it's been an extraordinary year for everyone. Much of the news to report hasn't been the happiest. But, even in times of crisis, it's still possible to find reasons to optimistic and thankful.

In 2020, more tourists than in previous seasons have stayed away from Croatia's shoreline. However, their absence has been filled, in part, by a remarkable return of sea life. The Adriatic sea flourishes in 2020 with mammals, fish and crustaceans.

Dolphins are a wonderful sight to catch around the Croatian coast at any time, but not a great surprise – dolphins enjoy the fish-filled, crystal clear Adriatic as much as we all do. But the large whales spotted in Croatian waters this summer are quite uncommon.

Screenshot (40).pngDolphins filmed swimming near Ugljan island earlier this year as the Adriatic sea flourishes in 2020. You can find a link to this dolphin video above © Youtube screenshot

Researchers from the Blue World Institute are now sure that two separate whales have inhabited the Velebit Channel between August and October this year with at least one, if not both, still remaining in the area.

Of course, the wholly negative way of explaining their appearance would be to blame the uncommon occurrences on global warming. But, things may not be so clear cut. Less sailing, fewer pollutants and much fewer cruise ships in the Adriatic this year may well have made the area more inviting for the large mammals.

Key to a whale's desired place of dwelling is the food available to them. While the strict lockdown witnessed early this year struck a heavy blow on Croatia's fish markets and, in turn, the country's fishing industry, the fall in prices, the lack of demand and the reduction in fishing allowed the Adriatic to replenish.

Nadine Doerlé.jpgCrustaceans have also benefitted from a fallow year. Split fisherman Antonio Šunjić told Slobodna Dalmacija he sees an explosion in Croatia waters of shrimp numbers as the Adriatic sea flourishes in 2020 © Nadine Doerlé

In an interview with Tanja Šimundić Bendić in Slobodna Dalmacija on 10th October 2020, Antonio Šunjić, the first man of the fishermen's guild of Split and Split-Dalmatia County gave first-hand witness. He attested to an increase in tuna number (a favourite of the whales) this year. He also sees an explosion in shrimp population as the Adriatic sea flourishes in 2020.

Those who have long grown from and fed off the land know well how to look after their most precious commodity – farmers leave some fields fallow during a whole season, sowing no seeds for a year so that the ground may rest and fertility return. The fallow period the Adriatic has experienced in 2020 may deliver much greater long-term wealth than the temporary inconveniences caused by this extraordinary season.

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Sunday, 13 September 2020

Croatian Scientists Issue Drastic Warning Regarding the Future of Noble Pen Shell

September 13, 2020 - Croatian scientists got together at a conference aimed at expanding the Natura 2000 network. They sent out a stern warning regarding the future of the noble pen shell in the Mediterranean. 

Noble pen shell (called periska in Croatian, Pinna Nobilis, lat) is a large species of Mediterranean clam, the biggest of its kind in the Mediterranean traditionally grows to around a half a meter, but it's been known to grow as high as 120 centimeters. It's buried in the sandy sea-bottom, up to one-third of its length, and could, in the past, be frequently found in the Croatian Mediterranean. Recently, its population has been steeply declining, and the scientists warn that, unless we come up and see through the measures needed to save the living specimens, we might lose the species forever - before the end of this year! The rapid mass extinction of the noble pen shell has gotten much faster in the past few months. We have weeks to do what it would take to save it, Eko Kvarner association, the organizer of the conference, reported on Sunday. We still don't fully understand the reasons behind such rapid decline of their population in the Mediterranean, nor the Adriatic sea. 

The scientists will send an appeal to the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister and the President of the Croatian Parliament, hoping that they'll be willing to help engage the resources available to them to help quarantine the living specimens of the shell, while at the same time attempting to grow the next generation to repopulate our coastline. Unless enough resources are dedicated to the problem, probably sometime next year, the only thing left to do will be to build a monument to another lost species, this time to the one which held an iconic status in Croatia. 

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Tuesday, 8 September 2020

VIDEO: Huge Whale Visits Croatia - This Summer's Second Sizeable Visitor

Tuesday, 8 September 2020 – Beyonce and Jay Z might be the biggest stars to visit Croatia this summer, but they're certainly not the biggest in size. In this stunning video, a huge whale visits Croatia

Croatia is never short of celebrity guests. This summer alone, the country's Adriatic shores and islands have been visited by Owen Wilson, Beyonce and Jay Z, and Lepa Brena and Lily Allen. But, such stars are dwarfed in comparison to the latest visitor.

A huge whale visits Croatia this week and its movements have been captured spectacularly by drone footage. In the video from the Blue World Institute, you can see the epic creature side-by-side with a fishing vessel. The boat is not small, yet it looks tiny next to this beast.


Video: A huge whale visits Croatia © Blue World Institute

Shots of this huge whale visits Croatia were taken by drone above the Velebit Channel in Dalmatia. It is not the first visitor of its kind this year. Earlier in the summer, the same Blue World Institute managed to grab some footage of a fin whale in the Adriatic (pictured below). Only last time, they didn't have their drone.

image.jpg
© Blue World Institute

The video was taken by the researchers on Saturday 5 September at the entrance to Novsko ždrilo. They followed the whale for about two hours, up to the Maslenica bridge where he turned back into the Velebit Channel and swam in the direction of Vinjerac.

The researchers took the video of this huge whale visits Croatia to analyze the size and health of the mammal. The footage allowed the researchers to determine that this was not the same animal they filmed in the same area in mid-August. When the whale swam close to their boat, researchers managed to obtain a small skin sample in order to perform a biopsy. They monitored the whale's progress and saw it again on the morning of Sunday 6 September, north of Novsko ždrilo.

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Monday, 10 February 2020

Rijeka Environmental Group Installs Sea 'Trash Can' At Croatian Port

The first Seabin device, a floating “trash can” and seawater filter, was installed on Friday in the passenger port of Rijeka.

Rijeka Based Initiative S.E.A. Donated Seabin Device

The Rijeka-based Initiative S.E.A. (Save, Embrace, Achieve) donated the Seabin device to the Port Authority of Rijeka to raise awareness about the need to protect and conserve the marine environment. The initiative also introduces sustainable solutions for the use and management of marine life as one of its most valuable resources.

Seabin is a floating trash can which constantly filters seawater, collecting plastics, microplastics, detergents, oils and other materials from the surface, preventing them from drifting off to the open sea and harming marine flora and fauna, according to Morski HR on February 10, 2020.

“The initiative was founded to primarily to raise awareness about the need to change environmental attitudes, especially in our oceans, and to foster further debate on the ‘green transition’ which is beginning to take hold in response to the global environmental crisis. The focus of the initiative is to dispose of plastics and micro plastics. It also promotes implementing the most advanced green methods, practices and technologies for better environmental management and utilization of its resources,” they explained.

Seabin Acts as Floating ‘Trash Can’ in Marinas, Yacht Clubs, Ports

According to their website, the Seabin V5 unit is a ‘trash skimmer’ designed to be installed in water at marinas, yacht clubs, ports and any body of water with a calm environment and available suitable services.

The unit acts as a floating trash can which skims the water surface by pumping water into the device. The Seabin V5 can intercept floating debris, macro and micro plastics and microfibers with an additional filter. By acting as a trash skimmer, the Seabin V5 is also able to clean the water from contaminated organic material including leaves and seaweed.

The Seabin V5 can be equipped with oil absorbent pads that absorb petroleum-based surface oils and detergent which is predominant in most marinas worldwide.

Surface Water Passes Through Catch Bag At 25,000 Liters Per Hour

Water is sucked in from the surface where it passes through a catch bag inside Seabin. The device is equipped with submersible water pump capable of displacing 25,000 liters per hour and can be plugged directly into either a 110V or 220V outlet. The water is then pumped back into the marina leaving litter and debris trapped in the catch bag.

The Seabin V5 can catch an estimated 3.9 kilograms of floating debris per day or 1.4 tons per year (depending on weather and debris volumes) including micro plastics as small as 2 millimeters.

Follow our Lifestyle page for more information on environmental initiatives in Croatia. More information about the Seabin V5 can be found on their website and Facebook page.

Saturday, 14 December 2019

SEA-Stainability: Tribunj Educates Children on Waste in Adriatic Sea

Waste ending up in the world's seas and oceans continues to be a burning problem, and while the European Union does its best to pass laws to attempt to curb things, at least in part, this issue still reigns the highest of all. The gorgeous Croatian Adriatic sea, a top draw for tourists, is as threatened as any other.

The crystal clear, sparkling Adriatic sea is one of this country's greatest assets which lures countless visitors from across the world each year, but what would Croatia do if it becomes ruined by waste, particularly by harmful plastic waste that not only takes an incredibly long time to break down, but also poisons marine life, and as such, an enormous part of the typical coastal Croatian diet?

As Morski writes on the 13th of December, 2019, the members of LAGUR FLAG Galeb from the coastal town of Tribunj, together with the students of the Hospitality and Tourism School of Šibenik, were educated on sustainable development and the problems caused by waste finding its way to the sea, with the help of the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries and RZ Adria Tribunj.

''At the beginning, we were learning about the SEA-Stainability project and about sustainable development, and from the scientists, Pero Tutman and Dubravka Bojanić Varežić from the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries (IZOR) we learned about the problem of waste in the sea and its impact on all living organisms,'' the organisers say.

The staff of RZ Adria Tribunj, LAGUR/FLAG GALEB and the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries introduced the children to the Tribunj fishing port and the way the infrastructure for collecting waste from the sea functions.

As part of the educational programme, the children learned how to monitor waste coming from the sea at Bristak beach, and together they cleaned up an impressive 16.6 kilograms of waste from the beach, analysed the waste and finally conducted an interactive knowledge quiz on the topic.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more. If you're interested in both official and unofficial ways Croatia works to keep the Adriatic sea clean, give Total Eco Croatia a follow.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Croatia: Environmental Organization Sea Shepherd Opens Office

Sea Shepherd, a world environmental organization, is establishing an office in Zagreb, Croatia. It was founded in 1977 by Captain Paul Watson to fight for the protection of the sea and its inhabitants. Since then, Sea Shepherd has become the most active and successful organization dealing with the protection of the ocean and marine fauna.

The Sea Shepherd fleet consists of 13 ships with crews of volunteers from all over the world, and has the largest private fleet in the world, which is on call day and night. Sea Shepherd doesn’t engage in protest rather they focus on responding and use tactics and direct actions to investigate, document and prevent illegal activities which cause damage to the world’s oceans.

croatia_sea_shepard_02.jpg

Stopping Whale Hunts

Over the past 40 years, due to their actions, massive underwater life hunts have been on the decline worldwide. Sea Shepherd has worked against the seal massacre in Canada, the whale massacre on the Faroe Islands, illegal fishing in the Mediterranean, dolphin killing in Japan, and for the protection of the Vaquita porpoise in the Gulf of Mexico, among many other actions. For ten years, they have been actively combating commercial whaling of the Japanese fleet in the Pacific Ocean, despite attempts by that fleet to disguise the hunt for research purposes. This is the action they are most well-known for.

Each year, the Japanese fleet seek to slaughter a minimum of 1,000 whales to make their catch commercially viable. Thanks to Sea Shepherd’s on-site responses, they have been prevented from hunting and have been virtually forced to give up. About 5,000 whales have been rescued and set free. Sea Shepherd continues to operate due to the success of their campaigns and the support of volunteers and donors. For more information on Sea Shepherd’s global work, visit their website here.

croatia_sea_shepard_03.jpg

First Event in Croatia

Sea Shepherd organizers will be holding their first public event in Croatia on November 28, 2019. They will be discussing their organization at the Oris kuća arhitekture (Oris House of Architecture) in Zagreb. They will also reveal how they are fighting to preserve the ocean, the current state of the Adriatic Sea and how to take action to promote the survival of underwater life.

This is an opportunity to obtain information, ask questions, and find out how we can save the sea and support the world's most active marine conservation organization.

DATE: 11/28/2019
TIME: 19:00
PLACE: Oris kuća arhitekture (Kralja Držislava Street 3, 10 000 Zagreb)
GUESTS: Captain Alex Cornelissen CEO of Sea Shepherd Global and others

Other guest speakers include Andrea Morello CEO Sea Shepherd Italy, Robert Mach CEO Sea Shepherd Austria, Scientists at the Ruđer Bošković Institute and numerous guests from the world of science, sports and entertainment.

More information about the event can be found here.

A video of Sea Shepherd removing an illegal driftnet in the Mediterranean:

For more information on environmental issues in Croatia, follow our Lifestyle page.

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Life After a Brutal Jugo Wind: The Adriatic Sea Speaks

November 17, 2019 - A brutal jugo wind has been battering the Adriatic coast in recent days. With calm returning, some of the contents of the Adriatic have been left as souvenirs on the mainland.

I wouldn't describe myself as an environmentalist at all, but anyone with an ounce of common sense watching over the 'development' of the Adriatic coast can see that there is clearly something very wrong. 

Numbers, numbers, numbers - a record number of tourists a record number of overnight stays, apparently. And a record number (I would guess) of something that nobody is talking about officially, or putting an actual figure on. 

Environmental damage of, among other things, the main jewel that Croatia has to offer with its tourism - the pristine Adriatic Sea. 

jugo-adriatic-trash (3).jpg

(Photo credit Ivica Trojenovic / Peljesac i Politika - a beach near Orebic)

As we have reported these last few days, a brutal jugo wind has hit the Adriatic coast and islands, bringing spectacular scenes for us to enjoy in the comfort of our homes around the world. 

And leaving plenty of trash in its wake, all along the coast. 

I have never been one to sensationalise things, as it is a very longterm strategy, but it is clear that all is not well with Croatian tourism's relationship with its prized jewel. The lack of sensationalism is what led me to approach a respected marine biologist academic for her views on the state of the Adriatic, and I am grateful to Dr. Ana Bratos Cetinic from the Department of Aquaculture from the University of Dubrovnik for her very in-depth and detailed interview for TCN recently - Mass Tourism, Climate & Plastic: Marine Biologist on Cost to Adriatic. Of the many thought-provoking things Dr. Ana said in the interview, the answer to how many Mediterranean monk seals were in the Adriatic is the one that stayed with me:

The Mediterranean monk seal is now considered extinct in the Adriatic, but rare sporadic observations of the monk seal have been reported. Those specimens likely belong to the populations outside of the Adriatic, which they visit. Once, there was a relatively abundant Adriatic species which has given way to increasing human pressure and deterioration of their habitats which, actually, belong to nautical tourists these days.

And while the monk seals sadly have no voice and are increasingly invisible to the point of extinction, there is one thing in the Adriatic and other seas which is increasingly abundant and visible - trash. 

Quite how much trash has been deposited by cruise ships and sailboats, in addition to that washed up by tides from Albania is not known, but in the last few days, the jugo wind gave the Adriatic Sea a chance to give us a reminder. From a tourism point of view, the 'good' news is that it happened in November, giving the authorities plenty of time to clean up before the next season. The bad news is that unless serious action is taken, this will be a much more common occurrence. 

jugo-adriatic-trash (1).jpg

This week's jugo wind trash gifts are far from unique. The above image was widely circulated in the Croatian media this week, but a little research shows it is from earlier this year. Which makes it no less shocking. 

Numbers, numbers, numbers. The Kings of Accidental Tourism are busy celebrating alleged record numbers. Would they or their relevant ministerial counterparts care to comment on the following:

1. While revenues generated FROM tourism will soon be published, I have yet to see any costs caused BY tourism - utilities, infrastructure, waste management - can we have some transparent information, please?

2. We hear great news about tourism expanding, less so about infrastructure built to cope with that increased demand. Can we have more transparency, including information on waste treatment and what we are pouring into the Adriatic?

3. Is there a plan to deal with the environmental effects of this huge increase in tourism? Can we see it if it exists?

4. Is there a study on the benefits of cruise ship tourism versus the environmental costs? Can we see it if it exists?

5. If the answer questions 3 and 4 above is no, why not? 

 

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Swimming Season Still not Over in Croatia in Early November!

Some people really do not want to check the calendar (or the website showing the sea temperatures), and consider every day to be swimming season!

When I was a kid growing up in Croatia, for my family (and many others) it was customary to go to the seaside for the May 1st holiday, and more often than not, the discussions revolved around whether it's going to be warm enough to take a swim in early May. But nobody ever, from what I can remember, talked about swimming in the sea for All Saints' Day.

These days, it seems like global warming and the increasingly rapid changes to the climate changed all of that, with people swimming in the Adriatic in November, and not even for a specific reason, but just because they enjoy it.

We posted a couple of days ago about the people in Split playing na male branke (a special local version of football) right by the sea, in their swimming apparel, but they were not in the sea, just close to it. That arguably makes it even worse, as it was quite windy at that point in Split.

Today, we bring you a photo from way up North, in Lovran, showcasing two gentlemen enjoying a nice, warm swim on November the 4th, some time in the early afternoon. The air temperature was somewhere around 16 °C, there wasn't much wind, and the sea temperature was around 19 °C, and as you can see in the photo, it was still quite wavy. The two entered the sea, took a brief swim, spoke to each other a bit while in there, taking their time, and then exited as if it was - August. Passers-by took some interest in them, as they were probably the only people in the Adriatic at that point without diving suits on.

And before you know it, the traditional New Year's Day swimming will happen all over Croatia, then Easter will come when the bravest people will probably venture out to say hello to the spring and summer by taking their first yearly swims... Before you know it, it will be swimming season all year long in Croatia, at least for some people!

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