Monday, 25 October 2021

Croatia's Central Adriatic Shows Mediterranean Fisheries Have Chance of Recovery

ZAGREB, 25 Oct 2021 - Shrimps and hakes are again present in the central Adriatic in large quantities, which shows that fish stocks can be restored if there is a will. 

The best known spawning ground for aquatic species in the Adriatic Sea is the Middle Adriatic Basin, also known as the Jabuka Pit, which stretches from the Croatian island of Žirje to the Italian coastal town of Ortona. It contains nearly a quarter of the total biomass of commercially important species in the northern and southern Adriatic.

For many years more than 30 percent of the catches by Croatian and Italian trawlers originated from the Jabuka Pit, but the fish stocks were eventually depleted by overfishing.

In 2015, a ban was imposed on trawling in the deepest part of the basin to protect the shrimp and hake. Since short-term suspensions never produce long-term results, a three-year ban was put in place next year.

"The Jabuka Pit is the best example of how quickly an ecosystem can recover. Positive effects can be seen in the open waters of the central Adriatic," Predrag Fred Matić, a Croatian member of the European Parliament, has said.

His amendment, in which he called for establishing additional areas of restricted fishing in the Mediterranean, was included in a report recently adopted by the European Parliament.

Igor Isajlović of the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries in Split has told Hina that fishing should be reduced despite the fact that the hake biomass is increasing in the Adriatic.

"It would be ideal if it was reduced by more than half, and that's what we should be striving for in the future," Isajlović said.

The shrimp was in a critical state for a long time, but a significant recovery has been observed just after a few years of conservation, he noted.

After the establishment of the restricted zone, fishermen too have noticed an increase in marine resources, and although they were skeptical or even against such zones before, now they have become their advocates.

Estimates show that nearly all commercially important marine species are being overfished. Researchers have called for a permanent ban on trawling, claiming that over 90 percent of the resources in the Adriatic Sea have been depleted and that it has done huge damage to the entire ecosystem. That's why a multi-annual plan on trawl fisheries management has been adopted, and the Jabuka Pit was declared a protected fishing area six years ago. It is one of the largest such areas in the Mediterranean.

"Overfishing is clearly a problem, but people need to make a living," Isajlović said. "Fishermen should become guardians of the sea and its resources, and they should be exploited only to the extent to which they can recover."

The EU has recognized the need to establish as many protected areas as possible in accordance with the Green Deal and the recently adopted EU strategy on biodiversity until 2030, under which 30 percent of all European seas must be protected.

Isajlović said that a wide range of measures has already been put in place. "Almost every year trawling is banned in the open waters of the central and northern Adriatic for a month because of the appearance of a large number of young hakes and shrimps. Wherever large quantities of juvenile fish appear, a fishing ban is imposed."

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Croatian Fishing Industry Hurt By Competition, EU Rules

November 27, 2018 — The Croatian fishing industry is trying to stay afloat amidst tightening regulations, a tough global market and more European Union-mandated restrictions in the works.

It would also help if Croats ate more fish, according to Robert Momić, Chairman of the Istrian Fishing Guild, who spoke with Glas Istre.

“Fishing has for centuries been the bedrock of life in coastal settlements in Istria,” Momić said. “It’s a part of their identity, something which draws excellence and recognition to the peninsula in the Adriatic and the Mediterranean [Seas].”

Despite this deep history, Croats themselves consume a comparatively small quantity of fish: about seven kilograms per capita annually, whereas other countries such as Portugal eat as much as 22 kilos.

Given the low demand at home, a majority of fish caught in Croatia’s chunk of the Adriatic packed into ice and exported — about 80 to 90 percent, according to Momić, most of it bound for Italy.

Fishing vessels are also held back by EU rules which Momić characterizes as short-sighted and lacking insight into the specific nature of local fisheries.

“It seems to me that the Union does not take differences into consideration, that it starts from global interests,” Momić said.

The EU’s Common Fisheries Policy sets quotas for member states limiting overfishing of what’s considered a “common resource.” The practice often irks both sides of a broad ecological and economic spectrum.

Regulations often draw the ire of local fishermen, who claim a one-size-fits-all approach cannot work in micro-locations with varying conditions and climates. Eco-conscious groups conversely often decry the rules as too-lenient, placating to big business groups to the detriment of dwindling fish stocks.

The European Parliament, for example, recently proposed lowering the maximum quota on blue fish from 60,000 to 40,000 tons, according to Morić, a reduction that’d make the maths on profitable fishing even tougher.

Croatia’s fishermen are already hamstrung by seasonal restrictions which cover about 80 percent of the Adriatic and take place in January, February and May. Lower quotas will only add to the pain, he added.

“Imagine 30 percent less work and fewer workers in industries that have already been minimized,” he said. “I don’t know the reason for this drastic cut which would bring us to our knees.”

Fishing of all kinds — from seines which dangle down from the surface to trawlers which scrape along the seabed — are met with illogical constrictions, according to Momić.

Trawlers, for example, cannot be dropped within three miles of the coast, giving an advantage to Italian fishermen who have a much larger, neater chunk of coast with fewer islands. Too often, Croatian fishing boats find themselves anchored ashore while their Italian counterparts bring up full nets.

The Adriatic Sea takes up only a small portion of the overall area of all Mediterranean waters but is generous sea in terms of actual catch, with up to one-fifth of the Mediterranean’s fish production coming from the Adriatic. Of that fifth, 40 percent comes from the Northern Adriatic.

Economics be damned, the fisherman’s life itself has become inextricably enmeshed into the Istrain identity and way of life. The northern Adriatic has a unique fishing culture recognizable by its its complexity, Momić added.

“There’s a tendency to forget and we cannot let this happen,” Momić said. “It would be detrimental to our identity, but also the general economy.”

For more on fishing in Croatia, check out our dedicated page.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Traditional Croatian Fishing Declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage

Traditional Croatian fishing was declared an intangible cultural heritage by a decision of the commission to determine the status of cultural property of the Ministry of Culture, which convened on Tuesday in Zagreb.

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