Tuesday, 15 February 2022

Novi Vinodolski to Showcase Maritime Heritage With New Museum of Fishery

February 15th, 2022 - Novi Vinodolski, a town in the Northern Adriatic, has two interesting projects in development. Both are related to the historical development of fishery and the preservation of maritime heritage and tradition

One is the Klenovica Fishing Centre, an interpretation centre dedicated to fishery as a traditional economic activity; the other is a project that will have tunera lookouts built in Povile village. Both projects are being funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and were approved through the tender of LAGUR Tunera, reports Novi list.

LAGUR Tunera is a Local Action Group, i.e. a partnership of public, civil and economic sectors in fishing, fish processing and aquaculture. The group was established with the goal of developing local fisheries, and encompasses seven local self-governments: the towns of Bakar, Crikvenica, Kraljevica and Novi Vinodolski, and the municipalities of Fužine, Kostrena and Lokve, which together form a unique fishing area.

Novi Vinodolski Mayor Tomislav Cvitković and project manager Sandra Ristić believe the project in Klenovica will become a new tourist attraction in this coastal town.

LAGUR Tunera has approved funding in the amount of HRK 754,700 for the Town of Novi Vinodolski to implement the project Klenovica Fishing Centre. The funding is intended for the adaptation of the facility and furnishing the interior of the fisherman's house and its grounds, as well as creation of a visual identity, design, and printing of brochures.

‘The main goal of the project is to create an interpretation space that will unite maritime heritage and fishering and present them in an interesting way, but also create a new tourist attraction. Although fishing as an economic activity is much less prevalent today than it has been historically, Klenovica is still recognizable as a fishing village. We can say that we’re known as an exceptional gastronomic destination on the tourist map of the riviera, and we have the combination of fishing and catering to thank for it’, said Mayor Tomislav Cvitkovic, who lives in Klenovica and is a great lover of the sea and fishing.

Project manager Sandra Ristić told Novi list that the interior of the fishing house in Klenovica will be furnished with display tables on which models will be exhibited, while fishing tools will be hung up on the walls. Multimedia panels will be installed to present the intangible maritime and fishing heritage in a modern way, but the fisherman's house itself will retain a traditional appearance, complemented by the exterior decor around the building. Namely, they plan to set up a wooden pergola and build a small square that will be paved with stone slabs and fitted with benches.

‘The residents of Klenovica have kept numerous old photographs that speak of the lives of fishermen and families who dealt in fishing; they speak of the transmission of knowledge and skills in fishing and navigation, of legends and adventures. With a multimedia display we wish to show just how much maritime heritage is ingrained in the identity of Klenovica people and why it represents an important segment of their cultural heritage’, said Ristić.

Bakarac_i_tunere.jpgTunera in Bakarac / Image by Gargamel, Wiki Commons

There are also plans to set up two tunera in Povile village. Tunera are tuna lookouts, tall wooden towers erected along the coastline to assist local fishermen with tuna fishing.

‘Centuries-old tradition and the unique way of tuna fishing in the Northern Adriatic have left a permanent mark on life in the Kvarner gulf, including the village of Povile that used to have two tuna lookouts. Unfortunately, there is no trace of them today to speak about the past and the most important economic activity in the history of this area, so I believe that the project of building tunera towers in Povile will contribute to preservation of fishing heritage and create a recognizable emblem of the fishery area covered by LAGUR Tunera’, explained Ristić.

Povile will eventually get its own museum of fishing. The project is currently in the works, and once when initial designs are completed, a construction permit will be obtained.

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Croatia Increases Sea-Fish Catch and Production

ZAGREB, 14 July, 2021 - Croatia increased the catch and production of sea fish and other marine organisms by 9% in 2020 compared with the previous year, while the value of fisheries rose by 10.4%, according to provisional data from the Croatian Bureau of Statistics.

The increase in the value of fisheries was due to the 11.6% rise in the value of sea fisheries, which in turn was driven by the 10.3% increase in sales.

A total of 66,535 tonnes of pelagic fish were sold last year, which is 7,054 tonnes more than in 2019, while the value of pelagic fish sold rose by 13.7% to HRK 518.2 million.

Also sold were 18,321 tonnes of other fish, their value reaching HRK 774.8 million, up by 13.5% compared with 2019.

The number of fishermen engaged in maritime fishing in 2020 fell by 0.4% to 6,582, and the number of fishing vessels decreased by 0.8% to 7,555.

The provisional data also show that the total production of freshwater fish in 2020 declined by 14.7% to 2,644 tonnes.

(€1 = HRK 7.48)

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Journalist Clickbait Victim: The Curious Case of Mystery Fish on Korčula

June 2, 2021 -  When TC editor Iva Tatić caught the fish nobody could identify, TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac jumped to action in the hope he will find a marine life scoop. But after the dramatic realization that Atlantic lizardfish is nothing spectacular, he became a journalist clickbait victim. Meet the mystery fish on Korčula. 

It was early evening between 7 pm-8 pm on the eastern Korčula coastline on May 28. After a long week of handling the Total Croatia site, TC editor Iva Tatić decided to chill and went fishing. Instead of managing the multilingual site that brings you the best tips on how to travel and enjoy Croatia, she must've been happy with the idea she can enjoy in Croatia herself, as she was preparing two hooks – one with a squid and the other with the piece of bread. Marine life must be very humble cause instead of a squid (absolutely delicious, either fried or grilled and stuffed with swiss chard), the bread was the taken bait for the careless fish soul underneath the Adriatic surface.

Iva took the opportunity and caught its prey, but pretty soon, happiness for the catch was additionally spiced with curiosity.

191860912_10159156276628879_5181905177674677756_n.jpg

the source of curiosity and happiness © Iva Tatić

„What the hell is this?“ Iva asked the local Korčula fishermen showing them her catch.

And „no idea“ was the consensus by other marine life hunters.

„Locals call it the spider“, said a local fisherman known as Pero to Iva. „It looks like Spiderman“.

Iva didn't feel that Spiderman is an accurate comparison, and as no one really knew the answer, the whole thing went online.

After Iva shared the photos of its catch on Facebook, the online jury narrowed the mystery to two possible suspects: Saurida and Atlantic lizardfish.

Still being new and wanting to gain recognition in the newsroom, I took on myself to investigate what exactly is this Aquaman-Spiderman-love-child. Perhaps it's something invasive, a threat to the lovely Adriatic, and a fantastic journalist story.

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The case, the challenge, the scoop © Iva Tatić

Word on the expert street

A little bit of browsing through the pages of Rovinj Sea Research Centre (CIM), and a few calls, led me to the CIM Senior scientific associate, dr. Andrej Jaklin.

„It looks like Atlantic lizardfish, I saw that fish in person on Pelješac 15 years ago“, said Dr. Jaklin on the phone while looking at the images of the catch I sent him.

Jaklin's memory also seems fit with Pelješac being close to Korčula Island. Still, he said he can't really tell me too much about the fish and recommended it to me to contact dr. Marcelo Kovačić from the Natural History Museum Rijeka. However, dr. Kovačić, a curator for vertebrates, was on vacation, so the call was picked up by Milvana Arko-Pijevac, curator for marine invertebrates.

„I think this could be an Atlantic lizardfish, the head looks like it should, but I'm specialized for invertebrates, mollusks and shellfish“, said Silvana Arko-Pijevac.

So until that point, two experts for marine bio life are certain this is an Atlantic lizardfish (Synodus saurus). Fish, from Atlantic, I thought. Are we talking about an invasive species that manage to come to the northern dead-end of the Mediterranean all the way from the Atlantic? If so, is it hazardous to the domestic sea life of the Adriatic?

Despite recognizing the fish, neither Jaklin nor Arko-Pijevac couldn't say more details, but it's worth noting that the scientific community can once again serve as a role model to everyone who thinks they are experts on everything (both in Croatia but a trend we see spawn worldwide). Instead, my interlocutors accepted and pointed out the limits of their knowledge and suggested me someone who knows more.

Clickbait: It's not just for journalists anymore!

It took me a while to reach Dr. Jakov Dulčić from the Laboratory of Ichthyology and Coastal Fishery at the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries in Split. First, he was not in the office, and later, he was at a meeting. But, with Arko-Pijevac's claim that Dulčić is the best ichthyologist in all of Croatia, it was worth the wait.

Finally, my mobile phone impulses from Zagreb caught dr. Dulčić in Split, and I excitedly asked him for help. To identify and say a bit more about the mysterious fish fishermen in Korčula failed to recognize, but is suspected to be the Atlantic lizardfish.

„I have to see the photos to say for certain“, said Dulčić.

„I already sent them to your e-mail before this call. Can you please refresh your E-mail?“, I asked with hearable excitement in my voice and suspense in my gut.

The suspense only grew as Dulčić was opening the e-mail.

„Found it!“, he said and I almost screamed out of excitement,

„Yes, indeed, that is the Atlantic lizardfish“, confirmed Dulčić with a relaxed voice while I was ready to ask tons of questions about this weird and possibly invasive species.

„But that is neither exciting nor anything special to catch in the Adriatic“, continued Dulčić with the same chilled tone.

I listened to that sentence with a blank expression fortunately, nobody has seen it except the walls in my apartment.

„You might think it's unusual in Croatian waters because of its name, but it's the normal fish that lives in Adriatic“, added Dulčić.

I couldn't help but think what a sour poetic justice. Being a journalist, a member of the profession in which some of my colleagues try to catch views by clickbait, to be hooked (pun intended) on a clickbait in scientific terminology.

„They can be found across the Adriatic sea, everywhere in Croatia. Their population used to be smaller in the previous years, but it recently got larger. It seems they have certain cycles, but it's nothing spectacular“, he concluded.

„But how come none of the fishermen recognized it?“, I asked puzzled.

„Interestingly enough, it is often caught, but it can rarely be seen on the fish market, and that's a place thanks to which you can usually recognize fish“, explained Dulčić.

However, informing and educating fishers and the general public about marine life in the Adriatic is something dr Dulčić and the Oceanographic Institute are very dedicated to.

193315880_10159156276623879_7597329335062958211_n.jpg

Presenting you the Atlantic lizardfish © Iva Tatić

This is evident by the LEKFishResCRO project.

„This project will address the need to improve knowledge on the trends in Adriatic fisheries with novel methods as well as to acknowledge recent changes in fish biodiversity in a complex Adriatic ecosystem. The central objective of the project will be to evaluate the potential use of the LEK in developing the knowledge base for fisheries management and conservation. The strategy employed for this evaluation will be a two-way discussion between fisherman and other stakeholders from one side and fisheries biologists from another side around the subject of what sorts of indicators of ecosystem health would make sense in light of both the LEK of the fishers and the research-based knowledge (RBK) of the fisheries biologists“, says LEKFishResCRO website, and with loads of materials, you can check yourself.

„We collaborate well with fishermen, we work on their education, and with their tips and images they sent from the field we quickly gather research data“, explained Dulčić.

The invasive species are legitimately a threat to Adriatic, and it comes from the Red Sea through Eastern Mediterranean, but these examples are excellent topics for some other articles.

In the meantime, the mystery fish is identified as a mainstream species in the Adriatic. Somewhat newsworthy (maybe?), but this time my ship returned without a scoop from the stormy cruise in the sea of information.

I sent a message to Iva explaining what she caught (which she already found out on her own, she is a good journalist after all), and I only confirmed that she can unfreeze it and eat it safely. Additionally, I found this recipe at least.

korcula-572376_1280.jpg

Korčula and Adriatic Sea, Pixabay

Enjoy the Adriatic, but respect marine life

In an attempt to conclude this investigative piece (let's pretend it is one, please) on a socially responsible and eco-friendly note, I asked dr Dulčić if there are any type of fish tourists and locals shouldn't fish because it's on the verge of extinction and if caught it should be returned to the sea immediately. „Such fish is living in areas and conditions where you can't catch it with hooks or nets. But Do not dive out noble pen shells (Pinna nobilis), or disturb mammals such as dolphins. And be careful around sharks and jellyfish“, concluded dr. Dulčić.

Learn more about Korčula on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Navy Provided with Two High-Speed Boats to Monitor Fishing

ZAGREB, Nov 4, 2020 - The Croatian Navy on Wednesday received two high-speed interceptor VHB M-46 boats to be used to monitor fishing activities in the Adriatic.

The boats were procured based on an agreement concluded in July between the defence and agriculture ministries.

As  much as 70% of the value was covered by EU funds while the remainder was secured by the Agriculture Ministry. The Defence Ministry has provided crews and logistic support.

The VHB M-46 speed boats will be used for monitoring the fishing activities and will be also available for search and rescue missions on the sea. They are equipped with secure navigation, contact systems, infra-red and tv-cameras to monitor and record situations by day and night.

The boats enable a four-member crew to spend several days out at sea whereas the boats overall capacity is for 12 people.

One boat will be given to the Pula Coast Guard while the other will be allocated to the Coast Guard unit in Split.

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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Monday, 11 March 2019

Vrsar Seabed Being Drilled for Works on New Fishing Pier

As Morski writes on the 11th of March, 2019, the current situation at Vrsar harbour is now very lively. The Rijeka companies Vodogradnja and BSK Commerce began intensive works on the upgrading of Vrsar's pier, which would increase its capacity to allow for fifteen bigger fishing boats to moor.

As was reported by Glas Istre from Poreč Port Authority, the Croatian Ministry of Agriculture will invest a massive 10.5 million kuna in this project, 75 percent of which is funded by European Union funds and 25 percent comes from the funds of the competent ministry. The works will see the extension of the already existing sixty-metre-long pier.

All of the other projects that are due to be carried out in Istria in other port administrations are under preparation at this moment in time, while in Vrsar these works are being carried out currently and intensively within the framework of their previously planned deadline(s).

The pier is being extended for the needs of Vrsar's fishing infrastructure, meaning that its primary intention is for local fishermen. With the extension of the existing pier, fifteen new spaces for larger fishing vessels will be provided. On the construction site, Glas Istre came across one of the representatives of the Vodogradnja Rijeka company, engineer Davor Grbac, who confirmed that the works were now in full swing.

''We're currently in the seabed drilling phase where we will set up 22 pilots, which will be fitted with assembly parts manufactured at the factory. Following on from that comes the installation of the power and water supply,'' stated Grbac, he added, among other things, that the plan as it currently stands is to carry out the works on the pier in two phases. The first phase should come to an end at the beginning of this year's main tourist season, and then be picked up and ready to continue at the end of September.

Make sure to stay up to date by following our dedicated lifestyle page.

 

Click here for the original article by Slaven Brajkovic for Glas Istre

Saturday, 9 March 2019

EU Funds for Croatia's Island Fishermen and Fish Processors

Through the Maritime and Fisheries Operational Program, the amount of 234.9 million kuna was agreed for 635 users for their projects on seventeen islands in Croatia, while the amount of 176.7 million kuna was paid to as many as 570 beneficiaries.

As Morski writes on the 8th of March, 2019, the largest amount of beneficiaries of contracted and paid funds are on the island of Ugljan, where as much as 27 percent of the total contracted funds for beneficiaries on the islands have been contracted. Given the large number of fishermen on the island of Ugljan, particularly in Kali, the measures that have been taken relate to (among other things) health and safety and energy efficiency on fishing vessels, as well as an additional measure aimed at improving the conditions for product placement on the market, thus achieving a higher price for the products themselves.

''Our fishermen, fish farmers and [fish] processors are well acquainted with the opportunities the Operational Program for Maritime and Fisheries provides, and that has also been confirmed by the growth of the available funds [for this sector] over the last two years. Since the beginning of the implementation of the Maritime and Fisheries Operational Program, a total of 42 tenders have been issued to date, of which 34 have been during the mandate of this government. So far, 47.27 percent of the allocation, or 1.2 billion kuna, has been contracted, and almost 600 million kuna has been paid,'' said the minister of agriculture, Tomislav Tolušić.

Investment on the island Brač is set to occur immediately after the investment on Ugljan. On the other fifteen islands, most of the investments have been directed towards fishing and measures related to it, examples of that are Hvar, Dugi Otok and Cres.

There is also investment occurring in the field of energy-efficient heating and cooling systems in construction facilities for fish processing, as opposed to outdated ''classic'' systems (fossil fuel systems). Money will also be pumped into improving business processes by acquiring new IT equipment and more modern business management software.

Within the Croatian Maritime Operational Program for the Programming Period 2014-2020, 348.7 million euro (252.6 million euro from the EU budget and 96.1 million euro from the budget of the Republic of Croatia) have been made available.

These funds are extremely important to Croatia's fishing sector and as such meets their very specific needs over the aforementioned time period. Within the operational program, in cooperation with all interested stakeholders from scientific institutions, local and regional self-government units, state institutions and entities from the fisheries sector, 36 different measures were covered for the entire sector, from sea and freshwater catches and farming, to the processing and eventual marketing of fish products, to producer organisations and FLAGs.

Make sure to stay up to date on fishing in Croatia and much, much more by following our dedicated business page.

Monday, 4 March 2019

Are EU Rules Limiting the Traditional Lives and Work of Croatian Fishermen?

It goes without saying that the EU has more positives than it does negatives, at least for most countries, but what of its ultra-stringent rules when it comes to fishing policies? Dalmatian and Istrian fishermen have some vastly different experiences when it comes to carrying out the task at hand, but they share one thing in common - EU rules seem to be unfairly pushing Croatian fishermen towards tourism and away from fishing, making a workforce more and more difficult to come across, and to keep hold of.

''In 1998, I asked some of my elders how I should distribute my earnings. They said: Fifty percent goes to the company, fifty percent goes to the crew. I still stick to those rules today, I've never deviated from them, so I don't have any problems with my crew,'' says fisherman Ante Juran from Vrsar.

As Morski writes on the 3rd of March, 2019, while fishermen in Istria have managed to keep their heads above water (no pun intended) for now, some alarming data has arrived from down south in Dalmatia, some boat owners are complaining that they can't find fishermen to work for them for love nor money. In Tribunj in Šibenik-Knin County, claims suggest that as many as ''fifty fishermen'' are missing. The crews are difficult to find, meaning that more often than not, there is an unskilled labour force working on the ships, compiled with people from all parts of Croatia simply looking for employment, and there is also a workforce from neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia present.

The media say that one Ugljan entrepreneur invested 2.9 million euros in a new fishing vessel, and is now "desperately seeking twenty fishermen'' to work on board. It has been claimed that nobody will fish even for a guaranteed wage of one thousand euros per month, at least according to a report from Glas Istre. Is that possible? In these paradoxical times - probably.

In Istria, everyone is reluctant to talk about the matter, but they all solemnly confirm that there are less and less available fishermen wanting to work, that is, there is no qualified or even unskilled labour willing to go fishing on these vessels. Vessels specifically built for ''commercial'' fishing are plagued by this issue. Only one such boat can be seen along the Rovinj coast, other places are occupied primarily boats that take tourists back and forth in the summer. Robert Momić, chair of the fishermen's guild at the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts, says that the EU's often highly stringent rules don't leave much leg room, and they actively encourage fishing boat owners to focus mainly on tourism, leaving fishermen with little choice but to stray from this traditional industry, too.

''The system limits the fishing trade and more and more fishermen are finding that real profit lies in the transport of tourists. It's easier to make money driving tourists around to record how dolphins jump around in the open sea than to fish with respect to quotas and various other restrictions. The EU's operational programs should help fishermen stay at sea, and this doesn't go without boosting investment in new ships. Given the restrictive measures, there are fewer fishing days and, consequently, it's harder to pay workers and to keep up with tax obligations properly. One thing is certain: The fishing industry remembers better days, in today's legal environment, only big fishing vessels (ships of about thirty feet in length) can make money and offer decent salaries to each crew member, and a large vessel like that requires an average of nine crew members. The problem with us in Istria is that this season coincides with the height of the tourist season, when it's even more difficult to find crew members,'' says Robert Momić.

Make sure to stay up to date with our dedicated lifestyle and business pages for much, much more.

 

Click here for the original article by Ello Velan for Glas Istre

Sunday, 3 March 2019

VIDEO: Fishermen Free Large Shark From Net in Savudrija

It isn't every day that you end up with a fish as big as this in your net! A look at the moment when fishermen in Savudrija discovered they might have bitten off a bit more than they could chew (or perhaps those were the thoughts of the unfortunate shark). 

As Morski writes on the 3rd of March, 2019, a large seven-metre-long shark unfortunately became entangled in the net of a fisherman from Savudrija, before being successfully cut free, removed from the net, and returned to the sea. The scene was filmed from an onlooker's standpoint and uploaded onto IstraMet's Facebook page.

While some onlookers and viewers of the video were likely intimidated by the size and power of this large shark, the better-informed among them claim that the unlucky shark is merely a harmless type which feeds on plankton and doesn't pose any threat to human life. The commentators writing below the released video greatly appreciated the selfless act of the fisherman from Savudrija who quickly got to work releasing the distressed shark, with the understanding that the nets in which the animal became tangled suffered damage and had to be cut in order to remove the shark.

The author of the footage, which has attracted well over 40,000 views at the time of writing this, wrote that the job of working to release the animal from the nets lasted for more than half an hour.

"It's great that he [the shark] has been returned [to the sea], finally common sense wins in this little country! I just hope that they really got him totally out of the net and released him completely - which is not seen in this too short video - otherwise his "release'' is in vain, plus the animal is still in shock,'' reads one of the video's comments.

However, according to other information from the field, the fishermen from Savudrija did not release the shark out of mercy, but releasing the shark from the surface wasn't possible, and they were unable to find out whether or not the animal was even alive at all at that point. More precise information on what happened and what type of shark is in question will be released upon inspection by a vet.

Make sure to stay up to date by following our dedicated lifestyle page.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Croatian Fish Farms Proving A Sound Investment

December 2, 2018 — The food flies in while the fish swim out. Croatian fish farms remain one of the few economic bright spots for a country that’s otherwise a net importer, said economists at the International Aquaculture Conference held in Vukovar last week, according to Morski.hr

The fisheries sector generated a trade surplus of almost EUR 45 million this year, according to Dragan Kovačević, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce’s Vice President of Agriculture and Tourism. The fishing industry’s overall success dulls the impact of a nearly-EUR 1 billion trade deficit Croatia’s had since 2012. It’s only grown since joining the bloc in 2013, adding another EUR 50 billion during the first eight months of this year.

Croatia made significant investments into aquaculture and mariculture — fish farming in sea water and fresh water, respectively — to utilize its ample coastline and zig-zagging rivers. The returns on those investments have only started coming in, according to Dragičević.

“We’re seeing a constant increase in mariculture,” he said, referring to farming fish in seawater.

Croatian fish farms have already exceeded the whitefish and tuna goals laid out in its Strategic Plan for Aquaculture, which had a 2020 deadline.

Aquaculture — often referring to fish farming in freshwater — has not developed as quickly, with disease and drought hampering production in 2018. Yet Kovačević insists production will jump past this year’s 3,200 tons thanks to new investments and incoming cash from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

There are also ongoing investments as part of a 2014–2020 Operational Program for Maritime and Fisheries, which will dole out about HRK 1.67 billion.

“Aquaculture, both sea and freshwater, are very important for the Croatian economy,” said Assistant Minister of Agriculture Ante Mišura, adding the European Commissions is allowing state aid to carp farmers experiencing reduced profits.

The boom in aquaculture comes just as the EU is trying to lower fishing quotas, making room in the market for farmed fish. Of all the fish consumed in the EU last year, 35 percent came from within the EU, of which 10 percent were raised on fish farms.

If the industry continues to grow, the signature yellow rings of fish farms and pens dotting the Adriatic and freshwater bodies throughout Croatia may become a symbol of economic progress.

To read more about Croatia’s fishing industry, click here.

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