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.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Croatian Fishermen Given Welcome EU Exemptions

Croatian fishermen will have their lives and their work made much easier owing to the approval of exemptions for fishing with certain traditional methods, including the use of tow nets, which were formerly banned upon Croatia's entry into the European Union.

As Morski writes on the 2nd of November, 2018, according to the Official Gazette of the European Union, the derogations which Croatia applied for, which provide for exemptions from the provisions of the EU's Mediterranean Decree for Croatian fishermen operating in Croatian waters, have finally been officially approved.

With the publishing these documents, a multi-annual process, during which the Republic of Croatia applied for exemption from the provisions of the Mediterranean Decree, which prevented the use of certain fishing tools in a traditional way, has been completed, reported the Ministry of Agriculture.

This very welcome outcome was preceded by scientific research and the collection of arguments for exemptions for Croatian fishermen which were formulated in a management plan. These management plans, together with the derogations, were actually approved over the winter, but only with the publication of the implementing of these regulations does it become possible to implement them effectively into national legislation.

Fishing will take place according to the strict rules that had to be met, and continue to need to be met for the approval of the desired derogations. This move will not lead to an increase in fishing in general, nor will it negatively impact or cause any additional threat to coastal resources, habitats, or certain species of fish, but it will ensure the continuation of fishing with the use of former methods, in the manner and to the extent at which it stood before Croatia's accession to the EU.

Although the process of obtaining these derogations for Croatian fishermen was an extremely complex process in itself, this much anticipated outcome once again enables the legal work of more than 100 fishing vessels which do use fishing nets. It also enables the retaining of traditional fishing gear and fishing methods which have been present on the Croatian part of the Adriatic sea for decades. Their recognition in European Union legislation will now become official.

''Those who know the fishing [industry] know how much work has gone into obtaining these exemptions and how much harmony and cooperation was needed for us to fight for our traditions, our heritage, and our lifestyle. This is the best example of how strong we are together and how much we care about preserving our values. This outcome is down to everyone who has been working on it for years,'' stated Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture Tomislav Tolušić.

Interested in keeping up with more news like this from both the Croatian national political stage and the European one? Make sure to stay up to date with our politics page.

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Chance for Croatian Fishermen to Gain EU Money?

Could Croatia's fishing industry get a helping hand from the EU?

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Cromaris to Invest 370 Million Kuna by 2018

Large investments coming to the Croatian fish processing industry.

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