Unique co-management system contributes to preserving small-scale fishery communities in Telašćica Nature Park, Croatia

EM5 19 FISH MPA CroatiaWWF project brings alternative livelihoods to fishers in the Adriatic

For the past three years, WWF Adria, a regional WWF office for the Balkans with headquarters in Zagreb, Croatia, has been working in Telašćica Nature Park / Marine Protected Area (MPA), in the center of the Croatian coast. The MPA is becoming known as the place where, for the first time in Croatia, fishers have been involved in the design of the management plan for the protected area. The key objective is to create a model for sustainable fisheries in the Adriatic.

A network has been created between the fishers, government (Directorate of Fisheries), the park management, and WWF Adria to co-manage the fisheries. The network is part of the FishMPABlue2 project which is building good working relationships between MPA managers and fishers in 11 pilot sites in six Mediterranean countries. In Croatia, the project’s “co-management model” strives to develop effective governance measures with a positive impact on the environment and on the socio-economic levels of local fishing communities. Within the project, the fishers decided to create a no-take zone in the MPA themselves and substituted their nets with more selective ones to reduce fishing pressure and catch-per-unit-effort.

This article was featured in EUROFISH Magazine 5/2019.


Fishing tourism compensates for reduced fishing effort

FishMPABlue2 also helps fishers to diversify their activities into fishing tourism and the development of new skills, while reducing their fishing effort in the MPA. Fifteen fishermen are represented on the Telašćica Nature Park co-management board, but the entire community numbers around 25 fishers ranging in age from 23 to 70. Small-scale fishermen mainly use gillnets but also longlines, spears, and traps, depending on the season.  One of the fishermen involved in the project is Sebastijan Raljević, who uses a 300-meter-long gillnet to demonstrate fishing techniques to tourists in contrast to the 1,000-meter-long net he used as a professional small-scale fisherman. Mosor Prvan, Project Officer at WWF Adria, says that income from fishing tourism is higher, with lower pressure on stocks, making this a win-win situation for both fisherman and fish.

The Croatian Directorate of Fisheries recently endorsed these efforts by recognizing and supporting the work in Telašćica and Lastovo Nature Park MPAs and agreeing to enforce the management plans that will be included in national legislation by the end of 2019. With this, Croatia is set to become a co-management pioneer in the Mediterranean. This is a good example of a management plan for fisheries being developed using a bottom-up approach involving fishers, scientists, non-governmental organizations and government, says Ante Misura, Assistant Minister for Fisheries, expressing his satisfaction with the results achieved so far. More information on the project can be found at https://fishmpablue-2.interreg-med.eu/our-story/who-we-are/