Protected areas are one of the most important ways to preserve nature, and establishing no-take zones is particularly important for restoring damaged ecosystems, especially marine ones.
In response to the dramatic loss of biodiversity that we are witnessing today, the members of the European Union adopted the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 in 2020.
The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 represents a comprehensive framework for bringing nature back into our lives to achieve a balance between human activities and preserving biodiversity.
What are the objectives of the Strategy?
The goal of the Strategy is for each member country to contribute to establishing a network of effective protected areas on 30% of the sea surface and 30% of the land by 2030. Of that total percentage, 10% of the sea and 10% of the land should be strictly protected.
These goals align with the goals adopted worldwide within the framework of international conventions. It is clear that more than the establishment of protected areas is required. Therefore, the importance of connecting with other strategies, especially those aimed at combating climate change, is recognized.
But it’s not all about size and percentages. The EU Biodiversity Strategy clearly states that protection must be effective, and achieving effectiveness is a special challenge.
How should member countries implement the Strategy?
The Commission has drawn up a series of guidelines on what habitats and species-protected areas should cover, what effective protection and management means, what strict protection means, how to involve stakeholders and how member states will report their progress to the European Commission and the public. The preservation of ecosystems and habitats that efficiently store carbon (such as Posidonia meadows), original forests, areas of exceptional biodiversity and those with great potential for restoration is particularly emphasized.
The guidelines were created to make it easier for member countries to fulfill their assumed political obligations by adopting the Strategy. The EU Biodiversity Strategy also plans to establish a system for monitoring progress in achieving goals. In 2024, an evaluation of progress is planned and, if necessary, the introduction of stronger legal and other measures toward member countries.
The Strategy deals with crucial threats to the marine environment
The Strategy emphasizes that human activities at sea should be planned, considering the sensitivity and enabling the restoration of marine ecosystems.
It also deals with many critical threats to the marine environment, including pollution from land-based sources (agriculture, plastics, industrial and domestic wastewater, mineral extraction), the impacts of tourist activities (destruction of marine habitats, especially Posidonia meadows) and fishing.
It focuses on the devastating effects of overfishing and harmful fishing practices (e.g., indiscriminate fishing, tools that damage the seabed) and their incompatibility with biodiversity conservation goals. In this way, the way is paved for more decisive action to reduce the negative impacts of these practices on the environment and sustainable fishing.
Protected areas in Croatia
The existing categories and areas under protection are being revised to obtain the most accurate initial data. Current data shows that in the European Union, within the Natura 2000 network, a total of 18% of the land and 8% of the sea are protected, and an additional 8% of the land and 3% of the sea are under national protection categories, such as national parks, nature parks and the like. Only 3% of the land and 1% is under strict protection.
In Croatia, the ecological network (Natura 2000) occupies 36.8% of the land territory and 9.3% of the sea under national jurisdiction (territorial sea and exclusive economic zone of the Republic of Croatia). Protected areas under national protection categories cover 13.37% of the land and 1.93% of the sea, most of which are also part of the ecological network. Within these areas, there are small areas of no-take zones only in the national parks, the Telašćica Nature Park and the Jabučka basin. Currently, there is no publicly available data on the percentage of strict protection, but it is more likely per mile rather than percentage.
It is evident that Croatia still has a lot of work to do, but let’s look at it as an opportunity to move towards a more sustainable use of our sea, as a pledge to future generations and the survival of life on Earth.
A sea full of life
In light of these challenges, Sunce has decided to contribute wherever needed. As part of our commitment, we launched the Sea Full of Life (More puno života) campaign to raise Croats’ awareness about the necessity of effective protected areas in the sea, their advantages and long-term benefits for the community.
Follow our posts and join us to work together to preserve our natural heritage and ensure the wealth of life in our sea for current and future generations.