On EFFICIENTN2K specialist seminar rangers learned what to do in case of maritime offenses in protected areas


For many years, we have witnessed the devastation and lawlessness on maritime properties – from illegal construction, unlawful beach filling, and concreting of the coast to inappropriate beach nourishment and non-compliance with concession regulations.

All of these are examples of maritime offences, or as the Maritime code states, offences against the regulations governing the relations in the marine and submarine areas of the Republic of Croatia or those over which Croatia has sovereign rights, their shores and ports, maritime objects belonging to Croatia and all maritime crafts navigating or staying in the Croatian marine and submarine areas in connection with the navigation safety, the human life and environment protection, as well as maritime traffic.

According to the new Maritime domain and sea ports act, maintaining order on maritime property moved from the national to the local level, which includes municipalities and cities, as well as public institutions managing protected parts of nature. Specifically, rangers will enforce decisions on maritime property order on behalf of public institutions.

For that reason, on May 23rd, a specialist seminar titled “Maintaining order in maritime domains within protected areas” was held in Split. It was organized in collaboration between Sunce and Tempora Academia. This event, implemented as part of the EfficientN2K project, brought together employees of the nature guard and expert protection services of public institutions managing marine and coastal protected areas and Natura 2000 areas.


Cross-border cooperation for more effective supervision

Matea Špika, the project leader of EfficientN2K, briefly presented the project and the results of the analysis of rangers’ procedures. Marco Dadamo and Ornella Accoto, representatives of the project partner Municipality of Ugento, shared with participants how their supervision functions and explained which institutions are involved in its implementation in Italy. They referred to the wide range of topics: surveillance of illegal fishing, surface water pollution due to agricultural activities, and wildfires in Italian protected and Natura 2000 areas. Sharing experiences between two countries is extremely important and contributes to more effective nature protection.


Challenges faced by rangers in supervising maritime domains in protected areas and Natura 2000 areas

Participants then discussed the problems and uncertainties they encounter in their work, such as making Decisions on order in maritime domains, illegal sea filling and beach nourishment within protected areas, the inability to act concerning maritime domains within the significant landscape category, illegal actions by concessionaires, threats they are exposed to, etc. They were also interested in the possibilities of using surveillance technology

Public institutions managing marine and coastal protected areas are obligated to make decisions regarding order in maritime domains. Most public institutions have not adopted these decisions within the legally defined period.

During the seminar, participants had the opportunity to learn more about the position and powers of public institutions in the Misdemeanor law and relevant procedural and substantive legal provisions for prosecuting maritime offenses. The methodology of acting after noticing a committed maritime offense and writing an indictment proposal for the said offense was also covered.


The importance of persistence and professional communication for rangers

Josip Pavliček, a lecturer from Tempora Academia, emphasized the importance of persistence by rangers, other institutions, and the media in recognizing and reporting such offenses. In this way, new practices are introduced, and the competent institutions are given a signal that changes are needed (e.g., increasing the capacity of specific institutions to work on certain issues, changing legal regulations), thus changing people’s awareness and behavior. For instance, an increase in the number of indictment proposals will inevitably lead to an increase in court capacities. Therefore, reports and appeals (if cases are dismissed) are the work and right of public institutions.

He also addressed the threats rangers are facing nowadays and advised that every threat should be reported to the police. Otherwise, it creates a practice where perpetrators feel they can do whatever they want. Persistence and perseverance of rangers, along with strengthening communication and cooperation with the police, were offered as solutions to suppress threats and other offenses.

The importance of clear and professional communication with offenders was also mentioned. It shapes the personal image of rangers, while politeness and respect contribute to the offenders’ cooperation.


The need for this type of education was noted during intensive discussions with stakeholders during the implementation of previous activities of the EfficientN2K project. We hope that this seminar has contributed to strengthening the capacities of rangers regarding the application of their powers under the new Maritime domain and sea ports act. Further education aimed at strengthening capacities in supervision is planned for the upcoming period.