In the period from May to November 2020, Association Sunce carried out the Service of collecting waste from the sea through diving campaigns and trawling for the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development (official name: Measure 3.3.3. Collect waste in the sea through diving campaigns and trawling). The aim of the service was to remove waste from the seabed and from the coast, but also to raise public awareness of its impact on the Adriatic Sea.
The implementation included two coastal and underwater cleaning actions in seven coastal counties (Istria, Primorje-Gorski Kotar, Lika-Senj, Zadar, Šibenik-Knin, Split-Dalmatia, Dubrovnik-Neretva). The cleaning locations were selected in cooperation with relevant stakeholders of marine environment protection, such as public institutions for the management of protected areas, local self-government units, citizens’ associations, diving clubs (associations and centers), fishing communities and others.
Waste from the seabed was cleaned by licensed divers, while fishermen collected waste with trawl nets.
In addition to cleaning at selected locations, Association Sunce also monitored collected waste according to a methodology whose applicability on our coast was tested in the field through the DeFishGear project (Vlachogianni, 2015a). Monitoring the types and locations of waste from the sea is a prerequisite for discovering the source of waste that reaches the sea and is important for the establishment of functional management systems, both for waste and the marine environment.
Based on the experience of implemented actions, similar projects and legislative frameworks in the Republic of Croatia, Association Sunce created a draft Protocol for Organizing Clean-up Actions in the Marine Environment and Coastal area on the Territory of the Republic of Croatia, the Collection and Processing of Data of Marine Litter.
The goal of the protocol is to provide guidelines for the organization and implementation of actions to clean up waste from the sea, and to provide guidelines for the implementation of monitoring and data processing related to the amounts and types of waste collected through such actions. Due to the growing need to sustainably manage waste in the sea and due to the coordination of clean-up actions, these guidelines will enable the identification of problematic locations and the determination of the flow and quantity of marine waste in the Republic of Croatia.
The protocol is intended for physical and legal persons and public authorities that intend to carry out and/or finance the implementation of actions to clean up waste from the sea through underwater cleaning actions by diving, underwater cleaning actions by trawling and beach cleaning actions.
The Protocol itself contains four chapters. In addition to the introductory chapter of the Legislative Framework and the clarification of terms, it contains a chapter that explains how to organize a cleanup action. It offers answers to the questions of who are stakeholders and how to identify stakeholders. It directs the competent authorities to obtain the necessary permits, defines the scope of activities of the competent utility companies, suggests ways to choose the location and time of activities. It provides guidelines for the necessary equipment, human resources, logistical aspects related to lunch and refreshments, expected costs, ways to motivate volunteers to participate and promote the cleanup.
In the chapter “Implementation of actions for cleaning waste from the sea“, the protocol provides guidelines for creating a plan for cleaning actions, the way in which monitoring of collected waste is carried out during and at the end of beach cleaning actions, and what to do and how to deal with the collected waste.
The last chapter of the Protocol provides the methods of data processing after the implementation of the actions, more precisely the methods of creating the report and to whom it is submitted. Data processing for implemented actions includes part of mandatory reporting to LGUs in accordance with the Waste Management Act, specific reports depending on the needs and goals of the organizers of actions, and processing and storage of data obtained from the inspection and classification of marine waste.
At the end of each cleaning action, it is necessary to create a report on the action carried out, which contains at least the following information:
- location with coordinates,
- location sketch,
- the area of the cleaned site,
- location selection criteria,
- location accessibility,
- event time and action agenda,
- logistics that includes equipment and administrative prerequisites,
- the results of the action in the number and type of waste collected,
- information about the company that took over the waste,
- method of handling waste after collection,
- photos from the action,
- signature lists,
- activities undertaken towards the media in order to communicate with the public and sensitize local communities.
The report on the action and all collected data obtained from the inspection and classification of marine waste are processed and stored by the organizer, and one copy of the report is delivered to the competent LGU, the harbor master’s office and the donor, if applicable.
The goal of this Protocol is to obtain a unique database that later serves the scientific community to create recommendations for decision makers.
The European Union, through the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, recognizes the adoption of national strategies for the management of the marine environment as an effective tool for the control and planning of human activities in the seas. Of course, the management is directed towards the preservation of marine ecosystems and the limitation of all impacts that aim at the opposite. Croatia is currently in the process of creating its national strategy for the management of the marine environment, and as one of the action programs for the implementation of the aforementioned strategy, the Program of Measures for the Protection and Management of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Area of the Republic of Croatia was adopted. These measures need to be taken in order to achieve and maintain a good state of the environment and achieve the goals of managing the marine environment and the coastal area.