Sunce and Split-Dalmatia County gathered experts, sector representatives and citizens to discuss the preservation of the marine environment and coastal area


On Monday, October 16, at the roundtable discussion titled Protection of the Marine Environment and Coastal Area, Sunce and Split-Dalmatia County gathered experts, sector representatives, and engaged citizens. The key challenges we face in coastal management and spatial planning, nature protection, and the impact of human activities on the coastal area of the Adriatic were presented in order to discuss the protection of the coast and the marine environment.

This topic was chosen because citizen reports received through the Green Phone, a free tool for reporting problems in the environment and nature, clearly indicate the need for greater attention to this environmental issue. The largest number of reports in 2022 concerned illegal construction or landfilling, mainly at sea and on the coast. Also, an increase in the number of reports concerning wastewater discharged into the sea, both from ships and from land, was noticed.

Our panelists, representatives from various sectors, actively exchanged ideas and strategies for the preservation of the sea with citizens. Associate Professor Ph.D. Pikelj and Associate Professor Ph.D. Carević brought special value to the roundtable discussion with their scientific perspective and experiences based on conducted research on activities and their impacts on the sea and coast.


Professor Kristina Pikelj presented her knowledge on long-term coastal erosion in Split-Dalmatia County and how the Holocene coastal erosion crisis has been ongoing for the past 10,000 years.

Professor Dalibor Carević emphasized the challenges of the protection of the sea and coastal areas, pointing out the problem of coastal landfilling, which is particularly present in Split-Dalmatia County. Since 1968, as much as 19.6% of Croatia’s coastal land area has been filled, or, in other words, taken from the sea.

– Our sea is as it is, and our beaches are as they are, and we should accept them as such, not change them. Visitors come to see such beaches, not different ones, – Carević emphasized.

Which institution manages the coast and provides protection?

The Croatian coast is one of the most indented coasts of the EU, adorned not only by beautiful landscapes but also by many protected species and habitats. As the coast comprises not only organized, arranged, and tended beaches and beach resorts but also untouched wild coastlines, developed urban areas, and industrial complexes, the question arises: which institution manages the coast and ensures its protection and preservation?


Matea Dorčić from the Administrative Department for Tourism and Maritime Affairs of Split-Dalmatia County emphasizes that the county manages only a part of the coast. The rest of the coast is under the jurisdiction of the Republic of Croatia and within the competence of local self-government units.

– I am particularly content that, with the new Maritime Domain and Seaports Act, all proposed acts must be published on the county’s website. Everyone who wants to comment on spatial plans must be aware of the necessity of timely commenting, – said Dorčić.

Bojan Ivošević, Deputy Mayor of the City of Split, explained that until recently, the City had a limited role in the management of maritime assets. The situation has somewhat improved with the application of the new Maritime Domaine and Seaports Act, but managing these areas remains a challenge. Ivošević also points out that the relationship with the port authority is complex, but he believes that positive changes will occur.

Marija Vuković, head of the Administrative Department of Public Utilities, Infrastructure, and Environmental Protection of Split-Dalmatia County, pointed out that environmental impact assessments, including strategic assessments of spatial plans, are a useful tool for determining protection measures for an area. However, the relevant authorities are insufficiently involved in the procedures, and there is a lack of control over the measures once the intervention is done.

Marine area management plans do not exist

Petar Matković, Director of the Spatial Planning Institute of Split-Dalmatia County, spoke about the biggest challenges that the coast faces in the context of spatial planning, especially with an emphasis on the coastal area. He emphasizes the importance of spatial planning at the county level and points out that such plans for the management of the marine area do not exist. Instead, various plans set criteria for the maritime area, and often the hierarchy of relationships between plans is not respected.


Domagoj Lažeta, Director of the Public Institution “More i Krš” emphasizes that their authority is limited. Nature guards can take action only if they have caught someone in the act of committing an illegal act – which unfortunately exempts them from conducting investigative work.

Lažeta also expressed concern about the lack of cooperation with the port authority and the inspectorate. This issue of cooperation and coordination among different institutions remains a challenge in the preservation of protected areas.

The biggest threats in protected areas

The biggest threats to protected areas in Split-Dalmatia County, including species and habitats, are the concreting of the coast and landfilling, as well as the problem of wastewater from land and charter fleets at sea. Additionally, the uncontrolled growth of the tourism industry and rising sea temperatures due to climate change pose serious threats to the coastal ecosystem.

On the other hand, Joze Tomaš, the president of the County Chamber of Economy, evaluated positively the impact of tourism on the Adriatic coast. Tourism pollutes but also generates income, so it is necessary to direct tourism towards sustainability and closely monitor the implementation of regulations on the ground.

Can the new Maritime Domain and Seaports Act solve all issues?

The new Maritime Domain and Seaports Act better separates authorities and regulates certain pressures on the marine environment, such as landfilling, as well as more strictly regulating coastal construction. However, it cannot solve all issues, and it is very likely that conflicts between regulations will continue to arise in the future.


Head of Department Dorčić emphasizes that there are approximately 100 kilometers of beaches in Split-Dalmatia County and considers the number of concessions, which is 42, symbolic.

– After the Golden Cape in 2017, the concession allocation in Split-Dalmatia County underwent significant changes. We have regulations that are stricter than the Act, and we are currently aligning them with the new Act. It is important to stress that we do not announce tenders if we do not have the support of the local community, – said Dorčić.

Deputy Mayor Ivošević explained that the new Act foresees the necessity of maritime supervisors, which is why two new positions are being opened. However, he highlights the lack of promptness in solving problems.

– The supervision duty has its limitations. In many situations, we do not have the authority to act. I personally reported some things, and there is still no progress. It is necessary to continue educating not only citizens but also public authorities involved in coastal and marine management and supervision on how to address such challenges, – says Ivošević.

Nevertheless, one thing the panelists and participants agreed upon is that only through the synergy of the work of all competent authorities, as well as those authorities and citizens, can we improve the protection and preservation of the coast.

– It is important to use the provisions/regulations? of the new Act for the protection of the marine environment and to consider and use all the tools provided to us by the Environmental Protection Act and the Nature Protection Act, – concludes Hajdi Biuk, a lawyer from Sunce.

You can watch the full video of the roundtable discussion at the LINK.

Project Green Phone – Lend Your Voice to the Environment! in 2023 was co-financed by the Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund.