On June 9 and 10, 2022, a Conference on reducing the impact of anchorage on seagrasses was held in Split. The conference was attended live by more than 60 participants, and 100 people joined in via the YouTube channel to get information and discuss the topic of establishing environmentally friendly anchoring systems and control of free anchoring.
The conference was opened by Managing Board President of Sunce Association Zrinka Jakl, and Deputy Prefect of Split-Dalmatia County Stipe Čogelja addressed the participants with a welcome speech.
– The Croatian charter fleet currently holds 40 percent of the world’s vessel rental fleet, and to our county belongs approximately 70 percent of the territorial sea of the Republic of Croatia, and that is why we need to raise awareness about the devastation of the marine environment, educate citizens about the responsibilities and ensure a timely reaction of the inspection – said Čogelja.
On behalf of Commune di Monfalcone, the leading partner of the SASPAS project, Monica Tortul invited everyone gathered to consider how to use the good results of this project in future work. Given that the conference is the final event of the EU Interreg Italy-Croatia SASPAS “Safe Anchoring and Seagrass Protection in the Adriatic Sea” project, on the first day Andrea Rismondo, a partner in the project, presented experiences and achieved results from Croatia and Italy.
We remind you that the goal of the SASPAS project is the preservation and restoration of seagrasses through the installation of environmentally friendly anchoring systems, the pilot project of transplantation of seagrasses, monitoring and defining an integrated management system for seagrasses in the Adriatic.
The preservation and restoration of seagrasses
– In Croatia, as part of the SASPAS project, 40 environmentally friendly anchoring systems were installed in the Kornati National Park, monitoring was established and transplantation of Posidonia was carried out on sites damaged by anchoring, which was one of the first such procedures in the Croatian part of the Adriatic. In order to make sailors and the general public aware of these issues, we launched the “Become a Posidonia keeper” campaign, which is still ongoing. – said Vida Zrnčić, project manager of the SASPAS project within the Sunce Association.
In the Western Mediterranean, the decline of the Posidonia seagrass has been recorded as much as 32% – 50%, and the forecasts are even worse due to the climate crisis on which it is extremely sensitive to. The functions that this habitat provides for the marine ecosystem, such as sediment retention and oxygen production, could disappear within the next 50 years.
– It is difficult for people to connect with something that is not so attractive, it is far from the eye sight and in fact, they perceive Posidonia meadows only as a dark part of the sea over which many are afraid to swim over. – said Managing Board President of Sunce Association, Zrinka Jakl, in her presentation on obstacles in the good management of seagrasses.
Seagrass mapping and monitoring
– The challenge we face in the protection of seagrasses is that we do not have precise maps of their distribution and information about their condition. Although it seems to us that these are endless meadows, the fact is, they stretch only about 100 meters of the coastal belt, which is under great pressure from human activities. A prerequisite for the implementation of protection and sustainable management is mapping and monitoring – concluded Jakl.
The legislative framework and management of the anchorages in the Balearic Islands, Spain, is an example of good practice for the protection of Posidonia. Everyone in the Balearics knows about Posidonia, children learn about it at school, and the Ministry of Environmental Protection of the Balearic Government has created the Posidonia Surveillance Service.
– Every day we are on the field with 18 ships, there is a number that sailors can call for information, we provide education, help the ships to anchor properly, and explain to the captains what Posidonia is and what tools they can use in order to not endanger it. – said Marcial Bardolet Richter, representative of Posidonia Surveillance Service.
In the Balearic Islands, there are laws on anchoring, they have official cartography of meadows, and fines for anchoring in Posidonia range from 150 to 300 Euros.
– It was not easy at the beginning, however, due to the pressure of the public who saw the anchoring problems, the politicians took action and now we have strong protocols, and the penalties are applicable. I want to emphasize that we do not issue many fines, we are focused on prevention and our main role is education and information. We have a system and contacts with the nautical sector, which is satisfied with the nature protection that we achieve in this way – concluded Bardolet Richter.
Concessions for ecological anchorages
The conference also gathered panelists who, from the point of view of different sectors and organizations, presented their experiences and recommendations. Everyone agrees that it is important to simplify and speed up the procedures for issuing concessions for ecological anchorages and to integrate nature protection conditions into them. Public institutions that manage protected areas need to be able to finance the protection of Posidonia meadows from fees obtained through concessions. It is necessary to strengthen cooperation between sectors and communication towards the public, especially boaters.
– It does not make sense to place ecological anchorages everywhere, just as not every bay needs to have an economic facility, we need to determine the carrying capacity locally, at the level of the county and ti she state. Only intersectoral discussion and cooperation at all levels (state, county, LGU, concessionaire) can produce positive decisions – emphasized Jelena Kurtović Mrčelić from the Public Institution „More i krš“.
– The advice for the future is certainly a clear definition of all the steps from the very request for obtaining a concession to the very end of the process. – added Ana Marija Jakas, from the organization Friends of the Island of Šćedro.
– Telašćica is one of the parks that, after more than 30 years, managed to arrange spatial, strategic, and regulatory documents that enable the establishment of anchorages and the control of free anchoring. Due to the excessively long duration of these procedures, opportunities for financing the installation of anchorages were missed. Conservationists still have limited powers to sanction free anchoring. ti s necessary to speed up the procedures and strengthen the powers and capacities for supervision, especially in the area of the Ecological Network, said Milena Ramov from the Telašćica Nature Park Public Institution.
– Our sea is beautiful and we have ideal sailing conditions, an indented coast, calm sea, ideal temperatures, and nearby destinations which contribute to the attraction of an increasing number of sailors and unfortunately lead to mass tourism. Boaters love the sea and if they are provided with information on how to preserve it, they are ready to adjust their behavior at sea. – added Zlatko Vodanović from Adriatic Sailing.
– Our next steps are the continuation of cooperation, finding funds for new projects, and encouraging competent institutions to improve the legislative framework and its implementation, to preserve seagrasses and the entire marine ecosystem. We invite all boaters to responsibly enjoy the beauties of the Adriatic this year. – concluded Zrinka Jakl, Managing Board President of Sunce Association.
The Association Sunce will continue to expand the network of socially responsible companies and companies through the campaign “Become a Posidonia keeper” which, as ambassadors and keepers of Posidonia, will directly help protect seagrasses and Posidonia, which is a source of life, a witness of marine history and a prerequisite for the future, through their behavior and actions.
The project SASPAS – “Safe Anchoring and Seagrass Protection in the Adriatic Sea” is financed by the European Fund for Regional Development within the framework of the Interreg V-A IT-HR CBC Program (Priority Axis 3 – Environment & cultural heritage). It was conducted by eight partner institutions from Croatia and Italy, under the leadership of the Municipality of Monfalcone from Italy (Selc Cooperative Company (IT), National Interuniversity Consortium for Marine Sciences (IT), Provisional Management Consortium of Regional Natural Park »Coastal Dunes from Torre Canne To Torre San Leonardo«, Association for Nature, Environment and Sustainable Development Sunce (HR), Kornati National Park (HR), University of Rijeka (HR), Consortium for The Coordination of Research Activities Concerning The Venice Lagoon System (IT)).