By WWF Adria

“We are insatiable and greedy, and that is why there is almost no fish in the Adriatic anymore“.

Sebastijan Raveljić, fisher

This is just one of the headlines from the articles written by journalists who gathered on the Croatian island Dugi Otok on a press trip to Telašćica Nature Park from 3 to 5 October 2019.

Twelve media representatives from Albania, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Spain and Slovenia, including 2 television stations, joined the press trip organised by WWF Adria and WWF Mediterranean in the framework of the FishMPABlue2 project, to understand how we are empowering small-scale fisheries in order to create more sustainable models.

Decades of a top-down approach in fisheries management has failed to safeguard the Mediterranean marine ecosystem and has been unable to create a widespread sense of ownership and self-investment amongst Mediterranean fishers. Small-scale fisheries have the potential to impact far less on the marine environment than large-scale fisheries (for instance trawling) and could be more equitable. That is why journalists spent a day with the fisher Sebastijan Raveljić on his boat. He showcased how and why he decided to reduce his fishing activities to work on fishing tourism. Raveljić used to catch about 50-100 kilos per day, spending all night on the sea. Today, it’s enough for him to have 2 nets, to collect up to 10 kilos, and to earn more speaking with tourists and preparing meals for them using what he has caught.

Another topic was co-management, an approach we want to hear more of when referring to fisheries management in the Mediterranean. It points to the sharing of management responsibility and authority between public administrations and the stakeholders that make use of the resources. It strives to restore the health of the marine environment through more equitable decision-making and better outcomes for fishers. A co-management approach allows us to find common ground, and it’s proving to be more sustainable and more profitable.

WWF Adria is actively working with the fishers and MPA staff in Telašćica towards co-management. For the purpose of this press trip, a representative from the Ministry of Agriculture, department of Fisheries, joined the meeting for the very first time. Journalists had the opportunity to speak with many fishers and to the management of the park, understanding their will to protect the sea from overfishing. The fact is that both fishers and park’s management agreed on the proclamation of the no-go zones around the park, which sets a precedent in Croatia. The Deputy Minister of Fisheries in Croatia, Ante Mišura, also joined the press trip and explained the legal efforts which have to be undertaken to have co-management as a practice in all Croatian Marine Protected Areas.

The press trip was a real success with about 20 articles published in Croatian, Slovenian, Albanian and Spanish press.