Despite the series of international agreements, as well as legal and management frameworks in the Mediterranean area which are relevant for the protection of marine habitats and species, the marine biodiversity in the basin is still endangered.
As a contribution to the implementation of nature protection policies, among which is also the EU Biodiversity Strategy, the Public Institution Brijuni National Park has promoted the initiative of an informal network of all Croatian institutions managing protected areas of the marine ecosystem, regardless of the protection category by forming a Croatian Marine Protected Areas Network, CroMPA. This initiative was readily welcomed by the public institutions and competent Ministry, and the contents of mutual Cooperation Agreement was agreed upon.
The informal Croatian Marine Protected Areas Network was thus established in Brijuni National Park on 20 May 2021 with the following main objectives:
- increase of management effectiveness
- thematic networking
- capacity building
- gathering and exchange of data
- a common approach to resolving management challenges
- implementation influence and future development of a strategic legal framework
- environment protection policy on a national and international level
- common planning, preparation, and project implementation
The network has been initiated within the MPA Networks Interreg Med Project, co-financed with funds of the European Regional Development Fund.
In the Republic of Croatia, the protection of areas with marine ecosystems has been established within the framework of seven national categories of protected areas, declared by the Nature Protection Act and areas of Natura 2000 ecological network, based on the Habitats Directive and the Birds Directive of the EU. In the national park, nature park, special reserve, significant landscapes, and nature monuments categories, 17 areas are protected, and the ecological network with 247 areas includes 16,26 % of coastal sea and 9,81 km2 of the Ecological and Fisheries Protection Zone / Exclusive Economic Zone area.
Currently in the Republic of Croatia 15 public institutions and the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development are managing the protected areas and ecological network, which together encompass approx. 9% of the sea under national jurisdiction.