The Dubrovnik-Neretva Regional Development Agency brought together the local Community of Practices stakeholders on 28 February for a special occasion – a coordination meeting for the upcoming campaign and marine litter awareness raising programme.
Marine litter is one of the fastest growing problems and global concerns. Every year, millions and millions of tons of litter end up in the ocean worldwide, posing environmental, economic, health and aesthetic problems. Researches have shown that seawater samples contain six times more plastic than plankton. Awareness of the importance of marine litter problem as regards the environment, economy and human health is increasingly present with the needs to take appropriate measures and find efficient, long-term solutions. Plastic i.e. plastic packaging waste, such as drinking bottles and disposable bags, is by far the most common type of residue in the marine environment. Unlike organic materials, plastics never “disappear” in the nature. Due to the numerous processes over time, plastic waste is fragmented into micro particles and ingested by marine organisms, which is permanently and irreversibly making it part of the nutritional chain, ultimately reaching humans. Marine litter is a problem that goes beyond the administrative boundaries: once it is found in the sea, it does not belong to anyone.
The largest quantity of marine litter in Croatian waters is carried out by currents from neighboring countries. Dubrovnik-Neretva County, which is one of 11 URBAN-WASTE pilot areas, due to its geographic position on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea, is heavily under the influence of huge amounts of marine litter. A public alarm has has occurred in December 2017, when the old port of the City of Dubrovnik and surrounding beaches, listed as a World Heritage Sites, were overwhelmed with garbage.
As a small step for this big problem, the County decided to go for a awareness raising measure within the URBAN-WASTE project. This is one of four planned measures for Dubrovnik-Neretva County which will be coordinated by the Regional Development Agency DUNEA. Dubrovnik- Neretva County departments will also give their expert support, Department for Communal Affairs, Transport and Communications and the Department for Environmental Protection and Nature Management, along with the Local Fisheries Action Group – FLAG South Adriatic, while the educational workshops will be carried out by experts from the Ecological Association for Conservation and Protection of the Sea and the Coastal Zone “Little Siren”.
Conclusions of the meeting, held on 28 February, list a number of activities, such as educational workshops with accompanying materials and bilingual brochures. Of particular importance is the cooperation with an other European project, ML-REPAIR, carried out by the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries from Split, whose representatives also participated in the meeting. The main ML-REPAIR’s contribution to this measure will be cooperation with volunteers, fishermen who, on a daily basis, have marine litter as a “secondary catch”. It is necessary to define the exact pilot location where volunteer fishermen could dispose of the collected marine waste and thus affect the reduction of the marine litter in the environment. ML-REPAIR is a continuation of the DeFishGear – “Marine Waste Management System in the Adriatic Region” project, which was conducted from 2013 to 2016 with the aim of submitting the first marine contamination and microplastic pollution and its effects on marine organisms.
Details of the four measures and implementation plan for Dubrovnik Neretva County will be presented to the public in March 2018.