Will Croatia protect its submarine through “no take” zones? There is no diving tourism without fish

first_imgDark or fish? / Photo: Pexels.com Underwater protection so-called. “No take” zones would make Croatian diving tourism much more attractive, and the benefits would be felt by everyone, from diving schools to fishermen and local communities. “As a diving destination, we are mostly complained that you cannot see fish in our seabed and that is a fact. We have the example of our neighboring Italy, which was also completely devastated, but they decided to protect several zones, which led to a real tourist boom. Today, in one such zone, Portofino, diving is 3,5 times more expensive than in Croatia. In our country, the average price of a dive is around 25 euros, and with them around 70”, Points out the president of the Diving Tourism Association of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce Vedran Dorušić, adding that we in Croatia should also protect certain zones because they would quickly become attractive for diving tourism and attract more guests.  How much money diving tourism actually brings is shown by the example of Egypt, which has become one of the leading diving destinations in the world with its smart underwater protection policy. Today, the diving attraction and wreck of the sunken ship SS Thistlegorm brings them more revenue than the pyramids at Giza. Photo: Pexels.com The establishment of a “no take” zone with the aim of protecting the underwater world would flourish diving tourism, according to the gathered members of the Diving Tourism Association of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce. Photo: Pexels.com These are small protected areas, of a few square kilometers, which do not have to be in an important fishing zone, but must be suitable for spawning. This is determined in agreement with biologists, and once established, they regenerate very quickly and become known to them.  It is a special form of protection that completely prohibits any exploitation of the seabed for the protection of ecosystems and cultural assets, and they have proven to be excellent in preserving biodiversity, but also in economic development. As Dorušić points out, numerous scientific studies, from the Mediterranean to the Pacific Ocean, show that biomass in protected areas is on average 670 percent higher than in neighboring unprotected areas. Fish from protected areas live longer and are much larger than specimens from the surrounding unprotected sea, and it could be the secret of rapid population recovery in size. Namely, research has shown that larger specimens of fish produce much more eggs. Thus groupers 50 centimeters in size produce about a million eggs, while only ten centimeters larger females produce about 3 million. When asked if Croatia has such attractive diving locations, Dorušić believes that we have many such locations, in fact, that we are certainly number one in Europe, and even in the top of the world in terms of the number of wrecks in the sea that have attractiveness and historical importance. “But the problem is that apart from that iron you don’t see a niche, there are no fish, while in other similar locations you can see huge groupers and teeth coming to you and not afraid of the diver. It attracts people, but we are not yet sufficiently aware of how much wealth we have, so it happens that people drop anchors in locations where we have shipwrecks that are cultural assets.”, Explains Dorušić, noting that the protection of selected areas would quickly restore the fish stock, which would immediately attract divers.  This type of protection usually encounters resistance from small fishermen, but it is actually great news for them because with the renewal of the fish stock comes the effect of the so-called. overflowing fish into adjacent areas where hunting is allowed. Again, everything is in education and communication and such an important synergy with the local population, and in this case with local fishermen.  And a larger number of guests is good news for everyone because they are mostly tourists of higher purchasing power who spend only one fifth (18 percent) of their budget on diving, while the rest is spent on accommodation, food, souvenirs, etc. So, with four fifths of the budget they strengthen the economy of the local community, and as they come a little earlier than the peak season and stay longer, like boaters, they extend the tourist season. “Today, with the help of video surveillance and ultrasound probes, you can see in real time what is happening in protected locations and alert the competent services, so that the problem of control can no longer be an excuse. After all, according to the experience of other countries, no special protection is needed, because most of these zones are guarded by divers themselves and they report to the police if devastation occurs. “, explains Dorušić and points out that in tourism it is most difficult to fight the competition by doing what everyone else knows, such as renting rooms and apartments.  It is unfortunate that in the 21st century, the digital age where we have all the information and decades of tourism, we have to talk about this topic today and that we have not been leaders in this segment for a long time. Or at least systematically engaged in the development and “fought” to be at the top, both the protection of our seabed and the development of diving tourism. Whatever segment we touch in tourism, we have chaos, which is just another proof that more and more is happening to us more and more spontaneously, and that there is not so much key strategic and sustainable development of tourism and tourist destinations. “You have a great example of New Zealand where small-scale fishermen fought against bans in protected areas, and today they insist on establishing more protected zones because they have better catches in the surrounding areas.”, Emphasizes Dorusic, adding that the problem is in the competent institutions, which have always referred to the problem of supervision, under the pretext – what if we declare it a protected zone, and we can not control it.  “But when you have a product that is different, more interesting and more specific, like diving, then it is not so difficult to reach the guests and you will always be filled. We need to fight for the protection of the seabed because it brings benefits to all, and if we do not do it ourselves, no one else will do it for us”, Concludes Dorušić.   Yes, we definitely need the protection of our submarine as well as the “no take” zone, as the first basis for strategic development in general. We are late again, if not more then at least 10 years, and we are still not dealing with challenges, but we are still just talking. While we are not engaged in development and stagnation, others are growing, and the jazz between the successful and us is getting bigger and bigger.last_img

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