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Marine Conservation and Accession: The Future for the Croatian Adriatic

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Abstract

The European Union (EU) is the world’s largest trading bloc and the most influential supra-national organisation in the region. The EU has been the goal for many eastern European States, for Croatia accession remains a priority and underpins many of its national policies. However, entry into the EU requires certain commitments and concessions. In October 2003 the Croatian parliament declared an ecological and fisheries protection zone in the Adriatic. Under pressure the zone was suspended, finally entering into force in March 2008 exempting EU States. There are other marine conflicts between Croatia and the EU, particularly the contested maritime border with Slovenia, and the development of the Croatian fishing fleet in opposition to the Common Fisheries Policy. Conversely, attempts to harmonise Croatian Nature Protection with the EU Habitats Directive, facilitated by pre-accession funding, has galvanised conservation policy. Since 2005 two marine protected areas have been declared, significantly increasing the marine ecosystem under protection. Finally, the development of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive is the latest EU attempt to integrate environmental policy in the maritime realm. This will have an effect not only on member States but neighbouring countries. For marine nature protection to be effective in the region the Adriatic Sea needs to be viewed as a mutually important shared and limited resource not a bargaining chip. Negotiations of the EU and Croatia have been watched closely by the other Balkan States and precedents set in this case have the potential to affect EU expansion to the East.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank colleagues working in various institutions and NGOs from around the Mediterranean who made comments upon this article in previous drafts. In addition the authors would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers for their comments. Parts of this project were financed by 2006 EU PHARE programme for Croatia and The National Foundation for Civil Society Development of the Republic of Croatia, the opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the authors and can in no way be taken to reflect the views funding organisations.

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Mackelworth, P., Holcer, D., Jovanović, J. et al. Marine Conservation and Accession: The Future for the Croatian Adriatic. Environmental Management 47, 644–655 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-010-9460-z

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