Round table “Waste in the sea, who cares?” in Murter.

Datum objave: 7. April, 2023.

On Wednesday, April 5, 2023, the Jedro Community Center in Murter hosted the round table “Waste in the sea, whose care is it?”.

This round table was organized by the Argonauta association as part of the project Eco inflow to the island financed by the Fund for Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency, and through which it is planned to clean the underwater areas of the islands of Prvić, Vrgada, and Žut (where the action was already organized last fall). In addition to the clean-up campaigns, regular education for children is held on the topics of environmental protection and, as a third activity, round tables in the municipalities of the aforementioned islands.

Stakeholders who are directly connected to the area of the island of Žut were invited to this round table; representatives of shipping companies, concessionaires for waste transportation, municipal companies, the Municipality, ACI Marine, Marina Hramine, NP Kornati, Tourist Board, JU Nature Šibenik – Knin County and renters, owners and local associations.

The main topic was the very name of our round table “Litter in the sea, whose care is it?”, to which each of the participants who responded shared their opinion and point of view on this topic.

So whose responsibility is waste in the sea?

Art. 10 of the law on maritime property states that local self-government units should take care of the maritime property on their territory, but the law does not prescribe and define any responsibilities and obligations in this regard.

It seems that the inconsistency in solving this burning issue on which the health of our environment rests, followed by tourism and the economy in general, is based on this.

In general, actions to clean up waste in the sea are carried out mainly through the initiatives and voluntary work of volunteers, they are organized through projects and actions, but their implementation is often hampered by the question of who will ultimately pay for the disposal of the collected waste. The answer to this question, according to the knowledge of the participants of the round table, was not clear, because on the one hand, it is imposed as the answer of local self-government units, and on the other hand, if, for example, trawlers deliver the waste they have collected to the port, then the waste disposal should be paid for by the person who manages it with that bow.

On the third hand, for example in the Kornati National Park, they organized the regular collection of marine waste from the National Park area with their own boat, although this is not written anywhere as an obligation.

In any case, already after these few lines it can be concluded that the obligations and responsibilities related to the disposal of marine waste are not clearly set, or they are set in such a way that they are not clear to the average citizen.

Possible solutions

What was mentioned at this round table as the greatest threat to the marine environment are, first of all, nautical tourism, i.e. non-ecological and unsustainable behavior of tourists, then the absence of a sewage system, farms that make the sea smelly and greasy, mass tourism and, in general, global development and the rhythm of life which is not followed by sustainable behaviors.

The participants of the round table also gave suggestions on how to reduce the harm of this kind of behavior because, after all, a lot depends on the personal awareness and behavior of each of us individually. What could be one of the solutions is educating and informing visitors about desirable behavior – raising awareness about the problem of waste in the sea and encouraging behavior in which, for example, they will not throw food and waste or empty tanks into the sea.

A project of the Argonauta association was mentioned there, through which counters with leaflets, banners, and general information about desirable behavior were set up in marinas. On this track, marinas in Croatia could systematically launch green marketing, which would promote ecological campaigns for their visitors in such a way that they would appreciate the importance and need for this type of marketing, and that the ecological and sustainable behavior of their visitors would be at the top of their business priorities. Given that the charter industry in Croatia is one of the largest in the world, this would be a huge step in a new, sustainable direction.

Awareness of the average individual about the problem of waste in the sea

There is a lot of waste in the sea, but it doesn’t seem like a big problem to us because ordinary citizens don’t have the opportunity to see it. The participants of this round table agreed that this waste has been collected there for decades because people who lived 50 or 100 years ago used to simply throw a piece of furniture or anything else they no longer needed into the sea.

Projects as drivers of good practice

On this trail, the trawlers proved to be excellent collectors of marine waste, and through a project, they were enabled to dispose of the waste they collected, which is then disposed of in an organized manner.

The problem is that good solutions that are piloted through projects do not enter the system and do not continue to see, but mostly stop with the end date of the project and its financing. In this way, the results of these and similar projects remain unused.

The Role of the Media

The participants of this round table agreed that the media should follow the actions of cleaning up marine waste more often, and by focusing on this topic, contribute to raising the awareness of the average citizen about this problem.

We closed our round table with this thought.

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