Two days before the launch of Eni Novatek seismic hydrocarbon exploration vessel in our submarine, the Montenegrin public is silent. The state institutions responsible for the protection of the environment are not advertised, the Institute of Marine Biology and the Department of Hydrometeorology and Seismology are involved in the process and do not want to talk about the potential consequences of the domain of science. Fishermen are negotiating the amount of compensation for the benefits that will be spent on them during the research. Citizens denied support from the media are trying to call for reason. The FB group SOS for Montenegro was launched.
-In Montenegro, the destruction of rivers and numerous other natural resources is underway. That's why our SOS is not just for the Adriatic, but SOS for Montenegro, explains the initiator of FB Group SOS for Montenegro, Mirsad Kurgaš from Bar. The Montenegrin public is not aware of potential risks, and the entire process of research and exploitation of submarine resources is covered by state secrets.
- For all the information, the state institutions send us to the Agency for Hydrocarbons, which was established by the Government of Montenegro when the concession process for the Adriatic Sea exploration began. I will only remind the director of that agency since its founding is Mr Vladan Dubljević, who last year, with another 16 people, was charged with abuse of official position. He was, of course, frankly exempted and allowed to defend himself from liberty, says Kurgaš, without prejudging the guilty, but pointing to a very tricky network that makes the decision to access exploration and exploitation of fossil fuels. About the far-sightedness of the consequences of such a decision on nature and all segments of life in the coastal zone citizens do not have any information and have all the right to know.
At a time when Montenegro, in the context of alignment with the EU legal framework, has opened the Negotiating Chapter 27 on fisheries, it is precisely the fishermen who could have been the last line of defense of the Adriatic ecosystem. However, the Association of Commercial Fishermen, in Mirsad Kurgaš's words, runs the battle in the second plan:
- The oil company offered this organization 130,000 Euros to compensate for lost profits for what time they will not be able to spend on the sea, 45 days for research going on from November 1. It was, above all, strange to me that fishermen accepted the conversation on this topic. However, as I was informed, they even went out with the offer, asking the oil company to pay 1,200,000 Euros. I was fraught with the fact that someone was able to trade with something that he lived from, especially with something to be left to future generations, Krugaš emphasized.
Within the SOS Montenegro campaign, a group of citizens launched a petition for a moratorium on further exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons from the Montenegrin part of the Adriatic, which is available on the campaign's FB website. Also, in order to draw the attention of citizens to the danger of the process, we are entering, they intend to organize a protest walk from Ulcinj to Herceg Novi soon.
As a reminder, the Government of the Republic of Croatia tried the same model, without informing and consulting citizens, to approach the same job. However, after two years of comprehensive campaigns by national and international environmental organizations and with the support of experts, they have been able to exert pressure and oblige the state to give up its plans. After receiving all the information the state intended to hide, the Croatian citizens, in a percentage of more than 70 percent, said no! They did not agree to an industry that would destroy fisheries, tourism, agriculture and many other activities from which the coastal area of the country lives. And international practice says there’s no coexistence of the oil industry on one, and tourism and fisheries on the other hand.