June 4, 2019 - The Institute of Marine Biology from Kotor, with colleagues from the Adriatic countries, recognizes numerous projects to support this development in maintaining fishery management and marine ecosystem protection. One of these projects is the Adriatic Sea Network for the Marine Ecosystem - ADRINET. Although the archives of the Middle Ages witnessed the tradition of fishing in Boka and Ulcinj, Montenegro is today, when it comes to fisheries, still in the process of the formatting of a severe fishing fleet.
Based on the documents of the Historical Archives in Kotor, the oldest papers that focus on fisheries in this area date back to the 12th century. Once the backbone of the local population's economy, fishing is nowadays struggling to survive on numerous other incompatible activities, unfair competition, and faulty equipment with the necessary tools to make the catch rate competitive even on the domestic market. Therefore, scientists at the Institute of Marine Biology in Kotor, apart from their regular activities, participate in numerous international projects with the preservation of the fish stock of the Adriatic Sea and the strengthening of Montenegrin fishers.
The Ichthyologist Dr. Aleksandar Joksimović is the head of the Working Group on the Negotiating Chapter on Fisheries in the Process of Approximation of Montenegro to the EU. As a representative of Montenegro and Chief of the Scientific Committee of that international organization, Dr. Joksimović participated last week at a meeting in Ljubljana with a review of the activities of the General Fisheries Commission of the Mediterranean, our country joined in 2008.
"Considering that the Mediterranean and the Black Sea is a large region, we intend to be sub-regional, Montenegro is in the context of the Adriatic-Ionian region, to present opinions, views, conclusions, and suggestions regarding the work of the General Commission in the past ten years. We were obliged to send recommendations for the next ten years, as these reports will be included in the document, based on which scientists from the field of fisheries, marine biology and other spheres dealing with the protection of marine ecosystems and valorize their resources, will write their reports. That is how we are coming to a future strategy to the General Fisheries Commission of the Mediterranean. This strategy should serve to make the best way of targeting its activities, so that member states, such as Montenegro, find their place and interest in it," explained Dr. Joksimović.
The position of Montenegro on the Adriatic is specific. The small country, with only 293 km of coastline, has a small fishing fleet. Therefore, representation of Montenegro's interest in the Adriatic and Mediterranean requires that our country is looking for a different position related to the fishing giants such as Croatia and Italy.
"It is precisely the essence of the meetings, discussions, and suggestions that we have conducted in Slovenia. Our efforts are a result of the team's defined needs of our fishermen, where, besides the Institute of Marine Biology and Representation of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development - Fisheries Directorate, are also fishermen themselves, as the most important when it comes to fisheries in Montenegro and the Adriatic, of course. In Ljubljana and at all previous meetings of the working bodies of the General Fisheries Commission of the Mediterranean, we have stressed that the Commission should recognize the specificities of small countries, such as Montenegro and Slovenia when defining future recommendations or limitations of fishing activities" Dr. Joksimovic explains what it means in practice.
"All the data show that the state of fisheries in the Adriatic is not great. Along with scientific and reporting, some recommendations will be manifested by the reduction of the fleet and the overall fishing activities of the Adriatic countries. Our struggle and our goal are that Montenegro will be recognized as a small country and exempted from it."
Montenegro is a small country, which is only in the development phase of its fishing fleet, and nothing contributes to the state of the fish stock in the Adriatic as it is, says Dr. Joksimović.
"We expect the flexibility and understanding of the General Fisheries Commission of the Mediterranean, as well as the European Commission and DG Mare, to define reduction the fishing fleet in the Adriatic by 30 percent in some future documents, reduce the number of fishing days, but this does not apply to Montenegro from for objective reasons. It is a big battle; these institutions are difficult to accept because they want to bring a unique recommendation to the entire Adriatic. But we have to fight that our specificity, which is reflected in the geomorphologic configuration of the terrain and the vast depths in front of our shores, which makes our fishermen unable to work as intensely as fishers in the Middle or North Adriatic. And the Minister of Agriculture, Milutin Simović, is very dedicated to this issue and I believe that as a determined team we will succeed in contributing to the preservation of our fishing tradition, above all in Boka Bay and Ulcinj, as well as the moderate development of our fleet. We are not a competition on the Adriatic; we want to take what our sea offers to us. The estimates that the Institute for Biology made for these needs are very optimistic, and the biomass that is in front of our coasts is much more conservative and better than in the rest of the Adriatic. "
Empowering the Montenegrin fishing fleet, which currently has about 20 big fishing ships and a large number of small boats whose owners use traditional fishing techniques and tools, involves a lot of various needs and activities. The education of fishers, the provision of grants and loans for the procurement of equipment, as well as the introduction of innovative technologies, have to be of benefit to both fishermen and marine ecosystem.
ADRINET is implemented within IPA Cross Border Cooperation Italy- Albaia- Montenegro
All these goals have been combined with the cross-border project ADRINET, whose implementation began in 2018. Adriatic Network for Marine Eco System- ADRINET is a cross-border project implemented under IPA Montenegro-Italy-Albania program. ADRINET project aims to establish a better management system for coastal fishing. In Montenegro, the pilot area is the Aquatics of Herceg Novi Bay, in Albania is the area of Vlora, while the project is implemented in Italy in the Bari area.
The overall objective of ADRINET is to improve a joint coastal management system and create governance plans to preserve biodiversity and coastal ecosystems inside the Programme area, whose territories share the same issues in terms of pollution, over-exploitation of fish stocks, illegal fishery, fish sophistication and 'ghost fishing.' The project includes investments in technology, to map fishing routes and monitor sea pollution, and provides services, scientific support, and skills for fisheries professionals and consumers, to make fish consumption safer and compliant with EU rules and guidelines.
"In pilot areas, hot spots will be determined, those with the most lost fishing gear. Of course, fishers are not able to extract the lost fishing gear; it remains at the bottom of the sea still active, catching fish and other species. This project brings an excellent idea that all fishing gears are coded by installing small chips that will send signals so that all fishermen in the future can find their tools and return to the ship or coast. That way, fishers save their money, because fishing tools are costly. What's even more important is that they will always know where the devices are lost, and we will be able to clean the sea bottom of these tools. "
Within the ADRINET project, scientists from the Institute of Biology must perform and analyze the quality of fish and other organisms that are caught in the pilot area, investigating the presence of heavy metals. They will examine the presence of cadmium and the presence of pesticides in fish species, antibiotic and microplastic concentrations in some species, as well as the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the seawater and sediment of the sea bottom of Herceg Novi.