Successful environmental protection depends upon professional knowledge and information as well as the availability of policymakers and the public so as to put them into practice. This project aimed to realise these objectives by implementing measures that build the capacity of non-governmental organisations working on marine conservation and improving the way NGOs work while having a positive effect on end-users. The Blue World Institute and the Association for Nature, Environment and Sustainable Development (Sunce) from Split combined their expertise to provide education, vocational training and practical field work to students, divers, fishermen and all others who live with the sea and from the sea.
A training programme for students, divers and fishermen can contribute significantly to the inventory of marine life, which is a priority under the national strategic plan biodiversity conservation. Training was conducted through workshops and field exercises and designed to contribute to the level of knowledge of marine biology as well as to the rational management of natural resources benefiting coastal communities of the Adriatic.
The project further aimed at raising public awareness to obtain support for establishing marine protected areas by organising lectures and workshops and designing a mobile exhibition which travelled around all major coastal towns and in the capital, Zagreb. An educational DVD with presentations, articles, pictures, games and quizzes on Adriatic biodiversity was prepared for schools.
These programmes focused on the two youngest marine protected areas in Croatia – Lošinj and Lastovo, but were not restricted to them; they had a broader reach to the entire population of the coast and Croatian islands, tourists and occasional users of the sea. This project was funded by the EU CARDS 2004 Programme with total support of €134,104 over 18 months.
Project activities included:
Training – sessions were organised for different groups – project coordinators, biology students, diving instructors, and divers. One important objective was to prepare for research field work and data processing, and another was to develop volunteer programmes and campaigns aimed at raising public awareness about the need to protect the sea.
Education– the project team conducted numerous lectures intended for the public andadapted to different interests and age groups. Four educational and informational brochures – on the themes “Marine mammals in the Adriatic Sea”, “Sea turtles in the Adriatic Sea”, “Lošinj Dolphin Reserve” and “Nature Park-Lastovo” were distributed. A public exhibition, titled “Let the blue stay blue” about the challenges of marine protection was designed as a mobile and flexible exhibition transferable to different spaces. The richness of biodiversity in the Adriatic Sea and the connectivity of the Adriatic Sea to marine ecosystems of the entire Mediterranean Sea were exhibited on 18 panels. Emphasis was placed on endangered species and habitats requiring active protection and information about public participation in implementing conservation measures. The exhibition opened on 4th March 2008 at the Croatian Natural History Museum and travelled to Rijeka, Split, Lastovo, Komiža, Murter, Vodnjan and Mali Lošinj.
Research in Lastovo Nature Park 2008– surveys were conducted in more than 70 locations and are updated each year. The BWI’s team was successful as a total of nine bottlenose dolphin sightings were achieved over a seven day research period. We collected large amounts of data; 79 individuals were recorded, 63 adults and 16 calves. The researchers also recorded the presence of a loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta).