Dubrovnik hosts conference on zoning Croatia's maritime area

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(Hina) - Caretaker Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets Minister Branko Bačić opened a conference on the zoning of Croatia's maritime area in Dubrovnik on Wednesday.

He said the development of the sea under Croatia's sovereignty was already defined by spatial plans.

"Now we are taking another step forward. We are beginning a serious phase of zoning the exclusive economic zone... like other EU members because that area is part of the European sea. The sea is space, and space, along with people, is our most important resource. The better we manage the maritime area, the more the country will progress."

Bačić said environmental protection, including marine protection, must be a resource for progress, not a burden on development, so as not to hinder economic growth with excessive protection measures.

"In energy, fisheries, and tourism, we must find a balance in physica planning. With the spatial plan for the exclusive economic zone, we will regulate what can happen and where in the Adriatic Sea, from navigation and fishing to the use of marine energy and spatial protection," he added.

Planning the maritime area is part of the Spatial Development Institute's activities of in complying with the EU Directive on maritime spatial planning, said Bojan Linardić, director of the Institute.

"The European Union seeks to standardise the regulation of its entire sea. The sea represents 50% of Croatia's sovereignty and is increasingly in the spotlight, both in terms of environmental protection requirements and energy needs. It will take us two years to develop a spatial plan for the exclusive economic zone," he said.

Dubrovnik-Neretva County Prefect Nikola Dobroslavić said proper management of the maritime area was in the country's interest.

"We have already issued guidelines for the integrated management of coastal areas, but that is limited to the narrower part of the sea. We are interested in assessing the entire area to determine what is beneficial for the county and the country, and also to avoid scenarios in which hydrocarbon deposits would be explored."