Why does the blue need the green?
Fish and other seafood products are the most traded items in the world. Although many people consider coffee, tobacco or spices as the main trading business, it is proved that the seafood is what gourmets most crave for. Coastal countries secure the part of their income by exporting their seafood products and tourists visit them for being known as gastronomic paradise for seafood specialties. One of them is Croatia. Not only our islands, coast, clear blue sea and nature are known worldwide, but also a high quality fish. However, the global trend is more than fine food, expensive local wines and 'fresh' Instagram photos of full plates (while the meal is getting cold). Increasing number of customers require a guarantee and proof that the food they consume is, except being delicious and fresh, also sustainable.
For fish and other fishery products it means that they are caught in sustainable way, or responsibly farmed (choice of fishing tools, fishing season respected, allowed catch size, quantity and quality of fish feed) Croatia is a developed country in many ways but some aspects need to be improved. Almost a year ago, one historic city brought some hope for brighter future. In the academic year 2017/2018 Department of Ecology, Agronomy and Aquaculture, University of Zadar, launched a new graduate study ‘Sustainable management of aquatic ecosystems’.
This is the first time for the whole region to have a graduate study in sustainability of fishery sector. All good things begin with an idea which sometimes seems impossible, as it was the case with this graduate programme. Apparently incompatible partners gathered together with the aim to change something in the fishery products management.
University of Zadar, Zadar County Rural Development Agency (AGRRA), Cromaris Company and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) developed the Blue Smart project, applied for EU funds and received it. Ana Zubčić, counsellor for International Cooperation and EU funds at AGRRA, explains the added value of the Blue Smart project: ’AGGRA supports new projects in fisheries. Also, one of our activities is nature conservation and sustainability, and this project perfectly fits in both concepts. At the same time, with the new study we enhance sustainable fisheries and make people aware of the importance of sustainable practice on the sea. ‘
The project results are not abstract, not buried in drawers of some Kafka character, they are tangible and usable legacy left for young people and future generations, as well as for those already employed in fishery sector. After less than two years of project implementation results are already visible. Study quotas are full and Ministry of Science and Education recognized the importance of this programme and decided to give a financial support.