The Ecological and Fisheries Protection Zone (Croatian: Zaštićeni ekološko-ribolovni pojas, ZERP) is a protected fishing area over Croatia's Exclusive Economic Zone.
ZERP was initiated by the Croatian Peasant Party, then a member of Croatia's governing coalition. It was proposed to the Croatian Parliament by the Croatian Government of Ivica Račan and voted in favor of on October 3, 2003, and came into effect exactly one year later, excluding European Union member states. The government informed the United Nations Secretariat of the decision prior to the 2004 enactment of the zone. On January 1, 2008 the zone came into full effect as it began to be enforced for EU nations.
The zone has an area of 23,870 square kilometres. The exact boundaries of the zone date back to treaties between what was then SFR Yugoslavia and Italy in 1968 and between Croatia and FR Yugoslavia in 2001. Prior to ZERP's declaration, Italian ships annually caught 300 million euros worth of fish from the zone - ten times the amount which Croatian ships caught. In its enactment of the zone, the Croatian Government also cited the danger of the Prestige oil spill being repeated on the Croatian Adriatic, which would seriously affect the country's tourism industry.
The zone has widespread support in Croatia. All major political parties support the zone, including the Social Democratic Party, Croatian Peasant Party, and Democratic Centre. The Croatian Democratic Union has been a cautious supporter, wary of the EU's response.
In 2008, Luigi Giannini, leader of Italian fisherman organization Federcoopesca, has declared that 1/3 of all Italian fishing activity is coming from ZERP.
In the negotiations with the European Union, it was in 2011 decided that Croatia can proclaim an ecological protection zone for third countries, but not also for the countries of the European Union. About 40% of all the catchment of Slovenian fishermen originates from the zone.
On 10 March 2008, the HDZ-led government decided not to enforce ZERP for EU members from 15 March 2008 onwards.
So far no ship has been caught within the zone. However, on January 3, 2008, the Croatian Navy intercepted an Italian boat which had passed through the zone and was actually in Croatian territorial waters. The fishing boat was escorted to Vis by a Navy warship and the three fishermen were arrested.
On February 6, 2008, the Turkish cargo ship UND Adriyatik caught fire just outside the Zone. According to the Croatian media, it was seen as a test for the ZERP.
^ a b Protected Ecological Fishery Zone: Now or Never
^ Enactment of ZERP for members of EU
^ Size of ZERP is 23,870 square kilometres
^ Protection of the Sea and Interests
^ a b Croatia seizes Italian boat days after fishery zone comes into force
^ Decision on the Extension of the Jurisdiction of the Republic of Croatia in the Adriatic Sea, 3 October 2003
^ Support for fishermen and ecological zone
^ Croatia's new cabinet may be formed by year end
^ Lider Press on Croatian
^ Croatian government gives up ZERP for sake of EU accession talks (SETimes.com)
^ Croatia gives up ZERP (SETimes.com)
^ Specijalci s Kurska gase požar unutar plamtećeg broda - Jutarnji.hr
Decision on the Extension of the Jurisdiction of the Republic of Croatia in the Adriatic Sea, 3 October 2003
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