Croatian fishermen worry about EU rules
An English-language sign at the fishermen's pier in the Croatian town of Umag reads: "This fishing port was rebuilt with the support of the European Union".
But most of the 3,700 fishermen who ply their trade in Croatia's eastern Adriatic fear that the country's accession to the EU on 1 July, and strict new laws and regulations that come with it, may be the end of their jobs.
"I'm afraid we're in for a lot of unpleasant surprises," said Danilo Latin, whose family have been fishermen for four generations.
"We'll lose the subsidies, we'll have to change our nets, fish further from the shore, there will be more competition and new restrictions, so we're looking at harder times," he said.
Croatia's Adriatic is small and relatively shallow and fishermen use traditional nets that are not compliant with the Common Fisheries Policy, or CFP, modelled mostly on fishing in the Atlantic.
"The transition will cost me at least 100,000 kuna [€13,400] because of all the tools I will no longer be able to use. And I'll get no financial compensation," said Latin.
His complaint echoes the fears of many local fishermen, who say that successive Zagreb governments who negotiated EU entry from 2005 to 2011 did nothing to protect their interest.
"There were no negotiations whatsoever, we gained nothing through the process, we only found out that there is no alternative but to accept what had been offered," Latin said.
Croatian fisherman photo via Shutterstock.
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