Parliament debates Coast Guard bill

Zagreb - MPs on Wednesday debated the draft of a new Coast Guard law which is being adopted after 12 years and regulates all issues pertaining to the functioning of the Coast Guard, the monitoring and protection of rights and interests, and authority for inspections at sea.

The bill regulates action in the monitoring of maritime fishing, navigation safety, and the protection of the sea environment, nature and cultural heritage, said Tomislav Ivić, state secretary at the Defence Ministry.

The passage of the bill will represent a further enhancement of the homeland security system as well as strengthening cooperation between state authorities at sea. For manpower and logistics, the Coast Guard relies on the Navy.

The sea is important for economic development, so attention is paid to sustainable management and the protection of marine resources under Croatia's sovereignty, Ivić said.

Nikola Grmoja of the opposition Bridge party said that those in power, instead of declaring the Ecological and Fisheries Protection Zone, were now saying that the Adriatic Sea was an EU sea to mask the inaction of the Foreign Ministry and the government.

He said Italian fishermen were often caught in Croatian waters because Croatia's governments tried to be on good terms with everybody. An efficient Coast Guard is necessary because of pollution threats, illegal fishing, smuggling and terrorism, he added.

Hrvoje Zekanović of the opposition Sovereignists said Croatia had given up over 23,000 square kilometres of economic zone in the Adriatic.

"We haven't taken what is ours, unlike 141 countries, including those without sea access such as Hungary and Switzerland," he said, adding that this cost Croatia over €200 million a year and was the price of EU membership.

Author: Hina