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NewsMontenegro cannot close chapters in negotiations with the EU until they build...

Montenegro cannot close chapters in negotiations with the EU until they build fishing ports

In 2018, Montenegro signed a loan agreement with the World Bank (WB) for the implementation of the MIDAS 2 project, which, among other things, planned activities for the potential construction of a fishing harbor (the place of the first landing of fish) in Ulcinj, Bar and Herceg Novi, but eventual the beginning of the works on the construction of the port is not even in sight. This stems from the response of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management (MAFWS), which was delivered to the News.

The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, Vladimir Joković, confirmed at the recent session of the Government that Montenegro cannot close chapters in negotiations with the European Union (EU) until they build fishing ports. He said that one port should be in Ulcinj, while the other should be located in Bar or Boka Kotorska. The minister also pointed to the problem that local authorities prefer to see tourist resorts in certain locations instead of fishing ports.

Chapter 13-Fisheries deals with the issue of the construction of fishing ports and it was opened at the Intergovernmental Conference in Brussels on June 30, 2016. Within this chapter, Montenegro has the obligation to fulfill two final benchmarks, the first of which is to adopt a legislative framework that ensures a significant degree of compliance with the EU acquis in the field of fisheries and to ensure that it is able to fully implement the Common Fisheries Policy after accession . The second criterion envisages that the state significantly strengthens the administrative, inspection and control capacities required by the Common Fisheries Policy and to ensure that the EU’s inspection and control requirements will be fully met on the day of accession.

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The Ministry of Agriculture said that the value of the MIDAS 2 project is EUR 30 million, and with the annex to the loan agreement, its duration has been extended until the end of June 2025. They did not specify whether Montenegro will lose that money if it does not fulfill its part of the obligations by that date.

The ministry said that the MIDAS 2 project envisages improving the competitiveness of the agriculture and fisheries sector and that the project was conceived with the aim of providing support to Montenegro in fulfilling several special criteria for EU chapters 11, 12 and 13, which relate to agriculture, food safety and fishing.

Citizens stopped the construction of the port in Zelenica

The Ministry of Agriculture stated that the SB gave up support for the investment in the construction of a fishing port in Herceg Novi (Zelenika) after a public discussion organized by the local government at the end of last year.

  • At the initiative of the Municipality of Herceg Novi and after consultations with the authorities in the Municipality, the Ministry of Agriculture/Directorate of Fisheries proposed a location in Zelenica, which is state-owned, as a good location for the construction of a fishing harbor in order to solve the issue of fishing vessel connections in Boko Kotor bay. However, after a public discussion organized by the Municipality at the end of 2021, it turned out that the proposed location is not acceptable from the point of view of social impact (high resistance of the local population) and the SB gave up support for this investment – this department clarified.

When it comes to the construction of the port in Ulcinj (Cape Đeran), the ministry states that the implementation of activities on the preparation of an environmental and social impact assessment for the new fishing port on Velika Plaža – Cape Đeran is underway, but that due to the coronavirus pandemic, significant delay in the start of the project.

  • The planned deadline for the completion of the activity is the end of 2022. In order for the process to end positively, strong support and coordination with the Municipality is now needed. In the event that the study is resolved positively, it is possible to ask for additional funding from the SB, whether a port can be built on that site and to what extent – the ministry states.

Urgent approval of the Government for Marina Bar

As for the fishing port in Bar, the ministry explained that the MIDAS 2 project, according to preliminary estimates from 2018, allocated 1.9 million EUR for the reconstruction and equipping of GAT 9 in Marina Bar, where fishing boats are currently moored.

However, the Ministry of Agriculture emphasizes that since the beginning of the project (2018) until today there has been no progress regarding the decision on the reconstruction of GAT 9, by the end of the year the Government must make a decision on the reconstruction, because otherwise the money intended for for ports to be redirected for the other two components of the MIDAS 2 project.

  • At this moment, the Government’s decision on the reconstruction of GAT 9 within the Marine Bar would enable a significant shift for the fishing sector and fishermen who, in addition to safe connections, would get the possibility of storing and processing fish and all other logistics that follow the chain of traceability of fish catches… The capacity of the planned the port has 20 berths for vessels from 10 to 40 meters and 50 berths for vessels up to 10 meters – the ministry stated.

In this department, they pointed out that if the state wants to use all available fish resources, of which it currently uses around 20 percent, it is necessary to solve the issue of land infrastructure as soon as possible, that is, to build at least three fishing ports with all the accompanying facilities.

They also point out that it is important to determine the places where they would be built in the pre-accession phase.

  • At the moment of accession to the EU, numerous funds will be available to us, so the construction of ports will be possible with money from the mentioned funds… Also, in the coming period, it is necessary to strengthen the fishing fleet, raise awareness for organizing and joining fishermen in producer organizations, cooperatives, cooperatives or clusters, create conditions on land for storing and processing fish and allocate significant money to make the fishing sector efficient and competitive on the domestic and EU markets – the ministry stated.

Fishermen on the brink of existence, which calls into question the survival of the sector

The ministry believes that fishermen in Montenegro are on the brink of existence, which calls into question the survival of the entire sector.

  • Fishing at sea represents an economic branch that is of great importance for the economic development of the population of coastal municipalities. Currently, commercial fishing at sea is carried out by nearly 300 registered fishermen, for whom the catch of fish and other marine organisms is the main and only source of income. In addition to commercial fishing, sport-recreational fishing is also very common, which, according to estimates, is carried out daily by over 200 domestic individuals and tourists.

They explain that commercial fishermen, who carry out this activity in a legal way, are faced with great difficulties, such as the absence of the necessary land infrastructure (fishing port, cooling chambers for maintaining the catch, devices for producing ice and other modern devices for monitoring, control and management records of fishing activities), high fuel prices, lack of domestic labor force, lack of organized purchase and placement of fish, high prices of moorings in existing ports, high prices of points of sale in markets, poaching…

  • Based on these facts, we can conclude that registered commercial fishermen are not able to realize economic profit from catching fish and properly fulfill their tax and other obligations arising from this activity. Fishermen in Montenegro are on the brink of existence, which calls into question the survival of the entire fishing sector – they say, local media reports.
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