The US Marine Conservation Institute has given Croatia’s Brijuni National Park the Blue Park Gold Award for the highest science-based standards of marine conservation and management, the Brijuni National Park said on Friday.
The Blue Park awards are given in recognition of efforts made by countries – managers of marine protected areas (MPAs) and local communities to preserve marine eco-systems, and they promote those protected areas and their rich marine world.
The Brijuni National Park has thus joined a growing worldwide network of 21 areas with the Blue Park status, designed to conserve and regenerate ocean biodiversity.
“It is a great honour to receive the Blue Parks Award that puts MPAs in the spotlight, their achievements on the ground and encourage them to become even more effective in ocean conservation. This award goes to our staff, communities, partners and stakeholders that make the positive changes possible,” said Marno Milotić, Brijuni National Park acting general manager.
Dr Lance Morgan, Marine Conservation Institute President, said that the new areas with the Blue Park designation would help improve the protection of the most important marine areas.
The Brijuni National Park is a perfect example of an important and biologically very diverse area to protect, especially as it contributes to resilience to climate change and protects a number of endangered species of turtles, sea mammals and important birds, he said.
The healthy eco-systems of Brijuni are home to a rich marine world that is managed and supervised by the park’s expert staff and their partners. Particularly important is the strategy of sustainable financing of MPAs. As one of the few MPAs that are financially independent, Brijuni raises significant funds for nature conservation – from visitor fees to fees from tourism activities.
Located in the northern Adriatic off the Croatian peninsula of Istria, Brijuni covers an area of 26.5 square kilometres with about 14 uninhabited islands and is a protected area.
With its long tradition of an area of special importance for biodiversity conservation, Brijuni is an important area within the Natura 2000 network.
This biodiversity hotspot is well known for its high seagrass species diversity, and the critical nursery and foraging habitat the seagrass meadows provide for the fish and invertebrates found here, the US institute says on its website.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List species such as the Bottlenose dolphins, loggerhead sea turtles, as well as a number of important bird species, frequently migrate through and nest in the Brijuni National Park, the US institute, established in 1996, says.
Twenty-one marine protected areas around the world have been given Blue Park awards so far. The Blue Park award was designed by the Marine Conservation Institute to encourage governments to protect the marine world and its critical habitats, promote resilience to climate change and protect oceans for future generations. The purpose of the programme is to establish an effective network that protects and maintains the marine world and habitats at the global level.