Lastovo Nagture Park Responds to Plastic Pollution Article

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Credit: TZ Lastovo
by Tash Pericic,

On the 12th October 2017, we received an email response from the Lastovo Tourist Board about a recent article regarding plastic pollution. The response may go down in history as one of the best replies in the Beautiful Croatia.

On the 30th September 2017, I wrote an article about the amount of plastic that was littered on the shores of Lastovo. A yacht crew anchored in the Nature Park, cleaned the beach and collected 10 large bags of rubbish, begging the question – where is the Tourist Board in all of this? Especially when visitors and yachts pay for entrance to the park.

I tried calling the “Nature Park Lastovo Islands” (Public Institution) to no avail and sent an email with the article asking if they could give me any feedback on the matter or help clarify how this is possible. If I am honest, I didn’t expect a reply, let alone a positive response considering I have been abused for writing such things before but that is exactly what I got.

Dear Tash, we are writing to you regarding your email; thank you for your concern, please don’t hesitate to contact us again…

“Lastovo Islands were declared a Nature Park on September 29, 2006, due to its outstanding beauty, immense landscape value, thick forests and fertile fields enriched with ponds, high coastal cliffs, land and sea caves and numerous rare sea and land species and habitats. The length of the coastline of the Park, which includes the main island of Lastovo and the archipelago of 45 islands, islets and rocks gives a highly indented coastline with numerous bays and secluded places accessible only from the seaside.

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Credit: TZ Lastovo

Lastovo island is the youngest declared Nature Park in Croatia, managed by the Public Institution with a small number of employees, which is a challenge in fulfilling all the tasks we are facing given that the park covers the surface of 196 km2 of which 143 km2 is the sea area.

Maintenance and cleaning of the coast and sea bottom from the marine litter, before and during the touristic season, is managed by the Public Institution “Nature Park Lastovo Islands”, Tourist Board of the Lastovo Municipality, Utility Company “Komunalac”, Lastovo Municipality, Diving Centre from Lastovo and the local community. During the season, Public Institution’s seasonal employees, besides daily obligations, clean the bays of the Park 3 – 4 times per week.

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Credit: TZ Lastovo

However, due to the indented coastline and sea currents, the problem of marine litter is continuously repeating, and during storms waves and winds deposit marine litter in almost every bay. The situation you have witnessed was certainly contributed to by the storm only a few days prior to your arrival and anchoring in the bay.

Analysis of the marine litter indicates that the majority of waste originates from neighbouring countries, Greece, Albania and Montenegro. Because of the above mentioned, the problem is unfortunately constant. Unfortunately, we need to emphasize that neither the Public Institution nor the Tourist Board are responsible or obligated for resolving this issue, but we are all aware of the seriousness of the problem and every year we are trying to solve it. The long-term solution must be sought globally. Part of the revenue from entrance fees is used for collecting marine litter, cleaning the bays and hiring seasonal employees, while the rest of the revenue is used for the purpose of protection, research, monitoring of natural and cultural values, as well as for the maintenance, active management, promotion of the area and sustainable development of the local community.

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Credit: welcome-to-croatia.com

In our work, among other activities, we are continuously working on raising ecological awareness of local community and visitors. For this purpose, we organize workshops, seminars, eco-actions and other activities that contribute to this goal. Because of all this, Public Institution feels obliged to contribute to the solution of this problem. We are happy that we have such visitors who are ecologically aware and who contribute to the common goal, and at the same time, we are very sorry because of the waste you’ve encountered. We hope that in the future, we will be able to increase the frequency of cleaning the bays and with boats adapted and intended solely for that purpose.

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Credit: Waterworld Croatia

And now, some positive data. The research of heavy metal contamination in the sediment of the coastal belt of the Lastovo island, which was carried out in 2016, indicated that sediment at selected locations (bays, harbours) is not contaminated with eco-toxic heavy metals (zinc, copper, chromium, mercury, arsenic, lead and cadmium). This research was funded by the Public Institution Nature Park Lastovo Islands and Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund. Also, the research on seawater quality carried out in the period from May to September 2017 (during the high season) on four locations of the Lastovo island (one near your place of anchoring) indicated that the quality of the sea water is excellent and that there is no visible contamination, substances, mineral fats and suspended waste substances. In addition to cleaning bays and sea bed, investments in similar research contribute to the preservation of the quality of the sea water, seabed and its flora and fauna.

Thank you and we hope you will visit again.”

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Credit: TZ Lastovo

I am actually speechless. They could have taken the opportunity to be indignant considering I wrote an article highlighting the litter and they are clearly working very hard towards positive solutions on many fronts. Yet, they took the time to inform and educate in their response and for this, I must give huge praise because this is not always typical in Croatia. Since my article, we have already written about the positive projects Lastovo is working on, including an in-depth look at their move towards eco-tourism.

Another positive that came out of the article, was an artist from Hvar – Mark Boellaard getting in touch to tell me about the art he makes from collected waste on beaches. All in all, from a negative, has arisen many positives and has left me feeling extremely hopeful.

I am emailing this article to them as we speak and a suggestion; that if waste washing ashore is a constant, given the state of plastic pollution as a global issue, perhaps there could be an incentive for yachts and visitors – if they clean an area, they get a reduced entry into the Lastovo Nature Park…worth a shot!

This has shown me that it does pay to speak up and I am extremely thankful for the people who are doing their part to make a difference.

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