Local Forbidden from Using 'Private' Pier by American Family Living on Korčula
There’s been a lot of talk about concessions lately, but most stories had to do with concession holders banning people from using the local beaches. This time, Slobodna Dalmacija reports on a different story, one of a resident of Makarska who was prohibited from docking at a pier that’s public property – but not by a concession holder.
Individuals who rent out their apartments during summer often hang a sign saying ‘private beach’ on a piece of maritime property that’s not even close to private. According to the Maritime Code, all maritime property apart from military bases is considered public, and you can’t be banned from any beach in Croatia, just as you can’t be forbidden to dock at a pier in front of someone’s house. That second example is exactly what happened in the port of Uš on Korčula island.
A local named Željko Puharić departed from Makarska and set off for a seven-day cruise on the Adriatic on his privately owned yacht, accompanied by his wife. He said he’s been sailing for more than 30 years, always loyal to Korčula as a part of his itinerary.
After he arrived to the island and tried to dock in a marina that was completely full, Puharić went to a local police station and the Port Authority Korčula to report his arrival. He was met with closed offices at both locations, so he called the Port Authority and got no reply. After that, he sailed to the port of Uš, where he found an available berth at a pier located in front of a couple of privately owned houses.
That’s when the drama started. An American family that resides in one of the houses approached Mr Puharić and demanded he move his boat. He explained the pier is considered maritime property, and unless they built the pier themselves and held concession over it, they couldn’t forbid him from mooring at that particular location.
Members of the American family – father, mother and son – started to insist he leave, as the boat bothered them. After their other son joined in the fight and untied one of the ropes tying the boat to the pier, Puharić saw that as an offence of the maritime laws and called the police.
The police took his statement and talked to the family who claimed they didn’t know about the Maritime Code – more than likely, as the ever-changing laws and regulations can be a challenging maze even for us Croats. The police informed the family about the regulations on maritime property, warning them they have no right to forbid anyone from docking at the pier ever again.
Puharić left the Uš port and sailed to the bay of Lumbarajsko Račišće. “I moved the boat because I wasn’t sure if the family members would damage our boat or attack us at night, which would later be impossible to prove. The Croatian coast belongs to everyone, it cannot be private, but people claiming parts of the coast are a problem I often see on the Adriatic. I’m wondering, how is it possible for an American citizen to cause trouble for a Croatian citizen when he wants to find a place to berth? Why do I have to argue in English in my own country in order to get my lawful rights?”
No one can answer that question properly, but it seems that state of ours is making it as hard as possible for anyone to get their rights, be it foreigners or Croats…