Croatia: EU warns Zagreb over Adriatic fishing restrictions

Zagreb, 2 Jan. (AKI) – The European Union has warned Croatia it will damage its chances of joining the EU by setting up a protected fishing zone in the Adriatic Sea aimed at EU members Italy and Slovenia.

Croatia is involved in maritime border issues with Slovenia and alleges that Italian fishermen have taken Croatian sea fishing stocks, Croatian media reported.

Slovenia, which took over the six-month rotating EU presidency Tuesday from Portugal, said Croatia's unilateral proclamationof the protected fishing zone violated the sovereignty of Slovenia.

Applying parliamentary decision from December 2006, Croatia restricted fishing in the 57,000 square kilometers of its Adriatic coast from Tuesday, saying it was losing 300 million euros annually due to the intrusion of Italian fishermen.

Slovenian foreign minister Dimitrij Rupel was quoted as saying on Wednesday that the EU should await the formation of new Croatian government, following the 25 November parliamentary elections, before taking action against Zagreb, which had earlier promised not to apply fishing restrictions unilaterally.

Croatia's coalition government is expected to be named later this month.

 "It is essential that a solution is found... in order to avoid negative consequences for the country's EU access," said Ollie Rehn, EU commissioner for enlargement.


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