Like so many (so, so many) other things, you need to have a state-issued permit to fish in Croatia.
It has been so for a while now, if you wanted to fish in Croatia from your boat or from the shore, you had to get yourself a permit. They weren’t really cheap, but hey, most tourists are not doing the fishing for profit (I mean, who ever really catches anything? See photo below) but for fun and we’ve just learned where to go, who to look for and ask to buy the permits. There was the yearly option, the daily, the weekly, there was the extremely confusing division into sports fishing and recreational fishing (never did figure that one out myself, but supposedly the difference is mostly in the underwater gun use), but all in all, you just gave the Agriculture Ministry some money, and you could fish. The yearly option was supposed to be only for the Croatian citizens, while the foreigners could only apply for the shorter permits, and that was a point of contention, as Slovenians complained about that to the European Commission, stating that it’s inequality, and the Commission took their side, ordering Croatia to stop that practice.
Last year’s orada with recent Croatian Pet of the Month
So, they did. And it’s not that simple any more.
What’s happened this year is somewhat confusing, as late last year the new Ordinance on the sports and recreational fishing came into power. There are several major changes in it, including the obligatory marking of the fish caught while sports/recreational fishing, but more importantly the new Ordinance said that it’s possible to apply for and receive the yearly permit BEFORE MARCH 1st ONLY. It’s obvious that this deadline is a direct hit at Slovenian tourists who spend their summers in Croatia and want to fish, and now the Croatian state has made it extremely difficult for them to purchase the quite affordable yearly permits (350 or 500 kuna for most people). In the process, they made it difficult for a lot of their own citizens as well, author if this article included, but nevermind that, now everyone will have to buy one, three or seven day permits, costing 60, 150 or 300 kuna (yes, you read that right, I’m not wrong here: one week permit costs just a bit less than one year’s permit!) in order to be allowed to drop your lines into the Adriatic and most probably not catch anything.
And if you think, “Ah, whatever, not like anyone is going to be checking on this, and I’ve never before seen a person asking for a permit to fish”, the Ministry is more than happy to report that they’ve authorised 160 more inspectors, specifically to inspect the sports/recreational fishing. So, don’t count on just getting by without a permit, and if you have one and are audited, the inspectors might ask you about the size of the fish you caught, as well as if you’ve marked them properly. According to the new Ordinance, fish belonging to any of the types listed below (as ones with size limits) plus the ones in the following list, should be marked by cutting of their tail fin, as shown in the photo below, and give you hefty fines if you’re not by the book – with the fine for fishing without the permit might be as high as 2000 kuna!
Dicentrarchus labrax – European bass
Diplodus puntazzo – Sheephead bream
Diplodus sargus – Sargo
Diplodus vulgaris – Two-banded sea bream
Epinephelus spp. – in Croatia you can most often find Epinephelus marginatus, yellowbelly grouper
Lithognathus mormyrus – Sand steenbras
Merluccius merluccius – European hake
Pagellus erythrinus – Common pandora
Pagrus pagrus – Red porgy
Polyprion americanus – Atlantic wreckfish
Sparus aurata – Gilt-head bream
Zeus faber – John Dory
And as far as the sizes go, you’re allowed to keep the fish (and other sea creatures) that are at least this big:
|Latin Name||Croatian Name||English Name||Size|
|Dentex dentex||zubatac||Common dentex||30 cm|
|Mustelus asterias||pas mekaš||Starry smooth-hound||80 cm|
|Seriola dumerili||gof||Greater amberjack||45 cm|
|Sarda sarda||palamida||Atlantic bonito||45 cm|
|Sciaena umbra||kavala||Brown meagre||30 cm|
|Scorpaena scrofa||škrpina||Red scorpionfish||30 cm|
|Spondyliosoma cantharus||kantar||Black seabream||18 cm|
|Squalus acanthias||kostelj||Spiny dogfish||66cm|
|Arca noae||kunjka||Noah’s Ark Shell||5 cm|
|Mytilus galloprovincialis||dagnje||The Mediterranean mussel||6 cm|
|Ostrea edulis||kamenica||European flat oyster||7 cm|
|Octopus vulgaris||hobotnica||Common octopus||1 kg|
While the authorities neglected to inform their citizens (and wether you want to say that’s the citizens of the European Union or just those carrying the Croatian passport is up for a debate!) that they need to get the permits on time, now it’s too late to get the yearly permit for 2018 (hopefully the insane ordinance will be modified for the 2019!), so just be warned that any recreational fishing/passing the time dunking the bait might come with a fine, because you’re seen as the main danger to the fish reserves of the Adriatic. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
[CORRECTION: Previous version of the article stated that *all* fish from the sports/recreational fishing should be marked after it’s been taken out of the sea; this version specifies the varieties of fish that need to be marked]