Croatian Aquatic Ecosystems in Danger

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Croatian waters are experiencing worrying changes to their ecosystems

The river of Neretva is undergoing a potentially damaging transformation. The salinity of river water has been increasing so much lately, the river is now populated with saltwater fish, leaving the natural fauna endangered. To make things worse, certain parts of the river have such a high salinity that the water can’t be used for irrigation anymore, reports

Climate change and global warming have had a major influence on the aquatic ecosystems of the southern Adriatic and the Dubrovnik-Neretva County. The inflow of fresh water has decreased, and the saltwater keeps entering the flow of the river due to its higher density. Saltwater fish thus keep moving deeper into the mainland, presenting a problem for Croatian fisheries.

The Adriatic Sea is experiencing a similar issue: fish species from the Mediterranean sea that only used to make an occasional appearance along the Croatian coast, now remain in the Adriatic, as the average temperature of the water is higher than it used to be.

“If you have two species in the same habitat, the stronger one will push out the weak. The best example for now is the dusky spinefoot (mramornica in Croatian), a species that’s currently populating the waters of Molunat. It assimilated without a problem, and it obviously pushed out a certain domestic species. We have yet to carry out research to establish the scope of the issue”, said Nenad, a local resident.

The Institute for Marine and Coastal Research has reported a growing number of planktonic species in the last 20 years. “At the moment, the Adriatic is witnessing a blooming population of mnemiopsis, a species similar to jellyfish. It presented a major issue in the Black Sea, endangering the local fisheries as it fed on fish roe and zooplankton, seriously disrupting the ecosystem. The same species is now thriving in the northern Adriatic”, said Rade Garić of the Institute.

It remains to see if such new species will affect the Croatian fisheries in the long run, but so far, the situation doesn’t look promising.


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