Cablegate: Croatia Struggles to Decouple Fishing Zone And

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: (A) ZAGREB 1077 (B) ZAGREB 1737


1. (SBU) Croatia,s Fishing and Environmental Protection Zone
(FEPZ) will enter into force in the Adriatic Sea on October
3. It will not apply to EU member states, thanks to a
political concession Croatia made in the run-up to a decision
on its EU candidate status in June (ref A). Despite GoC
efforts to decouple the FEPZ from the long-running maritime
boundary dispute with Slovenia, the October 3 start date --
coincidentally also the date of Slovenian Parliamentary
elections -- comes just as renewed tensions on the maritime
boundary had begun to settle (ref B).

2. (SBU) The FEPZ foreshadows how Adriatic fishing rights
will be shared once Croatia joins the EU, as EU member states
enjoy access to each other's fishing zones within negotiated
quota limits, but neither the FEPZ nor EU accession will help
solve the maritime boundary problem. Unfortunately, the
clear legal distinction between the FEPZ and the maritime
boundary is lost on most reporters and more than a few
politicians, making it likely that FEPZ enforcement could
refuel anxieties on the maritime boundary just as cooler
heads have begun to prevail. END SUMMARY AND COMMENT.

--------------------------------------------- ------

3. (SBU) Croatia's Fishing and Environmental Protection Zone
(FEPZ), which enters into force October 3, 2004, will not
apply to EU-flagged vessels pending conclusion of a fisheries
partnership agreement between Croatian and the EU. Under the
FEPZ regime, Croatia will have authority only to interdict
non-EU flag vessels fishing in the zone, which according to
our MFA contacts includes a small number of mostly Korean and
Japanese-flagged vessels. Italian vessels, the primary cause
of over-fishing, will not be affected by the FEPZ.

4. (SBU) However, Croatia currently has neither immediate
plans nor capacity to enforce the FEPZ. Commenting on recent
press reports that Croatia's nascent coast guard will ensure
enforcement starting on October 3, MFA,s Head of Department
for EU Politics told Emboffs September 30 that the FEPZ would
not be enforced for "some months" after its official start
date. A special office of the PM will be created to oversee
enforcement and must first establish clear rules of conduct
before interdictions can begin. The FEPZ would in no way
affect innocent passage or the safe passage of military
vessels. The MFA legal department informed Emboffs the FEPZ
was fully compliant with Croatia's treaty obligations under
the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

5. (U) Croatia and Slovenia agreed in 1996 to allow limited
fishing rights in each other,s territorial waters without
fear of interdiction. In 2002, both Ministers of Interior
agreed to a temporary but renewable suspension of
interdiction of each other,s flagged vessels provided police
were notified in advance. According to the MFA legal
department, the GoS informed Croatia in early 2004 that it
would not be able to renew this non-interdiction agreement
after EU accession, as fisheries is an exclusive EU

6. (SBU) Since May 2004, local press has routinely reported
on Slovenian police interdiction of Croatian-flagged vessels
and police escorts for Croatian fishing vessels operating
near the GoC-proposed maritime boundary, irking both sides
but doing little to explain how fishing rights actually work.
The MFA and Ministry of Interior are in close contact over
each interdiction; MFA maintains a map showing logged
incidents of Slovenian vessels in what are claimed to be
Croatian territorial waters -- incidents effectively
following the territo

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