Page last updated at 15:32 GMT, Friday, 4 January 2008

EU warns Croatia in fishing row

Map of Croatian coast

The EU presidency says Croatia's progress towards joining the bloc is under threat because of a fishing zone which came into force this week.

Croatia says the protected zone off its Adriatic coast is intended to preserve fishing stocks and reduce pollution.

But Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, whose country holds the presidency, says Zagreb is breaking EU rules which it agreed to adopt.

Brussels had already warned of negative consequences if the zone went ahead.

Mr Jansa told a news conference: "It is the custom in Europe to comply with all agreements reached, and if you don't like the agreement, you seek consensus to change it.

"You can't just revoke such an agreement unilaterally," he said.

Italian incident

Tensions were heightened on Thursday when the Croatian navy intercepted an Italian fishing boat in Croatia's territorial waters.

Although the trawler was not inside the protected zone, police said it had been fishing illegally and it was escorted to a port on the island of Vis.

On Friday, the captain and two crewmen were fined by a judge on the island and told they could not return to Croatia for a year.

Zagreb cites overfishing by Italian trawlers as the main reason for implementing the zone which covers 57,000 sq km (22,800 sq miles) of territorial waters.

It says Croatia loses 300m euros (219m) each year, and complains that Italy's annual catch of 200,000 tonnes is 10 times the size of its own.

Croatia provokes EU fishing row
31 Dec 07 |  Europe
Country profile: Croatia
22 Dec 07 |  Country profiles

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