Fishermen are looking for moorings in Meljina

In 2019, the investor "Imperio Holding Limited" submitted a request to turn this location into a nautical tourism port. The Ministry of Transport says that the conditions for this have been met and that the Government urgently needs to make a decision on this case. The fishermen claim that the investor did not honor the contract with the Government and provided them with moorings in the port of "Lazure"

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Photo: Private archive
Photo: Private archive
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

The port of "Lazure" in Meljina could become a port of nautical tourism-marina because from the perspective of the competence of the Ministry of Transport and Maritime Affairs, all conditions are met and there are no legal obstacles, which is why we will soon refer this issue to the Government for consideration.

This was officially told to "Vijesta" by the ministry he heads Filip Radulović.

Nevertheless, local fishermen in Herceg Novi claim that for years they have been asking for permits to moor ships in this place, that the investor "Imperio Holding Limited" did not comply with the contract with the Public Enterprise for the Management of the Sea, that is, he did not build a fishing port and provide them with moorings, which is why as they claim, handed the case over to the Special State Prosecutor's Office (SDT) in 2021.

The Ministry of Transport clarified that the initiative to declare "Lazura" a port of this type was submitted by the investor "Imperio Holding Limited" in March 2019, which built the resort of the same name at that location in Herceg Novi. In 2016, this company signed a contract for Morski dobro, according to which the construction and equipping of a nautical tourism port as well as a fishing port is planned in the "Lazure" pier. The investor was obliged to build at least 156 moorings, of which he could use 50 and bill them as commercial, while the rest of the moorings would belong to the residents of the Meljine settlement.

The company later requested the transformation of this port into a marina, but the Ministry of Agriculture gave a negative opinion because the planning documentation was not respected, i.e. a fishing port with 106 berths was not built. "Vijesti" expects answers from the investors and the hotel and marina "Lazure", which were sent to them regarding this case.

The berths are also for the locals of Meljina

The Ministry of Transport clarified that they formed a working group, which in June 2019 inspected the port and documentation and determined that all conditions were met, that in accordance with the Regulation on ports classified according to the type of maritime traffic, purpose and importance, "Lazure" can be declared as a marina of local importance, open to inland traffic.

"Due to possibly open issues, which are not within the competence of the Ministry of Transport, a decision has not yet been made determining the purpose of this port as a port of nautical tourism. Bearing in mind that in the previous period the Government did not make appropriate decisions classifying this port as a marina, the investor "Imperio Holdings Limited" initiated a dispute before the Administrative Court, which ended with a decision on November 23, 2022. By the disposition of the aforementioned verdict, the Ministry of Capital Investments (the legal predecessor of the Department of Transport) was ordered to decide on the plaintiff's request for classification of the "Lazure" marina as a nautical tourism port without delay, and no later than within 15 days from the date of receipt of the verdict. from this ministry.

They state that in April 2024, they nominated this topic for consideration again, but that the process was postponed due to open issues. They added that within their competences, all the prescribed conditions for the port to be classified as a marina are met and that the issue of the status of fishermen should not further delay the adoption of the Government's decision because these would be other procedures, which are also prescribed by the decree. As they said, the department is not responsible for fishermen's issues, but decides upon the request of the investor and only within those limits. They are also not responsible for ports of local importance, nor do they have a contract with the investor to be able to appreciate its fulfillment, by which the sea property was ceded for the construction of the resort.

"Analyzing the complete documentation related to the assignment of a part of the harbor for the needs of communal moorings, we point out that the relevant documentation plans a certain number of moorings for the needs of the settlement, i.e. the residents of the Meljina settlement, and not exclusively for fishermen. If there are certain open issues at the level of other departments, they need to be resolved in separate procedures, which will not jeopardize the fulfillment of the legal obligation that the port be designated according to its purpose, and which will also mean the execution of the judgment from December 2022", they pointed out from this department.

The investor is in breach of contract

Fishermen claim that the agony of getting moorings in this port has been going on since 2017, so they want to be allowed to moor ships until Herceg Novi gets a fishing port. The National Association of Fish Producers and the Association of Professional Fishermen at Sea announced that according to the contract that the investor concluded with the state, fishermen and local residents, 116 moorings must be given up along with built logistics.

"The Russian investor does not respect the obligations from the contract, but no one from the executive power of Montenegro is trying to oblige him to do so or to terminate the concession contract due to non-compliance with the contract. So far, we have addressed all the ministries that are important for this contract. No one ever answered us and no one stood up to protect the fishermen and the interests of Montenegro. The only one is the Minister of Agriculture Vladimir Jokovic and the Directorate for Fisheries stood in the protection of the state, and they demand and do not give up that the contract be respected as a whole and provide the fishermen with berths", said the fishermen.

These associations also ask what will happen to the state's contracts with investors if they are not binding and if they are not respected. They also claim that they submitted the case to the SDT in July 2021, but that they have not received answers or solutions to date, even though the case was handled by four special prosecutors. They also point out that they turned to the president of the Herceg Novi municipality for help to Stevan Katić, but that they did not refuse him an answer or a meeting either. They point out that they hired a lawyer, in order to try to solve the problems and get compensation for the last seven years in the civil proceedings.

In addition, they also claim that the acting general director of the Maritime Directorate of the Department of Transport Maja Mijušković, is trying to give the investor permission to rename the port into a marina, while the fishing port will only be after the construction of logistics for that type of port.

Nothing without fishing ports

Fishermen also believe that no one informed the European Union (EU) about the state of fisheries in Montenegro and claim that the destruction of domestic commercial fishing has been going on for 15 years. They also asked how chapter 13 will be closed for fisheries, if Montenegro does not have these ports built.

As they say, fishing with trawls and purse seines will disappear, because the fishing will be done by the EU fleet since the fish resources are common in that alliance. That is why it is necessary to rebuild fleets and build fishing ports in Ulcinj, Bar, and in Budva, set aside five places for commercial fishing boats.

"What IBAR is for the state, it is a fishing port for fishermen. There is no representative of fishermen in the working group for chapter 13 to warn the EU about the situation in the fisheries. Montenegro has enormous resources for commercial fishing of blue fish (sardine and anchovy), as well as white fish (hake, mullet), which, unfortunately, are not exploited. Commercial fishing with trawls and purse seines is not promoted and invested in, but small commercial fishing with boats of 4 to 10 meters in length is being forced", the fishermen claim and add that this is a product of the ignorance of those who are supposed to develop the sector.

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