The new Nature Protection Act (Official Gazette No. 80/2013) of Croatia establishes important changes regarding Invasive Alien Species (IAS) in Croatia by regulating the criteria for their import, trade and use, as well as their introduction into nature. The Act takes into consideration the risk assessment protocols which predict the species’ invasiveness.
Two lists will be soon made to regulate the use of IAS:
- “Black list” for alien species whose import and placement on the market will be prohibited,
- “White list” for alien species whose import and placing on the market will be permitted without restrictions.
These lists shall be updated on a regular basis. The State Institute for Nature Protection (SINP) is working on the development and coordination of the risk assessment protocols, early warning and rapid response systems. As part of an educational and awareness raising campaign, a new website on IAS has been established www.invazivnevrste.hr. This website contains the information on IAS in the Republic of Croatia and should become a part of the country’s early warning and rapid response system on IAS.
Historically, problems with IAS in Croatia have been known since the year 1910 when 11 specimens of the Small Indian Mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus) were introduced on the island of Mljet. Over a 20-year period, the mongoose population eliminated all snakes on the island and began attacking other small reptiles, mammals and birds.
Introduction of alien species in Croatia had probably started even earlier, but the biggest problems appeared in second part of 20th century. The negative impact of these spieces on habitats and native species has increased due to human activities such as trade, mobility and different economic sectors. Red books of freshwater fishes, sea fishes, amphibians and reptiles in Croatia have recognized alien species as the most important or as one of the most important threats for those groups.
In February 2012 one specimen of Signal Crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) was recorded in the river Korana, after which a rapid response was initiated. Activities were coordinated by SINP and involved the Ministry of Environmental and Nature Protection, the Faculty of Science of the University of Zagreb, the Public Institution for Governing Protected Natural Assets in the Karlovac County “Natura Viva” and volunteers from local non-governmental organizations. Different measures were undertaken, such as education and public awareness, field research and preparation of the eradication plan, and eradication action with 150 crayfish traps, done by 20 local volunteers. The main goal was to stop and control future dispersion of Signal Crayfish upstream and downstream. Eradication activities started after preliminary research was done and the area of occurrence was defined. The project will continue in future years.