Kotor, Montenegro: The Institute of Biology held the closing event of the project “Center for the Protection of Marine Biodiversity “Aquarium Boka” – MonteAqua” as a virtual meeting on December 17, 2020, which marked the successful completion of the MonteAqua project.
MonteAqua project mobilized 1,17M EUR for setting up the Adriatic Biodiversity Conservation Center “Aquarium Boka” with the first Montenegrin public aquarium and a rescue center for sea turtles and other endangered marine animals. Funds were secured through grants from the Norwegian Embassy in Belgrade of 0,75M EUR and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Montenegro of 0,37M EUR. The Aquarium Boka is the only institution in Montenegro that combines research and education to promote and practice the effective conservation of marine wildlife.
Dr. Aleksandar Joksimović, Director of the Institute of Marine Biology, University of Montenegro, welcomed all participants and pointed out that “This is a milestone event for the Institute of Marine Biology. Since its establishment in 1961, the Institute was performing comprehensive research of the marine and coastal area. Setting up our sixth organizational unit, the Adriatic Biodiversity Conservation Center “Boka Aquarium”, as a result of the MonteAqua project, will further strengthen our capacities. The Center, with the first public marine aquarium in Montenegro, will also boost our activities in creation of a wide coalition for the Adriatic protection. This Center is the best early birthday present for our 40th Anniversary which we will celebrate next year.”
On the Aquarium Boka significance, Professor Danilo Nikolić, the University of Montenegro Rector, said: “The newest organizational unit of the Institute, which we established this year, will further strengthen our capacities to preserve Adriatic ecosystems and promote our unique nature resources.”
The Aquarium Boka is established within the framework of the MonteAqua project.
Commenting on the project closure, Mr. Geir Johansen, Chargé d’affaires of The Royal Norwegian Embassy in Belgrade, said: “With Norwegian support, the project has established the only public aquarium in Montenegro, and developed capacity for the conservation of biodiversity in aquatic ecosystems in artificial conditions, which is important to secure the reproduction of endangered species”.
On behalf of Dr. Aleksandar Stijović, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management in the Government of Montenegro, Ms. Slavica Pavlović, director of Directorate for Fisheries welcomed the first aquarium in Montenegro and pointed that it “will be the main place for education about the living world of the Adriatic Sea, especially about vulnerable species that need special protection”. Ms. Pavlović confirmed that “Montenegro will remain committed to the intensive work on establishing a sustainable fishery and preserving a healthy marine ecosystem”.
Mr. Predrag Jelušić, director of Public Enterprise for Coastal Management of Montenegro spoke about the support of his institution to the project with funds for the construction of an Open-air exhibition connected to the Aquarium Boka.
Professor Vladica Simić, Head of the Center for Fisheries and Biodiversity Conservation of Inland Waters Aquarium Kragujevac, Institute of Ecology, Faculty of Science, University of Kragujevac, pointed that: “It was our pleasure to discover a new cooperation opportunity in 2017 and jointly develop project “Center for the Protection of Biodiversity of the Adriatic “Boka Aquarium” – MonteAqua” which received funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway through the grant of the Norwegian Embassy in Belgrade.”
Dr. Radoje Laušević, MonteAqua project manager, presented the main project results. He pointed out that “The Institute of Marine Biology of the University of Montenegro was implementing the MonteAqua project from November 2017. Project supported organization of several workshops in 2018, the international scientific conference in 2019, and published a series of white papers and studies which strengthen Montenegrin capacities in management and protection of the Adriatic Sea resources. The main project output is Aquarium Boka, the first Montenegrin public aquarium which showcases the diversity and importance of marine wildlife with a particular focus on the Adriatic Sea. It is expected that Aquarium Boka will open doors for public visits in the first half of 2021.”
Dr. Mirko Đurović, head of the Adriatic Biodiversity Protection Center “Aquarium Boka” pointed out that “the Aquarium Boka will be an added value to the tourist offer of the city of Kotor and Montenegro. We will try to show all the splendor and richness of the living world of the Adriatic Sea, and we will prepare a series of educational programs for the youngest generations in order to educate future ecologists and nature lovers in the best possible way.”
Dr. Mirko Đurović guided all the participants through a virtual tour of the Aquarium Boka.
Representatives of project partners also addressed the closing event.
Dr. Filippo Riccardi, a partner in Panaque srl. Rome spoke about his experiences during the installation of aquarium tanks and associated equipment. He emphasized that close cooperation has been established with the Boka Aquarium.
Dr. Nenad Antolović, Director of the Institute for Marine and Coastal Research from the University of Dubrovnik, Croatia, pointed “Close cooperation on the MonteAqua project move us to explore and set new cooperation opportunities. In August this year, we were granted as a leader for the implementation of the project “Discovering Transboundary Aquatic Biodiversity – EXChAngE”. Project is developing a new tourism product – Blue Pass, which will enable visits to new thematic routes with improved infrastructure: Dubrovnik and Aquarium in Croatia, Kotor and Boka Aquarium in Montenegro, Waterway Hutovo Blato and the Old Bridge in Mostar and the Neretva River in the Bosnia and Herzegovina and attract more tourists to the area. The project is supported under the Interreg IPA Cross-border Cooperation Program Croatia – Bosnia and Herzegovina – Montenegro 2014 – 2020, and uses ERDF and IPA II funds of the European Union. The total budget of the project is 1.7 M EUR, and the EU co-finances it with 1.4 M EUR. The project started on August 15, 2020, and will last for 24 months. The amount allocated to the Institute of Marine Biology is EUR 504,859.65.”
Dr. Milena Mičić, General manager of the Aquarium Pula, Croatia, welcomed the youngest aquarium on the Adriatic – Boka Aquarium and talked about the planned forms of cooperation in the coming period.
Dr. Flavio Gagliardi, a partner in Panaque srl. Roma and director of the Cala Gonone Aquarium, Sardinia, Italy, spoke about the established cooperation and consultancy he provides to the Aquarium Boka during the first days of its work.
The meeting was closed by Dr. Aleksandar Joksimović, Director of the Institute of Marine Biology. He addressed the participants in the Montenegrin language. He expressed the expectation that the Aquarium Boka will open its doors for the first public visits in the middle of 2021.