ZAGREB, 10 February 2022 – Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković said on Thursday that the European Commission’s call on Croatia to ensure effective monitoring, control and inspection of bluefin tuna farms making subject to audits from 2017 to 2019 and that Croatia had since considerably improved its agricultural legislation.
“Croatia has two months to prepare a response. We will see if the Commission will recognize everything we have done. I think we have done a lot,” the minister told reporters at Sveti Đurđ in Varaždin County.
As part of this month’s infringement case, Croatia received a letter of formal notice after an audit and verification by the Commission “identified serious shortcomings in the monitoring of transfer and caging bluefin tuna”.
“National authorities should ensure that data is cross-checked, accurate and validated, and should investigate potential cases of non-compliance and take administrative or criminal action against those responsible for breaches of EU law”, the Commission said, adding that Croatia “has not taken the necessary steps to remedy these shortcomings.”
Croatia has two months to respond to the letter and take the necessary measures, the Commission said, adding that “in the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to issue a reasoned opinion”.
The press asked Vučković to comment on Fisheries Inspector Marko Pupić Bakrač’s statement after the notice letter that she should resign or the prime minister should replace her.
The Minister interferes in the work of the inspection and tells us what to do, while the documents on the imports of tuna in Croatia are falsified, he said.
As Slobodna Dalmacija daily reported, Pupić Bakrač said that Croatian tuna farmers were favored by being forced to register tuna imported from Libya only after exporting it to Japan.
Meetings on this subject are held at the Ministry of Agriculture, attended by a dozen ministry employees, and the minister, in agreement with the farmers, tells the inspectors how to act, he said, calling it a ‘abuse of power. He also warned of suspicious activities in the unloading of forage fish destined for tuna farms.
Vučković said that Pupić Bakrač “lies unbelievably. He claims that I regularly meet with farmers and fisheries inspectors to explain to them how to conduct fisheries inspections. He lies…I never did. That he finds an inspector or a farmer who will support him.”
She also said that proceedings had been brought against Pupić Bakrač before the Civil Service Tribunal “for violation of the regulations” and that it was not the first time.
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