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The National Map of Marine Habitats launched – a key link in the preservation of the Adriatic Sea

Split, January 3, 2024 – The National Map of Marine Habitats of the Republic of Croatia was officially launched today at the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries in Split. The new, unique map of marine habitats for 51% of Croatia’s marine area provides a detailed insight into the distribution of species and habitats and is a key tool for the conservation and sustainable use of the Adriatic Sea. It is the result of two years of work and the knowledge of Croatian experts and scientists, marking the beginning of a new era in the protection and preservation of the Adriatic Sea, one of our most valuable economic and natural resources.

Oikon is one of the leading partners on the project, of which we are extremely proud, as it represents one of the most ambitious marine habitat mapping projects in the Republic of Croatia. This distinctive map is the result of more than 20,000 hours of research, utilizing various methodologies and data collection techniques, including modelling for uncovered areas, validation of collected data, and data analysis and aggregation. Innovative methods, such as remote surveys (satellite and aerial images), acoustic technologies, underwater photo and video surveys, diving, the use of autonomous divers, sediment sampling, advanced mathematical modelling, and the application of modern methods of spatial data processing and analysis, including the use of neural networks and machine learning algorithms, were employed.

The new national map intricately showcases the diversity and complexity of the marine and coastal habitats of our Adriatic Sea, and starting today, it is publicly available on the GIS WEB portal of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development: link.

Due to its complexity, the map creation project required a multidisciplinary approach. More than 200 experts and scientists in the fields of oceanography, geology, ecology, advanced robotics, and artificial intelligence from the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries, Oikon, the Croatian Geological Institute, the Faculty of Geodesy of the University of Zagreb, and the Ruđer Bošković Institute worked on it, in cooperation with the Croatian Hydrographic Institute and the companies Ecotech, Sciom, and Dvokut-Ecro.

As part of this project, Oikon worked on the following activities:

  • mapping of coastal habitat types using remote sensing and in-situ field methods,
  • mapping of marine habitats up to the 5th level of the national classification of marine habitats using direct in-situ mapping methods, including the use of drop-down cameras,
  • mapping of benthic habitat types (up to the 5th level of the national classification of marine habitats) based on the extent of visibility using satellite imagery and aerial photogrammetry,
  • integration of mapping data generated through remote sensing and acoustic mapping methods into a comprehensive map of marine habitats,
  • cartographic generalization and the creation of a map of marine habitats, along with an accompanying spatial database,
  • topological quality control of the produced map.

Each partner contributed unique knowledge and skills, making this project a true example of successful cooperation in the name of protecting and preserving our Adriatic. It has also contributed to Croatian science and the scientists involved in its implementation.

The map was made as part of the OPKK project of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, “Mapping of Coastal and Benthic Marine Habitats within the National Territory of the Adriatic Sea,” worth 11.9 million euros and co-financed by the European Union, covering 85% of the total budget. The project lasted 25 months and encompasses the areas of the coastal sea and continental shelf.

NOTE: The content of this publication is the sole responsibility of the consortium and does not reflect the views and opinions of the European Union.

Oikon d.o.o.
Oikon d.o.o.