On June 17th 2021, in a Regional Agency DUNEA and University of Dubrovnik collaboration, a manifestation called "BLUE EVENT" has been held, where three EU projects were presented: MARLESS, BLUEfasma and SeaClear. These three projects are funded through three different programs, and the link is the topic of blue growth - marine environment as driver of sustainable development, focusing on the circular economy and the problem of marine litter, with goals that include innovative environmental solutions in marine litter monitoring, collection and management.
The event was held at University of Dubrovnik premises at Bistrina, accompanied by "zero waste" catering, without generating additional waste. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the event was invitation only. Altogether 25 stakeholders participated, with representatives of relevant county institutions: from the tourism sector, port authorities, environment and nature protection institutions, to local government units that have access to Mali Ston Bay, one of the pilot areas of the SeaClear project.
One of the key reasons for the event is the formation of the Community of Practice for the marine litter problem in Dubrovnik Neretva County. The dissemination and knowledge exchange plan of SeaClear project is focused on the creation of the Community of Practice, which, together with the Regional agency DUNEA as a coordinator, represents a group of citizens from various sectors related by the same goal. This includes public bodies, experts, NGOs, tourism industry, shellfish, divers, activists, artists and the like. On this occasion, the concept of the Community of Practice was presented, with a brief overview of the problem of marine litter in the region, in order to motivate the participants to join the community. This event is just the beginning of "building" this community for cooperation and exchange of ideas, as part of both SeaClear and MARLESS activities, with the aim of raising awareness about the huge global marine litter problem, and the responsibility of each individual to act for the reduction of the amount of waste we produce.
At the event, participants had an opportunity to listen a lecture led by assoc. prof. dr. sc. Marijana Pećarević from University of Dubrovnik, on the idea of circular economy from the BLUEfasma project, which offers solutions for the reuse of marine litter, specifically from mariculture industry. Participants also attended an interactive workshop where prof. Pećarević presented the cycle of Mali Ston oysters, from a product ready for consumption, to a completely new product generated from shell waste: oysters used for consumption, a sample of cooked shell, a sample of chopped shells, shells in a mixture for modelling, working specimens of jewellery and souvenirs from a mixture of crushed oysters. This is just one small example of what marine litter can be used for. The conclusion of this lecture is that, as nature itself moves in circular cycles, so can man behave in the economy – in a circular way, using waste as a raw material. Although the items made from the oyster shell powder are still being worked out, prof. Pećarević pointed out that the uses are numerous and there are already some plans for its implementation.