Unforgettable Croatia has recently announced their partnership with the non-profit organisation, the Blue World Institute, which works to protect the marine environment in the Adriatic Sea. We caught up with Conservation Director, Peter Mackelworth, to find out how he started working for the Blue World Institute (BWI) and their prospects for the future
Peter Mackelworth And The Blue World Institute
What is your role working at the Blue World Institute?
While I am officially the chair of the BWI management board, my day to day job is conservation director. This means my main role is to ensure our research fulfils the long-term conservation goals for the species and habitats that we are interested in. I make sure that our conservation ideas are in line with the national, regional and international policies for conservation.
How long have you worked for the Blue World Institute ?
I first came to Lošinj in 1998 and helped with colleagues and local people to establish the BWI in 1999-2000. So I have been here from the start of the BWI. When I first came, I was a student studying at Heriot-Wat University in Edinburgh, then later I became more and more involved until eventually I began running the research on Lošinj for many years.
What has the Blue World Institute achieved over the years?
Considering that the organisation was only established in 1999, we have moved forward quite a lot. When I first started it was a small seasonal organisation with 2-3 persons working on the boat, dealing with the research and local education. In 2003 we established the first marine education centre in Croatia, and this changed the perception of the project. With this focal point the BWI became something more tangible and concrete, not only for the people working there but also the local community. Now we have 15 full-time employees and some additional seasonal assistants.
From a national perspective the work of the BWI has led to greater consciousness of the presence of dolphins, turtles and other large marine vertebrates, and has led to the definition of 6 Natura 2000 sites within Croatia for the protection of the bottlenose dolphins.
From an international-regional perspective many of us from the BWI work with institutions and universities in the region to develop projects, train staff, further conservation aims. One such example is the Horizon 2020 COST networking action Advancing Marine Conservation in the European and Contiguous Seas (MarCons).
What are the future plans for the Blue World Institute ?
While the next major project is to develop the new education centre in Mali Lošinj, we are always interested in new ideas for conservation, while continuing to maintain high levels of research and fair policy development. At one point we were considering how to develop a University of the Islands, but the development of the new education centre has taken a long-time and so, until that is finished, most other plans are on hold.
How are the Blue World Institute trying to make a difference with protecting the marine environment?
The education aspect of our work continues to be the most important in effecting change in human behaviour towards the dolphins, but the marine environment more generally. On the whole we can see that there is a major change to how both locals and visitors view the role of BWI and the presence of the dolphins in the region. As we say, education, education and more education.
How are the new partnerships that Blue World Institute are forming (like Unforgettable Croatia) going to help achieve your aims?
The BWI likes to work with likeminded organisation, whether they come from the business sector, universities, NGOs or other sectors. The business sector is particularly interesting to us in the fact that it allows us to access new groups of people, to help educate and develop new programmes. On the whole it gives a new perspective to our work which helps challenge us. Companies like UC lead the way in changing businesses practices, the fact that you reached out to us shows that there is a deeper commitment than in most instances. I hope that our cooperation can be a long-term commitment, as with time new ideas and areas to collaborate will open up and help not only the BWI but also the marine environment, on which nearly all the tourism business is based in Croatia.
What will the new Education Centre achieve and how will it help?
Well, this may be a little way down the line. We are still waiting for bureaucracy to be resolved. Once that happens then the funding and then we move forward. In the meantime the new Centre provides impetus and a goal for the organisation. I believe that it will make a difference on a regional scale, highlighting the marine environment not only for Lošinj, but for Croatia and the Adriatic.
Tell us about the Adriatic Dolphin Project.
The ADP is the base on which all of the work of the BWI is founded. This is the project that brought us all to Lošinj, so in the end, it is all about the dolphins!
You can join Peter and the rest of the team at BWI on our brand new Croatia Conservation and Exploration Scholarship, which is offering one travel and nature enthusiast a conservation scholarship. You will have the opportunity to travel around Croatia and learn about the local marine environment. Learn more about our scholarship and details on how to enter here.
We are currently raising money to help build the new Blue World Education Centre, we have set up a Just Giving page online where you can find more information and gives you the opportunity to donate to an important cause.
We would appreciate a contribution of any amount.
DONATE HERE >
Thank you for your support.
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