The Croatian Ministry of Agriculture and the Israeli company Aeronautics signed on Tuesday a €4.87 million contract to procure drones for monitoring fishing activities, with EU funding covering 70 percent of the sum.
The system consists of launch ramps, six unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and the complete logistics support required to monitor Croatia's territorial waters and its ecological and fisheries protection zone (ZERP), and will be co-financed as part of the EU's maritime and fisheries programme for 2014-20.
Agriculture Minister Tomislav Tolusic said at the signing ceremony that the system would be used to monitor legal and illegal fishing activities in the Adriatic sea. It will also be used to monitor the entry of foreign fishing boats into Croatian territorial waters.
"About 60 percent of the time the system will be used by the Agriculture Ministry to monitor fishing activities, while the rest of the time it will be used by the Defence Ministry for search and rescue," Tolusic said.
The UAVs are expected to be delivered in November this year.
Tolusic said that this procurement was the most significant item in the plan to modernise the system of monitoring and controlling fishing activities until 2020, and that the project was conducted in cooperation with the Defence Ministry. The Agriculture Ministry will cover the procurement costs, whereas the Defence Ministry will be responsible for logistic support and handling of the equipment, he added.
Deputy CEO of Aeronautics, Dany Eshchar, said that the UAVs bought by Croatia are one of the most advanced such systems in the world. The Orbiter UAV can stay in the air for 7 hours and has a range of 150 kilometres. He added that Orbiters are very quiet, equipped with a powerful camera with an excellent zoom capability, and can have an operational ceiling of 6 kilometres.