An aquarium can play a crucial role to educate the public on issues related to marine conservation. Experience in nature has been well documented in the literature to explain environmentally friendly behaviour in humans, with intimate marine experiences offered by aquaria permitting these profound, behaviour changing opportunities.
At the same time an aquarium has the potential to impact marine ecosystems if, for example, it does not source the marine aquatic species in a sustainable way.
The Friend of the Sea Aquaria Certification requires aquaria to establish, on top of robust sustainability policy, waste management and social accountability, comprehensive scientific information surrounding each species, and to organise annual conservation education courses. The certification also ensures aquariums meet the highest standard of animal welfare and prevents the captivity of mammals unless special exceptions are made.
The Dubrovnik Aquarium, founded by the Institute for Marine and Costal Research at the University of Dubrovnik, Croatia, has been recognised as a sustainable aquarium and it has received the Friend of the Sea certification.
The Dubrovnik Aquarium, quaintly placed within the 16th century walls of St Johns fortress in the city of Dubrovnik, houses a diverse range of sea flora and fauna existing in the Adriatic Sea. Common species of flamboyant fish such as the seabass, gill head bream & mullets to the rarer and enigmatic moray & trigger fish amongst numerous other species brim the 24 sophisticated tanks, calling them home.
Known as the ‘Jewel of the Sea’ for its sandy beaches and calm blue waters, the city of Dubrovnik perfectly encapsulates the magnificent, natural beauty of a seaside paradise. With its inherent connection to the ocean, the city continues to commit to its responsibility towards preserving its surrounding aquatic landscapes.
“We intend to foster a greater insight regarding ecology of marine organisms and the related problems onset by global warming and ocean waste & contamination, and we see the Friend of the Sea certification as the direction we want to see Dubrovnik Aquarium taking to fulfil our sustainable management objectives” Dr. Sc. Nenad Antolović, Head of the Institute for Marine and Coastal Research, University of Dubrovnik.
The aquarium is currently undergoing an intensive renovation project with plans to embellish current pools and build newer state-of-the-art ones. The project also intends to enhance the aquarium experience, with emphasis on employing robust sustainable management, education, and continual protection of current and natural heritage of Croatia.
“Our goal is to provide a reference list for tourists and environmentally conscious people who wish to select aquariums based on their respect for the marine environment and the well-being of the aquatic species present” says Paolo Bray, director of Friend of the Sea.
The aquaria AquaRio in Brazil, Lake District Coast Aquarium in UK, Aquarium Rubrum in Italy, and Aquarium Pula in Croatia, have already obtained the Friend of the Sea certification. Friend of the Sea invites aquaria that boast vigorous sustainable policies and education to apply for certification to contribute to shaping more responsible behaviours amongst wider society.