Authors:Zlata Zivakovic-Kerze (Croatian Institute of History)
Darko Mrkonjic (Kopacki Rit Traditional Fishing Society)
Paper short abstract:
Kopacevo is a wetland village with a unique type of fishing being developed. Due to the unnecessary late 20th century restrictions, the last generation of fisherman, holders of these skills, disappears nowadays, invoking an urgent protection as a valuable cultural heritage and a tourist attraction.
Paper long abstract:
Thirty-odd years ago, access to the Kopacki Rit area was limited, encompassing the local population who were prohibited from fishing without cogent reason, although being its millennial cultural and natural environment. Nowadays, this fact is an obstacle to a sustainable socioeconomic development, particularly to the rural tourism and the Hungarian minority's cultural area preservation. Traditional knowledge is disappearing, especially the very unique fishing technique and fishing tool manufacturing.
Simultaneously, a ban on fishing, navigation, and other traditional activities constitutes an ecosystem threat.
The wetlands formed by the meandering rivers of the Danube and the Drava for over 1,000 years, as documented by fishing, were preserved due to a coexistence of the man and the nature. Without maintenance, the meanders are disappearing in a natural cycle of riverbank erosion and herbal sediment deposition, so the area has lost more than 2/3 of its waters, according to local estimations. This is a threat to entire eco-chains, as a new meander creation is prevented by the waterways' hydrotechnical regulation.
A public institution managing the area unfortunately plans to rehabilitate the ecosystem while dredging the canals in spite of an injunction on all interventions in the nature, being the main reason for the fishing ban affecting the locals.
The Kopacki Rit Traditional Fishing Society has collected a rich documentary and artifactual materials whereas seeks to protect the related skills as a cultural property while restoring a right to limited fishing as a cultural tourism potential and an environmental monitoring and protection measure.
Traditional knowledge as the key for sustainable rural development: utopia or reality?