The parties involved in the transformation of the marina, who have been engaged in talks for its development since 2012, consist of development and operating group Adriatic Marinas, globally-renowned shipbuilder Damen, and the Montenegrin government.
“Today marks the beginning of a new lease of life for the shipyard in Bijela. Together with our partners we take a long-term view on making yacht maintenance and refit in Montenegro a success,” commented Damen CEO Rene Berkvens, “A strong customer base at Porto Montenegro and yacht maintenance and refit skills within the Damen Group will contribute to the success of this venture.”
A breakthrough was made on the 30th November, when the Concession Agreement for the yard was signed - this following the completion of technical surveys and the contractual agreement for the remediation of the site by the government and the World Bank. Remediation works should be completed by early 2020, at which point the site’s transformation into a repair and refit facility will get underway.
The benefits of this project to the Montenegrin economy will be significant and far-reaching. The locale of Bijela, Herzeg Novi, is the historical homeland of the nautical industry in Montenegro which, following this redevelopment, will again become a hub of the Mediterranean marine market. Rene Berkvens has commented: “With the full support of the Montenegrin Government we aim to restore the yard’s health, increase employment, and pursue fitting commercial opportunities both locally and internationally that will contribute to rebuilding activity levels."
Damen’s role in the shipyard’s transformation comes in the form of recruitment and training - they shipbuilders are launching an apprenticeship programme operating throughout a global network of shipyards. Alongside this, plans for state-of-the-art lifting and repair equipment for the facility is already underway.
Managing Director of Adriatic Marina, David Margason, had the following to say about the impact of the initiative: “We believe that this initiative is an ideal example of how Montenegro’s fast-growing tourism and marine leisure industry can convert back into the generation of jobs in associated creative and production industries to offer a comprehensive, integrated and sustainable range of employment opportunities to future generations in the country.”
Between the present time and the completion of the Bijela facility, it is hoped that an agreement can be made between the Montenegrin government and Valgo, their remediation contractor, to allow a preliminary yachting service to be carried out in the western portion of the site as early as 2019/2020. Until then, the eyes of the region are on Bijela, whose redevelopment could mean great things for Montenegro.