Interview with Filip Stefanovic: Solving the world’s most pressing marine problems

Finding the balance between protecting coastline structures and conserving the environment is an important task.

Nowadays, extreme climate events, such as droughts and flooding, are occurring at an increasingly alarming rate worldwide.

Also, sediments and floating debris collect on structures during floods, clogging waterways and thus creating dangerous situations.

One of the companies deeply involved in finding solutions and bringing new products for a better marine environment to coastal protection market is Ecocoast.

Their business is built around offering products and services at every stage of the coastal and marine development lifecycle, from development, infrastructure and coastal protection, to operation and maintenance.

Recently, we took an opportunity to talk about creating sustainable solutions for many of the above mentioned issues with Mr. Filip Stefanovic, Regional General Manager, Bolina – part of Ecocoast.

Filip Stefanovic

DT: As an introduction to some of our readers who are not familiar with your company’s background, what can you tell us about your business, the beginnings and where is Ecocoast today?

Mr. Filip Stefanovic: Ecocoast is a global leader in engineered products for the protection of coastlines, waterways, critical marine assets and infrastructure. 

The business is built around offering products and services at every stage of the coastal and marine development lifecycle, from development, infrastructure and coastal protection, to operation and maintenance, focusing on products that protect and support our coastlines, marine environment and people.

Through our brand Ecobarrier, we are at the forefront of designing, manufacturing and distributing globally a range of marine products for coastal and marine protection, demarcation and navigation.

In early 2020, we acquired Bolina, the European leader in marine safety, security and environment booms for inland waterways, ports, dams and critical infrastructure.

We work with clients all over the world in the commercial and government sectors, primarily general and marine contractors; developers; hotel, port and marina operators; facility managers; governments and authorities.

Through developing engineered products for a better marine environment, we will achieve our mission of solving the world’s most pressing marine problems and creating a more pioneering marine industry.

Ecocoast photo

DT: Overall, 2020 and 2021 were challenging around the globe in many ways, how did your company sail through that period?

Mr. Filip Stefanovic: Despite the hurdles of 2020 and 2021, through Ecocoast’s agile leadership and operating system, the period ended with group revenues up by over 20% per cent compared to the previous years and the handling of the pandemic has been the key to success.

Securing our supply chains was one of the first priorities in the immediate weeks of the pandemic, which we were able to do through the strong relationships built over the decades. These relationships were key to maintaining all projects that were in progress.

With most infrastructure works classified as essential, Ecocoast continued to operate – in new socially distanced ways with teams working in bubbles – throughout much of 2020 and into 2021.

Holding a strong inventory also ensured that the business could deliver quickly, despite huge challenges.

Ecocoast photo

DT: What is in the pipeline at the moment and what are you and your Ecocoast team currently working on?

Mr. Filip Stefanovic: As an engineering and innovation company at heart, the Ecocoast team is continuously finding gaps in the market and fielding special requests from clients to find new fit-for-scenario solutions.

These ideas are then rigorously tested to ensure they meet Ecocoast and Bolina quality standards that the companies are renowned for.

Our main focus is sustainability, such as products that can help combat climate change, as well as the sustainability of materials used.

DT: Do you believe that dredging industry can make a difference in improving the environment’s quality, and what is your opinion on this?

Mr. Filip Stefanovic: Dredging has both positive and negative effects regarding the environment.

Positively, dredging can provide sustainable solutions to lessen the potential damage caused by rising sea levels and the increase in extreme weather. This includes maintaining the safety of navigation at ports; constructing infrastructure that manages coastal flood and erosion risks; enlarging water storage capacity; and regulating sedimentation.

Negatively, the emissions from the vessels add to the problem of global warming, as well as the dredging itself disrupting the environment through noise and silt.

It is imperative that the dredging industry reduces emissions, and uses solutions such as Ecobarrier Silt Curtains to reduce environment impact, to ensure actions are indeed overall improving environmental quality.

Ecocoast photo

DT: Sustainability now comes in many forms, and as one of the companies involved in coastal protection and dredging projects, you have knowledge, data and expertise to make a positive difference. What are your priorities when it comes to creating sustainable dredging solutions?

Mr. Filip Stefanovic: Our priority is three-fold.

Firstly, we pioneer products that combat the environmental issue itself. This covers a range of issues such as hazardous blue-green algae, oil spills, plastic pollution and silt turbidity.

The second is the sustainability of the material itself; for instance, our Ecobarrier products can be recycled, so that the products do not land up in landfill and add to environmental problems.

Our third focus is the durability of our products for long-time use and maintenance, to avoid waste.

Photo: Ecocoast