Pursuant to Article 75 of the Maritime Domain and Seaports Act (Official Gazette n. 158/ 03), the County Assembly of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County has established the County Port Authority of Vela Luka as a non-profit legal entity for the purpose of managing, constructing and using the port of county and local importance open to public transport in the area of Vela Luka Municipality. The decision on the establishment was adopted on 19 April 2005 (Official Gazette of Dubrovnik-Neretva County n. 5/ 05), and the County Port Authority of Vela Luka started to operate on 1 November 2005.
The Maritime Domain and Seaports Act (Official Gazette n. 158/ 03) generally defines a seaport as a port that directly connects the land with the shores, piers, gear, plants and other facilities designed for mooring, anchoring and protection of boats, ships and yachts, boarding and unloading of goods and passengers, storage and other management of goods, production, refining and processing of goods and other economic activities which are related to these in regards to economy, transport or technology. The law defines a port open to public transport as a seaport which can be used by all natural and legal persons under equal conditions in accordance with its purpose and within the limits of available capacity.
Port authorities are established on the national and regional-county level for the purpose of managing, building and using ports open to public transport. Port authorities, as an extension of the state, manage the ports open to public transport and, among others, decide on public bidding and granting concessions.
Port area is an area of a seaport which includes one or more sea and land areas (port basin) used for port activities and managed by a port authority or a concessionaire. A port authority is obliged to propose a change of the Port Area Act if it is required by developmental, economic, administrative or other reasons.
Port area of the ports open to public transport of county and local importance includes the areas intended for liner shipping, communal mooring (including a mooring of a vessel whose owner has a permanent residence in the area of the local authorities or a vessel which is predominantly resident in that area and entered in the register of ships of the competent port authority or the logbook of boats of the competent port authority or branch office), nautical mooring for vessels, fishing mooring and berths (law amending the Maritime Domain and Seaports Act, Official Gazette n. 141/ 06).
According to the Law, a seaport is a maritime domain, and the port area of a seaport includes one or more sea and land areas used for port activities. Maritime domain can also be extended to a part of the land which spreads out of the port area, if it serves the usage of the sea by its nature or purpose. The sea border of the maritime domain is always wider than the port area - the port basin, as the border of the maritime domain on the sea is the outer border of the territorial waters of the Republic of Croatia.
The construction, maintenance and modernization of port infrastructure and assets in ports open to public transport is carried out on the basis of a ten-year development plan of the Republic of Croatia Port System, which is elaborated in detail in the annual port work and development program. The decade-long developmental plan of the port system is adopted by the Croatian Parliament at the proposal of the Croatian Government, while the annual work and development program of the port is made based on the proposal of the Director and adopted by the Port Authority Board.