On 16 -17 November in Nikopol, WWF Bulgaria organised a two-day conference on the economic development and future of the fishing communities in the region. The event was part of the project “LIFE for Danube Sturgeons” and had to initiate a discussion on finding new business opportunities, as an alternative to fishing wild sturgeons, for the communities in the region of Nikopol and Belene on the Danube River.
Prior to the conference, in 2017 WWF Bulgaria conducted a study on the socio-economic situation of several fishing communities along the Danube River. The results of the analysis showed an alarming demographic decline, aging population, limited business opportunities and a widespread sense of despair due to lack of alternatives.
At the same time, these fishing communities play an important role in the conservation of the wild Danube sturgeons, thus many activities within the project “LIFE for Danube Sturgeons” have been designed to include fishermen in the protection of the last viable sturgeon populations in the river.
At the conference WWF Bulgaria and fishermen discussed ideas for finding alternative income sources based on the available resources in the region. Among the business opportunities are creation of eco-tourism and improvement of the existing infrastructure, focus on local products, authentic food and hospitality. The river itself can generate tourism via the international cruise ships touring around the Danube. Next step will be a specific business plan to be developed with the participation of local communities and the support of WWF Bulgaria.