Serbia, Belgrade, 7-8 March 2018 – During the regional LIFE for Danube Sturgeons meeting, project partners sat together to discuss achievements, challenges and next steps in the project and to re-confirm their dedication to work jointly on saving Danube sturgeons.
Key topics were the project activities with two main target groups: in the first one are fishing communities and their socio-economic situation in Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine. In the second group are law enforcement agencies, involved in protecting wild sturgeons in the four countries, and investigating potential areas for improvement.
As part of our work with fishing communities, preliminary studies (Analysis of the Socio-Economic Situation and the Natural Resources in Fishing Communities) were conducted in all four countries.
In Romania, the survey covered several villages: Borcea, Fetesti, Vadu Oii-Giurgeni, Galati, Jurilovca, Sfântu Gheorghe. In Bulgaria the study covered: Vetren, Novo Selo, Nikopol. In Serbia it was done in Prahovo, Radujevac and Negotin. And in Ukraine it was conducted in three communities: Lisky, Prymorske and Vylkove.
According to the studies, main socio-economic concerns are: low income rates and investment possibilities in all assessed communities, aging population in some of the communities, limited options for the locals to create new jobs and find alternative livelihoods.
The studies give some concrete ideas for the potential areas of economic changes in all assessed communities, and the suggestions will be further analysed and debated as potential business projects. For many communities tourism is a possible alternative: eco-tourism and bird-watching, bike or gourmet tourism. Agriculture is another option, where growing vegetables, fruits or livestock and cultivating vineyards are possibilities to generate income for the locals. Those and other findings in the studies will be further discussed with the targeted fishing communities for the best alternative options to be developed.
In regard to our project work with law enforcement agencies, a study was conducted to bring a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the different agencies regarding sturgeon protection in all four project countries.
The main conclusions are towards building a working cooperation between agencies on a national and regional level; sharing good practices and exchanging information regularly. In terms of capacity building, our next step will be to produce training videos and manuals for the law enforcement agencies on sturgeon-related topics and to bring all relevant agencies together in national workshops.
“Overall, the regional meeting was a very good tracker for the project’s progress – where we stand with the project results, which are the main challenges and where to invest more energy and effort. We used the time together to reinforce our team spirit with new friendships, good internal communication and mutual understanding for the seriousness of our task: saving the Danube’s sturgeons.”, says Jutta Jahrl, Project Manager, LIFE for Danube Sturgeons.
Find more information on the activities and achievements in the first year of the project here.