Socio-ecological Union
Projects and campaigns

We may win the battle for the Danube reserve!

Dear all!

We want to tell you that now we have a good chance to win the battle for the Danube reserve! Your hel is crucial - see the update on the situation around the Danube reserve and canal throufh Bystroe estuary.

This year sedimentation of the canal happened even faster than we assumed. By April it was only 3-4 meters deep (project assumed it to be 5 - 6). Canal showed to be economically unsound - it fact, if construction continues, the same amount of dredginng is to be done all over again. The spit that has developed as the result of dredged sediment floating along the current in front of Vostochnoye (Eastern) estuary continues to expand.. In May it almost blocked the mouth of Vostochnoye estuary.

The main change in the Ukrainian authorities' attitude to the project is the following. During the Kouchma regime Ukrainian political elite had personal interest in this project - canal was lobbied by G.Kirpa, Minister of transport and personal friend of president Kouchma. As it came up recently, another interested person was Kouchma's son-in-law - V.Pinchuk, whose company "Ukrainian farvater" was "the dark horse" - second canal construction contractor, thogether with Delta Lotsman state company. This explaines why the project was pushed forward bluntely.

Present Ukrainian aithorities do not have such direct interest in the project continuation. In this April President Yuschenko said that it was necessary to settle the problem around the Danube-Balck sea canal. However buerocrats and mass-media keep interpreting the problem as a bilateral - between Ukraine and Romania, keeping tradition of ignoring of other countries - EU and US - protests.

There are some positive changes:

1. The felony case brought up by Tarnsport prosecutor against Danube reserve staff was closed (a lot due to public protests)

2. Inspection of the main actor - Delta-Lotsman (Delat-Pilot) was taken. Inspection found numerous violations, like support of 163 000 USD given by company directir V.Bezdolny to himself. Now there is a felony case brought against him.

Unfortunetely, part of the politicisan are still in favor of the canal construction. Main lobbiyst is present Minister of Transport E.Chervonenko, canal is supprted by vice-premier A.Kinah and Odessa region governor V.Tsushko..

In violation of the Ukranian legilsation, Odessa regional enviroenment inspection gave permission for dredging on Bystroe in April and May - during fish breedina and bird nesting period. Only under public pressure Ministry of Environment on May 7 stopped the works and sent out the commsision to the reserve. Currently commission is preparing report.

Canal lobbyist continue misinformation camapign in the media - talking about the "navigation restoration on Bustroye" (which never existed) and "deepening" of the Bystroye.

According to the promises goven by Ukraine to EU commission in past October, Ukraine is to hold a conferenc on the issue and two preparational workshops. First workshop was held in April - it was closed for public and canal opponents and consisted mostly of the canal "friends". Preparations for second workshop and conference is done in closed and non-transparent manner.

The canal situation recieved negative assesment form number of conventions. The Arhus convention meeting on May, 27 (Almaty, Kazakhstan) found Ukraine guilty of violation of its international obligations because of canal construction. Ramsar convention secreatriat expert Tobias Salate has prepared udate of the Bystroye estuary situation The report gives main facts concerning the construction of stage 1 of a canal and evaluates the contents of a international seminar on monitoring of canal construction impact on the Danube delta environment. The Seminar was hel in Odessa in April ( one of two seminars before the international conference mentioned above ). The exper wrote: " In many reports ( during a seminar ) it was spoken about the approaches to montoring, but a little of detailed results were given. There were no exact results of fish population monitoring ". Simultaneously, the Ramsar convention representative expressed concern with the absence of the information about biodiversuty, namely about indocatory fish species. At the end of report he has noted, that the influence on environment from navigation in Danube Delta should be studied with participation of all interested parties, and Ukraine should present the appropriate information on the construction I and II of stages, including assesment of impact on environment.

Internationla council of UNSECO MAB program on October 25-29 expressed serious concern about separeately made decision on reserve zoning (and the way it was done) changes and asked for clarifications.

Bern convention committee stated that it is neccessary to o avoid changes of borders of specially protected territories with the purpose of realization of the economic projects. The statement was done in connection to the Danube reserve situation. The Committe recommended to halt ocntruction before the comprehensive assement is done and publuc opinion is taken in account.

In fact, Ukrainian authorities are in doubt about project continuation. In this situation only position of EU and US woul be a serius argument. New Ukrainian goverenment is looking up top evaluation of its actions from Western countries - EU and US.

We are grateful to all those who have alredy supported campaign to svat the Danube reserve, and ask for you support again.

We ask you to turn to your MEPs and ask to make the canal construction termination on Bystroe estuary in Danube delta one of the terms for Ukraine and EU cooperation and closer relations development.

Your support now is crucial - we have a very good chance to win.

Please send us a copy of your letters to MEPS

Sergey Shaparenko
Pechenegy group

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