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New Dispute Around Danube Reserve

In Vilkovo town (Ukraine) the outdoors session of the Committee on construction, transport, municipal services and communication of Verkhovnaya Rada (Parliament of Ukraine) was held in the end of April, 2003. The main subject of the session was discussion of the question of construction of navigation canal the Danube - the Black Sea.

The problem of construction of the canal was to be discussed also at the session of the Council on National Security and Defence of Ukraine April 23. But the sitting was postponed till May. The letters in support of Danube Biosphere reserve continue to come at the address of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine. The reserve is under threat of destruction in case the authorities of Ukraine approve the variant of construction of the navigation canal through its territory.

In the documents on the project, which were distributed among the deputies at the Session of the Committee, obvious misinformation contained about activity of reserve. And it is no wonder - the documents were prepared by the firm "Delta-Lotsman ", the main lobbyist of the idea of construction of the canal through the reserve, supported by the Ministry of Transport of Ukraine. Therefore the head of the reserve was compelled to take the floor to correct the information.

Then the representative of the Ministry of transport spoke about a history of development of navigation. He once again have confirmed the notorious fact, when in 1997 on dredging operations on the Prorva channel was spent of 3 millions of grivna (about $550 thousands), but after three months its depth was again only 1,5 meters. (If through Bystroye Estuarty, through the reserve, the navigation channel will be constructed, there will be a similar situation, but that the Transport Ministry holds back).

During survey of Bystroye estuary V.Beztolnyi, the CEO of "Delta-Lotsman", tried to convince the participants of the session, that the construction of navigation channel in this place will have a favourable effect of fish stocks. The defenders of reserve had to explain him that the navigable channel intends realisation of huge dredging work, during which millions of cubic meters of the taken out ground will be dumped in the Black Sea. It results in destruction of soil fauna, the food for fish, and many young fish perish, reservoir becomes polluted. In addition, in case of construction of the deep-water navigation channel on Bystroye estuary catching of fish under current rules becomes impossible. But Bystroye estuary is the basic place in delta of Danube, where is fishing of herring is conducted.

The head of Odessarybvod (state enterprise on fishing industry in Odessa) and the director of the Odessa branch of Institute of fish industry have declared themselves against construction of the channel through Bystroye. They have sent the official letter to the parliament missive, in which have confirmed, that the construction is inadmissible in respect to fishing industry.

The problem of payback of the channel construction was also discussed on the session. According to calculations of the Transport Ministry of Ukraine, it is necessary that 65 percents of foreign ships instead of the Romanian channels have begun to run through Bystroye estuary. For the channel paid back, it is not enough only Ukrainian cargo transportation. At the same time, a simple sight on a geographical map proves, that it would be unprofitable to use the Ukrainian channel for foreign ships. What for to run such long distance to Ukraine, when there are other, shorter navigable ways?

Recently representative of the Ministry of Economics A.Kushnirenko has called these grandiose plans on attraction of foreign ships unreal. He has also emphasised, that, contrary to the statements of the director "Delta-Lotsman", the Ministry of Economics of Ukraine did not approved the project on the channel through Bystroye estuary.

N.Kruglov, the deputy of the Parliament of Ukraine has mentioned that the situation with Bystroye reminds to the similar situation with Odessa - Brody oil pipeline. After spending of enormous means on the oil pipeline, it has appeared useless, and now nobody knows, what for it was built, and that to do with it. The empty oil pipeline 600 kilometres length becomes rusty. To fill it, many thousand tons of petroleum are necessary.

The deputy has accentuated also, that he worries about the international aspect of the problem and about all the obligations on protection this unique natural area undertaken by Ukraine. In case of construction of the channel through Bystroye estuary huge budget money is be spent, the centre of the reserve is destroyed, the mountains of sand and heaps of rusty scrap metal becomes a monument to the ambitions of the Transport Ministry of Ukraine.

V.Shevchuk, the minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine said, that the problem of construction of the canal is complicated and extremely difficult. Any variants of such scaled construction will put harm to nature and to the Danube Biosphere reserve in particular. Therefore it is necessary to choose the variant, which will pit the least harm. He has also drew attention that according to the Land Code of Ukraine, the decision on withdrawal of any part of the territory of a reserve must be necessarily approved by Parliament of Ukraine.

For further information:
Danube Biosphere Reserve, Vilkovo
A.Voloshkevich e-mail:

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