Bosnia & Herzegovina takes over ICPDR Presidency to coordinate Danube effort

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In a ceremony held in Vienna today, Bosnia and Herzegovina took over the presidency of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR). The outgoing President, Wolfgang Stalzer of Austria, passes his office on to Ermina Salkicevic-Dizdarevic, Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has no direct access to the Danube, but it is part of the river’s catchment area through major tributaries such as the Sava River. 19 countries have a share in the Danube River Basin, which is considered the most international River Basin in the world. 

“One of the main characteristics of the Danube River Basin is its diversity,” says incoming President Ermina Salkicevic-Dizdarevic. “The ICPDR unites regions among the richest and among the poorest in Europe, people from different language families, landscapes and cultures. Coming from Bosnia and Herzegovina, I am confident that our experience in managing diversity will benefit the presidency of 2013.” 

Key-activities of the ICPDR in 2013 will include Danube Day on the 29th of June, highlighting the struggle for protecting the endangered Danube sturgeons. Illegal fishing – principally for their caviar - is the main direct threat to the survival of Danube sturgeons. Habitat loss and disruption of spawning migration by dams and weirs are further threats to sturgeon survival. WWF and other NGOs are working together with ICPDR to promote measures to improve this situation. 

In August, the “Joint Danube Survey” research expedition will be launched, a scientific journey along the entire course of the Danube. It aims to survey parametres not covered in ongoing monitoring and to collect data from a central source. The ships carry international teams of scientists and are expected to attract a lot of attention.

The environment of the Danube and its catchment area has been significantly improved in recent years. However, major challenges still lie ahead. A River Basin Management Plan was developed for the Danube in 2009, which is currently being implemented over a period of six years. It is based on four “Significant Water Management Issues” (SWMIs). These are organic, nutrient and hazardous substance pollution as well as hydro-morphological alterations. 2013 will see the publication of reviewed “SWMIs” as a major step towards the development of the next management plan for the period after 2015.

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