Bosnia & Herzegovina takes over ICPDR Presidency

The outgoing ICPDR President, Wolfgang Stalzer of Austria, passes his office on to Ermina Salkičević-Dizdarević, 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.

“One of the main characteristics of the Danube River Basin is its diversity,” says incoming President Ermina Salkičević-Dizdarević. “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.” As 19 countries have a share in the Danube River Basin, it is considered the most international River Basin in the world.

Key activities of the ICPDR in 2013 will include the organisation of Danube Day on 29 June, highlighting the struggle for protecting the Danube sturgeons. These fish, which can grow up to six metres in length, are hindered in their natural migration between spawning grounds and other habitats through dams and weirs; illegal fishing and the destruction of spawning grounds added to the pressures on sturgeon populations. The ICPDR is working with NGOs and scientists in promoting 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 parameters 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, there are still major challenges. 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 hydromorphological alterations. 2013 will see the publication of the reviewed “SWMIs” as a major step towards the development of the next management plan for the period after 2015.

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