Habitat Oder and Haff


European Commission report on the Oder disaster: The EU must exert pressure!

Last Friday, the European Commission published a report with conclusions regarding the environmental disaster of last August. My statement:

“It was high time that the EU Commission got involved in dealing with last year’s environmental disaster. After all, the current reports from the Oder are alarming in view of next summer: the fish population has hardly recovered, the salinity levels are still too high, and on the Polish side, dredging continues unabated in order to push ahead with the expansion of the Oder as a waterway – and this despite the fact that a Warsaw administrative court imposed a construction stop at the end of last year. It is clear that the Oder is not made for this project! It is not suitable as a waterway, and climate change, which is causing low water levels more and more often, is further aggravating the situation. The Czech government has therefore recently abandoned plans to build a Danube-Oder-Elbe canal.

The report confirms that the environmental disaster was man-made. Therefore, we also bear the responsibility to bring the ecosystem back on track. The Oder is one of the last near-natural rivers in Europe and a refuge for numerous endangered species. Instead of further destroying it, we must support its regeneration and strengthen its resilience to climate change. A research programme recently approved by the Federal Ministry for the Environment veers towards this goal.

However, these measures will only be a drop in the ocean if it is not possible in the next few months to stop the works on the river, get the discharges in Poland under control and to set up a cross-border early warning system. The PiS government’s willingness to engage in dialogue is currently very limited. It is therefore up to the EU to exert pressure. After all, European environmental law is being violated here, and even worse, EU subsidies are used for the works on the river under the guise of flood protection! The EU Commission must finally ensure that the Water Framework Directive is strictly applied – if necessary by means of infringement proceedings.”


In August 2022, about 360 tonnes of fish and molluscs died in the Odra River due to high salt loads caused by industrial discharges, including from mining. These enabled a toxic bloom of the so-called golden alga (Prymnesium parvum). In the context of a German-Polish tour, I was travelling at the time on and along the Oder and experienced the mass fish-die off first hand. You may find the Commission reported, which was published on February 17th, here.

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