Europe on the ground


Presentation of a German and a Polish report on the fish die-off in in the Oder river – My statement

Following the massive fish and mussel die-off in August, Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke and her Polish counterpart Anna Moskwa decided to set up a German-Polish expert committee at the latest meeting of the German-Polish Environmental Council. This panel of experts from the scientific community was originally tasked with identifying the causes of the fish die-off by 30 September. However, there are now two separate reports – according to the Polish authorities, it was a misunderstanding. They insisted that the Polish side had assumed from the outset that there would be two separate reports.

My statement:

It is shocking that German-Polish cooperation in environmental protection is working so poorly after this catastrophe. The fish die-off should have been a wake-up call – after all, we can only preserve the Oder river if we work together. This is why we must now do everything we can to ensure that such an environmental disaster does not happen again. The EU Commission must intervene in future and insist on the implementation of the Water Framework Directive. In this context, a German-Polish transparent river monitoring system would be important: It should include a warning mechanism if temperatures and salinity levels exceed certain limits. We also must drastically reduce industrial discharge into the Oder. The river’s ecosystem has been severely weakened. The natural cleaning system has broken down because a large proportion of the mussels have died. The Oder river now needs some rest and time for regeneration. It also needs renaturalisation measures to help it recover. It does not need further construction measures that continue to damage its ecosystem. Germany and Poland must now take joint responsibility for the river.

You may read more in articles in Spiegel, TAZ and Tagesspiegel.

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