The Public Advisory Council discusses the conservation activities and hot issues in and around Lake Atanasovsko.
On 25 November (Friday) 2022, the third meeting of the Public Council for Lake Atanasovsko was held in the Chamber Hall of NHK Culture Centre on the topic "The restoration of Lake Atanasovsko - main challenges for biodiversity and salt production".
The large-scale conservation activities, being implemented within the framework of “The Lagoon of Life” project, aimed at restoring the water regime of Lake Atanasovsko were presented. These include the restoration of 3 large dykes with a total length of almost 6000 m, which were destroyed at the end of the last century, the restoration of 17 km of mini-dykes and cleaning of 14 km of salty channels, repair of the main sea sluice, restoration of seagrasses, creation of favourable conditions for nesting of Bittern, etc.
Concerns about the unsustainability of the water regime maintaining Lake Atanasovsko salinity by the Black Sea Salinas Ltd. were also shared. There is a need to look for alternative mechanisms for this, including sharing of management between the saltworks operator and the state as owner, and developing alternative ways to ensure water circulation, because this was identified as the biggest challenge at the moment.
The problem of the water discharge into the South Atanasovsko Lake and its pumping at the expense of the Black Sea Salinas was discussed again, although the canal was transferred to the Regional Government of Burgas. A year ago, the Burgas Municipality, the Regional Government and the Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Water promised that the problem would be solved, but probably the necessary measures will be taken only after a major flood. The Burgas Municipality informed that in 2023 a new hydrometeorological station for flood prevention near the lake will be built and additional monitoring points will be installed.
Another serious problem is the untreated tyre dumping sited around the lake, which is continuously increasing and it has been found no solution so far for the huge dump of over 2500 tyres in the northern part of the lake. According to the Municipality, the amount for their removal is very high, but it is paradoxical how for 3 years no one in the state can solve this problem - neither the RIEW nor the Municipality, nor even the Prosecutor's Office, which has been alerted by the Mayer. Burgas Municipality has 19 points where citizens can dispose of 4 tyres a year, but the problem is clearly with the companies that collect and dispose of huge quantities. "It's a time bomb - said Vladimir Dimitrov from Zelena Strandja NGO - because if the tyres are set on fire in order to get the wire inside, it will be an environmental disaster."
New challenges lie ahead with the construction of a boathouse, which has begun to be built in the parking lot next to the Salinas bunker. We have yet to find out what will happen to the sea currents and whether the negative scenario of such ports in Sarafovo and Chernomorets will be repeated, but unfortunately, it is already too late to react, as the period for public discussion and appeal has passed.
"What's going on with the Reserve’s Management plan?" asked Neven Karavasilev from Hunting society Lebed. According to him, the plan needs to be revised and resubmitted to the Ministry of Environment and Water, because the current updated plan has been sitting in the MoEW for 5 years and has not been accepted, so the first plan from 2003, which the BBF developed, is still in force. The major problem facing the proposed update of the Management Plan is its irrelevance in the context of the new economic, social and environmental conditions, which have changed greatly compared to the period of its development. Thus, this update, even if not yet in force, is already outdated and cannot meet the conservation objectives of the area.
The plans for the urbanization of the southern part of the lake will seriously change the ecosystem, so the owner of Black Sea Salinas Ltd. said that he is strictly following the law to preserve this fragile symbiosis in Lake Atanasovsko. He is aware of the great public interest in the area and the desire of the citizens to preserve it.
Some of the successes related to Lake Atanasovsko, which is becoming more and more popular not only in our country but also in the world and is known as one of the pink lakes, were also shared.
- A film is being made about it - "Salty People", which is already ready and is about to be distributed.
- An international LIFE platform meeting on coastal wetlands was held in Burgas on 12-13 October 2022, where the main focus was again on the lake.
- The Council of Europe Landscape Award for the "Salt of Life" and BBF and the exciting award ceremony in Bergamo in April.
- The donation campaign for the Dalmatian pelican, is gaining more and more popularity.
- Salt Fair and birthday party of the reserve in August.
- Three American students explored Lake Atanasovsko for three months.
- Thirteen participants from nine European countries presented the Black Sea and Mediterranean wetlands in a special webinar on the 2nd of February.
- Salicornia - green salt without salt.
- EmpowerUs - a new European initiative to empower coastal communities.
The Council is an informal structure with an advisory role for the sustainable development of Lake Atanasovo, which meets once a year and brings together all stakeholders. Today the meeting was attended by representatives of the Municipality of Burgas, the Regional Administration, the Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Water of Burgas, the Executive Environment Agency of Burgas, the Regional Inspectorate of Education of Burgas, the Institute of General and Inorganic Chemistry (part of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences), “Prof. Assen Zlatarov” University, the BSPB, Zelena Strandja, Black Sea Salinas Ltd. and citizens.
All the issues raised at the Council will seek solutions through new meetings, complaints and informing the citizens.
Translated by our volunteer Milyausha Valieva from Burgas :)