Stakeholders from Bulgaria and Romania learn how economic activities can go hand in hand with nature protection in Fisheries
The trip was part of the project “Promoting Payments for Ecosystem Services & Related Sustainable Financing Schemes in the Danube Basin”. The project promotes and supports land managers who help us sustain the benefits that we all get from nature.
The study tour benefited those working on designing and applying funding mechanisms for the aqua-environment sector. During the trip they could see a variety of economic activities that worked hand in hand with nature protection.
“It’s very impressive that the Fisheries sector in Hungary uses EU funds available under the Operational programme “Fisheries and Aquacultures” effectively, both for aqua-environmental measures as well as innovative technologies and breeding of new fish species with high market value, keeping the footprint of the sector low”, said Maya Todorova of WWF.
“One of the sites we visited was Jászkiséri Halas Ltd, a modern, multifunctional fishpond. The owner of the company used EU funds to modernise the fishpond and his practices. In the ‘open fishpond’ system the used water is re-utilized. This way, the output of waste emissions has not increased, but net yield is 400 times higher”, Todorova said.
In addition to commercial aquaculture, the company diversifies its activities providing conditions for anglers and research institutes. Anglers buy a fishing ticket which allows them to catch fish up to the value of the ticket. If the angler is not successful, the company ‘refunds’ them with fish up to the value of the ticket.
“Jászkiséri Halas Ltd works with universities, especially for its closed system of breeding Barramundi, which has high market value in Hungary and the EU. The pond uses geothermal water, which ensures good environment for the fish. To top it all, in 2000 the company opened a restaurant and a small Bed and Breakfast hotel. At both the restaurant and the B&B, only fish from the ponds is served”, Todorova added.
Another site that was visited during the capacity building trip was the Tisza area. The artificially built Tisza lake is a protected area.
“On Tisza lake we were able to witness how nature protection can be combined with economic activities bringing back money to the site”, Todorova said. “Bird watching and fishing conditions are ensured on the lake, with several no-go areas established to protect the birds. There is no entry fee to the lake. However, in order to visit it one needs to rent a boat and a local guide is provided. Fishing is charged additionally, based on the catch.”
Biharugra Nature Protected Area, a former GEF project site is an interesting case combining nature protection and economic activities in this fishpond area. The zonation of the protected area defines zones of strict protection (mostly marshes) that are no-go areas, as well as protected areas, mostly wetlands, where economic activities are allowed.
“Today one third of the wetland is managed by a local NGO that was implementing the GEF project ‘Wings over Wetlands’. The NGO implements nature protection projects and contributes to implementing the management plan of this protected area. The rest of the wetland is given under concession to private companies for developing commercial fishing. The fishponds are managed extensively, relying on the natural capacity of the wetland to produce fish feed. Furthermore, in Biharugra, hunting - of wild boars and ducks - and tourism are allowed”, Todorova said.
The project “Promoting Payments for Ecosystem Services & Related Sustainable Financing Schemes in the Danube Basin” is implemented by the WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme with the financial support of the GEF through UNEP, and of the European Commission.