Romania: Calarasi-Braila ("ISPA 1")

A threat to islands, sturgeons, and birds

This section of the Danube contains numerous islands within a unique ecosystem that will be seriously affected by the planned project. The works will affect 200 km of the most important reproductive areas for migratory sturgeon, and could negatively impact the feeding areas of starlets and other fish species.

The project concerns a 200 km section of the Danube River between the cities of Calarasi and Braila in Romania.

The project aims to:

  • Achieve a minimum navigation depth on the main “Old Danube” branch of 2.5 m.
  • Improve bank enforcement against erosion.
  • Reduce dredging works for maintaining navigation fairway.

The planned works include:

  • Partly closing and disconnecting some of the lateral arms.
  • Dredging to achieve an extra depth of 0.5 m to compensate for sedimentation in the first year.
  • Construction of guiding walls and bottom sills, near islands and at the beginning of a large side arm (Bala arm).
  • Bank enforcement (in total 4000 m), mainly around islands.
  • Annual maintenance dredging.

The planned activities will affect 200 km of the most important areas for reproduction of migratory sturgeons and feeding places of starlets and other fish species.

The project will also lead to contradicting use of EU funds.  This navigation project is funded by ISPA funds.  Works under this project will have an impact on the natural dynamics of some of the most important remaining islands on the Lower Danube, which are subject to an on-going EU-LIFE project protecting the unique ecosystem of these islands.  Moreover, the Romanian Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development are committed to designating these islands as Natura 2000 sites.

The project has received the environmental permit from the Romanian Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, however the European Commission is withholding co-financing of the project until the EIA report is improved and up to par with international standards. WWF provided comments on the EIA study and raised awareness of the critical environmental issues not properly addressed in the study.

 / ©: WWF Romania
A large barge on the Danube.
© WWF Romania

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