Huchen protesting at Drina regatta

24.7.2017 - BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

At the largest European event on the water– Regatta on the River Drina, the Center for Environment organized an action dedicated to the protection of this river and its wildlife.

About 20,000 people took to boats, rafts and traditional wooden floats and went down this beautiful river. At this year’s event, NGOs in cooperation with angling (fishing) associations protested against hydropower plans which threathen Balkan rivers.

The Drina is the most important lifeline for the Huchen (Hucho hucho) – a globally threatened fish species. This species can grow up to 1.8 m in length and is particularly vulnerable to dam construction. Nevertheless, the Drina is at risk from nine planned dams, including the large Buk Bijela project.

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Protesting on the Drina for huchen, a globally endangered species, © Aleksandar Škorić

“With this action, we were showing to the participants of the Drina Regatta as well as the wider public how hydropower development is putting our rivers at risk and why it is crucial to preserve the river Drina; it is the most important hotspot for the Huchen,” says Jelena Ivanić from the Center for Environment. She is the main organizer of protest activity and a Blue Heart partner.

The slogan “Čuvajmo Drinu, zaustavimo brane!” ("Save the Drina, stop the dams“) was floating down the river during the regatta. Additionally, a big Huchen dummy got the attention of the participants.

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20,000 people in front of  90 m high dam Bajina Bašta, ©Dušan Mićić

“With the Save the Blue Heart of Europe campaign, we fight to save the rivers in the Balkans for the benefit of species like the Huchen but also for the benefit of people. 20,000 participants at the event proves how attractive free rivers are to people. Try having a river regatta on a dam lake!” says Ulrich Eichelmann, coordinator of the Blue Heart campaign at Riverwatch.

The action was organized by Center for Environment and other NGOs from Bosnia & Herzegovina, with union for outdoor sports from Green Bear of Bajina Bašta and the United Anglers Association of Serbia with the support of other international environmental groups such as Riverwatch and Patagonia.

 

 

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