During our participation in the SWS conference in Potsdam, Germany (17-20 May 2016), we spoke to Dr. Martin Pusch from the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater ecology and inland fisheries in Berlin on the impacts a new bigger marina inside Studenchishte Marsh would have on Lake Ohrid.
Dr. Pusch is one of the major European experts on fresh water ecology and management. He has worked on lake shore ecology for 15 years conducting basic research and also applied research. He has been the leader of a project that developed an assessment tool for the ecological integrity of lake shores under the EU water framework directive which has been acknowledged by Europe commission and is now the official tool for assessment of lake shore integrity.
After attending OhridSOS presentation regarding Studenchishte Marsh and learning about the urbanization projects that will affect the area, in particular the construction of a marina and a center for water sports, he expressed his fear and disapproval. This is what he told us (literally).
Dr. Pusch: We have studied the effects of boating on lake shores especially the effect of boat-generated waves and found out that these waves have detrimental effects on the invertebrate fauna and also the fish living in the littoral zones. This effect has been mostly neglected internationally and we have been among the first to work on it and we found out how strong the impact on invertebrate fauna is.
Apart from the obvious effects (pollution, noise), marinas are detrimental because of the artificial waves. Boat-generated waves can be much higher than natural waves and they also appear in areas of the shoreline which are usually protected from wind-driven waves so that quite sensitive species can be affected. We know one example from a lake near Berlin which is heavily used for boating where we studied dragonflies that are under severe pressure and have almost disappeared.
OhridSOS: Can you explain which European water framework policy is regulating this issue?
Dr. Pusch: The European water framework directive aims to bring all the water bodies into good ecological status which means that all the actions which are preventing reaching the good status are not allowed especially marinas are not acceptable. Under the water framework directive the effects of such a project need to be assessed and the modification of the project have to elaborated to minimize the effects, minimizing the size of the project, relocating the marina to less sensitive areas of the shoreline.
The project has to be respective of the tourist development of the lake, but it has to be clear which is the tourist target group and what kind of tourism does Macedonia want to bring to the lake or which is the tourist niche where Macedonia want to put the lake in the international competition for tourists. I have heard that Dutch tourists have traditionally been keen on visiting Ohrid Lake and it is widely known that Dutch tourists are particularly fond of natural tourism; therefore the construction of such a marina in Studenchishte area will destroy the natural values of the lake and will decrease the appeal for Dutch tourists.
Prof. Dr. Nadezda Apostolova