The Council meeting started with a presentation by Mrs Lorena Segura from the Research institute for the conservation of Mediterranean wetlands "Tour de Valat", who presented the results of the study "Monitoring of the socio-economic impact and ecosystem services of Lake Pomorie". Conducted in the context of the Covid pandemic in Pomorie, it could not take place entirely face-to-face and some of the responses had to be collected online. 305 people responded to 16 questions assessing people's perceptions of the lake's problems and the ecosystem services it offers.
In terms of problems, the development of the lake shores and non-compliance with the conservation status was assessed as the most important. People want to control access to the lake, to have regulation of the SPA treatment, to be developed environmental education not only for citizens but also for visitors, and even police control. The salt mining backlog is the biggest problem affecting the quality of the mud. There is a lack of good management in the area, which also leads to problems.
Spas Uzunov from the BBF presented the status of the 1150* coastal lagoon habitat (which is Pomorie Lake) as particularly alarming. The experts' monitoring assessed it as unfavourable - poor and if this continues for another 1-2 seasons it will lead to a permanent loss of its area. If this hypothesis really happens the restoration of the habitat will be very difficult, long and expensive, and the functioning of the ecosystem of Pomorie Lake depends on its quality.
Dimitar Popov, project manager of "Life for Pomorie Lagoon" (LIFE19 NAT/BG/000804) shared about the disturbed hydrological regime and the filled bog (4 hectares) and the southern drainage channel (in the area of Kraichovaya turn), which leads to the discharge of the Pazariolu/Kamenarska river into Pomorie lake, and hence the salinity is reduced and the salt extraction is stopped. This is the "hot spot" that is at the root of the problems for the water regime of the lake. In the current situation, large volumes of freshwater enter unhindered from here, causing negative reactions similar to a "domino effect" throughout the ecosystem.
Despite numerous signals and checks with various institutions in the country (BSBD, RIEW Burgas, Regional Road Administration-Burgas (the contractor of the bypass project), Pomorie Municipality, Pomorie Salinas Ltd, Green Balkans, etc.) it has been established that as a result of the backfilling with a significant amount of earth masses the drainage channel leading the Kamenarska River out of the lagoon has been interrupted. A deadline has been set for taking action and removing the accumulated earth and waste and clearing the affected areas, but no result has been achieved.
"After we became convinced that there is apparently no determination in the Bulgarian institutions to resolve the case, we raised the issue at the European level and in November 2022 we filed a COMPLAINT to the European Commission. We expect an on-site inspection in May and hope that concrete action will be taken." - said Dimitar Popov from Green Balkans.
At the end of the meeting, Lorena Segura presented Tour de Valat's experience in managing the Verdier Marshes, part of the Camargue Biosphere Reserve. These were private fisheries, purchased by Tour de Valat in 2003 with the idea of restoring traditional wetlands. Using Community-based restoration and involving the different stakeholders (hunters, fishermen, pasture users and ecotourism enthusiasts), a mosaic of habitats was created - pastures, hunting and fishing areas, recreation and sporting areas - and these wetlands were successfully restored.
In the meeting of the council took part and debated the representatives of Pomorie Municipality, RIEW-Burgas, Regional Administration, Pomorie Saltworks Ltd, Green Balkans, Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation, students from the University "Prof. Asen Zlatarov", "Citizens for Pomorie" Association, etc.
The meeting was held at the Salt Museum and after the Council, the participants visited the Pomorie Lake Visitor Centre where they continued to discuss the challenges facing the area. The group then visited the Kraichovaya turn area, where the wetland has been filled in with soil and where - despite the drought in recent months - fresh water continues to enter the lake.
The Consultative Council is organized by the Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation within the framework of the project "Life for Pomorie Lagoon" (LIFE19 NAT/BG/000804), co-funded by the EU LIFE Programme. More about the project at https://lifeforpomorielagoon.eu/ and on the Facebook page Life for Pomorie Lagoon.
The BBF expresses its gratitude to the Municipality of Pomorie and the Pomorie Historical Museum, which manages the Museum and the Centre, for their hospitality and the opportunity to discuss the issues concerning the Pomorie Lagoon in the most appropriate place.