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Cross-border civil society brings disaster response capacities, for one of Europe's largest rivers

Global Society & Global Goals
Cross-border civil society brings disaster response capacities, for one of Europe's largest rivers.

Following the major fish kill in the Oder River between Germany and Poland, the Polish fire department says it has so far recovered nearly a hundred tons of dead fish from the border river and the smaller Ner River. The cause of the fish kill in the Ner is unknown - as is the cause of the disaster in the Oder.

What is known: River epidemic spreads to other channels

Fish are dying in the Oder - some have also been discovered in the Ner: Countless dead fish are floating on the river - large lead, roach, asp - mostly white fish are decomposing in the water of the Oder. Since a few days dead fish have been discovered also in the Ner. In total, there are 97.95 tons, said the spokeswoman for the Fire Department headquarters in Warsaw on Tuesday. The majority of this is accounted for by the dead fish from the Oder River. The Ner is a small river that rises south of Lodz and flows into the Warta River. It has no connection with the Oder.

Disease spreads and moves towards Szczecin: Helpers in the German city Brandenburg (close to Berlin) also collected fish carcasses along the Oder River. The dead animals are destroyed in special incinerators. According to Polish authorities, dead fish have now also been found south of the port city of Szczecin in canals connected to the Oder River. This means that the contaminated waters are moving toward Szczecin, the head of the territorial administration for the West Pomeranian Voivodeship said Tuesday. North of Szczecin lies the Szczecin Lagoon. The Oder River flows into the lagoon, which at about 900 square kilometers is about twice the size of Lake Constance. Two thirds of it belongs to Poland. From there, water connections run to the Baltic Sea.

Ingo Kapuhs, a conservationist in Germany's only floodplain national park on the Oder River, is one of the volunteers who - equipped with rubber boots, landing nets and protective gear - pull tons of dead fish out of the river in sweltering heat. "I've never seen anything like this here," Kapuhs says. About 300 emergency personnel have been on the banks of the river for about 80 kilometers in the Märkisch-Oderland district since Saturday morning.The carcasses go into garbage bags, which are collected at several locations and then placed in containers. After the collection of the fish on Saturday, the disposal in the district Märkisch-Oderland is expected to continue on Monday.

In addition to the acrid smell of the decomposition of the fish, there is also the heavy work during the high temperatures of sometimes close to 35 degrees.

The poisoning situation that has now built up in the Oder River is an environmental disaster of unprecedented proportions. Tourism and the grazing and fishing industries have also been severely affected. Meticulous work continues to determine the cause. I such dark days in the history of nature and species conservation on the Oder, helping hands of civil society to limit worse is a good point.


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