++ 20,000 people at this year's event on Drina River in Serbia ++ NGO's protested against damming the globally most important Huchen (Danube Salmon) River ++
22 July, 2017. Bajina Basta/Serbia. Yesterday, one of the biggest river events in Europe – the Drina Regatta – took place at the Drina River near Bajina Basta in Serbia. 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 for the first time in the 24-year history of the regatta.
The Drina is the most important lifeline for the Huchen (Hucho hucho) – a globally threatened fish species, which 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.
In protest of these plans, 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. The action was organized by NGOs from Bosnia & Herzegovina and Serbia with the support of international environmental groups, including Riverwatch and outdoor outfitter Patagonia.
“With this action we were showing to the participants of 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, the most important hotspot for the Huchen,” says Jelena Ivanić from the Center for Environment, main organizer of protest activity and Blue Heart partner.
“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 prove how attractive free river are to people. Try having a river regatta on a dam lake!” says Ulrich Eichelmann, coordinator of the Blue Heart campaign at Riverwatch.
- Find more information about the Huchen HERE
- The protest activity at the Drina Regatta was organized within the “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” campaign, which aims to protect the most valuable rivers in the Balkans. The campaign is coordinated by the NGOs Riverwatch and EuroNatur and carried out together with partner organisations in the Balkan countries. In Bosnia & Herzegovina, the local partner is Center for Environment.