On 2 July 2023, the city of Goleniów (Poland) organised a protest against the poisoning of the Ina River that took the form of a ‘black’ kayak trip. Participants – residents of Goleniów and friends of the river, as well as municipal authorities, local politicians and entrepreneurs – met on the stream’s banks to express their indignation at the ecological disasters repeated over the years in the catchment area of this beautiful river.
This year’s discharge of sewage into the Ina, caused by the poor operation of the treatment plant in Stargard (Poland), led to the death of fish along a stretch of around 60 kilometres of the river. The scale of the catastrophe came as a surprise to all those who deal with the Ina on a daily basis, run small businesses based on its potential or carry out restoration projects in its catchment area.
The latter group includes Rewilding Oder Delta and the mainstay of our organisation on the Polish side of the Szczecin Lagoon, the Friends of the Ina and Gowienica Rivers association. For many years we have been working together with the Municipality of Goleniów and others, including the West Pomeranian University of Technology (ZUT), University of Szczecin, water and forest administration, Polish Angling Association, “Gaia” Green Federation, West Pomeranian Nature Society (ZTP), Regional Office of Environmental Protection in Szczecin (RDOŚ), we have carried out activities to improve the ecological state of the Ina and its tributaries. These include:
– removing fish migration barriers, e.g. weirs, dams etc.,
– improving the biodiversity of the river catchment by restoring the sequence of rapids and spawning grounds in the Ina and its tributaries,
– planting trees along the river,
– construction of small tourist infrastructure,
– annual clean-up actions with the local community.
These activities have been possible in recent years thanks to the support of the Baltic Sea Conservation Foundation (BALTCF), European Outdoor Convservation Association (EOCA) and European Regional Development Fund (EFRR).
Given the long-standing activities for the well-being of the Ina catchment area and the region’s inhabitants, the June pollution of the river arouses our strong objection. Such incidents, recurring with every major rainfall, have a negative impact on the effects of many years of work done by the local community and organisations associated with the region.
From a rewilding perspective, a healthy river is not only a natural asset but also a base for the development of the local economy. The natural and clean Ina is the source of a wide range of ecosystem services. As such, we understand nature tourism (e.g., angling, canoeing, nature photography), water retention in the landscape, sustainable agriculture, and nutrient and CO2 emissions reduction.
We hope that the action in Goleniów will result in concrete actions by decision-makers on the issue of effective water protection, including the Ina catchment area, so both the local community and the visitors will be able to enjoy the charm of one of Pomerania’s most beautiful rivers.
Text: Magdalena Urlich
Translation: Agnieszka Soboń