Przemysław Daca: Stop the destruction of the Masurian Lakes!

In Olsztyn, a meeting was held with the participation of representatives of Polish waters, VIEP, RDOŚ, local government, police, crisis management and fishermen, dedicated to cooperation to protect the Masurian rivers and lakes from destruction. This is a current problem, observed daily by Polish Waters employees and reported by residents. Only this year in the area of, among other things, The Masurian Lake District was deliberately destroyed 100 times

Employees of the water management office in Białystok observe violations of rivers and lakes almost daily during excursions. They also receive daily calls from concerned residents who report places where the coastline has been destroyed. Any such report will be field checked by us to confirm the facts. If it turns out that there has been a bank breach, the case will be referred to the police.

We cannot allow our beautiful Masuria to be destroyed. It is unacceptable and against the law to interfere with nature. This year alone, we have recorded more than 100 cases of illegal bridge construction, access to lakes or reed felling. Irresponsibility and stupidity have irreversible consequences for nature – said Przemysław Daca, president of Polish waters.

How is the Masurian nature destroyed?

Illegal works usually consist of dredging lakes, destroying coastal plants, mainly cutting reeds and trees above the water, building piers and strengthening the banks. A water permit is required for all activities of this type. If the work is done without consultation, the matter will be referred to law enforcement authorities. Pursuant to art. 475 of the Water Act, damage to or damage to the banks of inland waterways is punishable by a fine, restriction of freedom or imprisonment for a maximum of one year.

In recent months, illegal activities in Wojnowo (Ruciane-Nida Municipality) have destroyed the coastline of the Krutynia River and part of the reed beds. Illegal works were carried out in the protected areas: Natura 2000 – habitats of Ostoja Piska, Natura 2000 – bird areas of Puszcza Piska and in the Masurian Landscape Park.

A few hundred meters further, also in the village of Wojnowo, Polish Waters employees in Giżycko identified the works that consisted of deepening the channel leading to the Krutynia River. As a result of this work, the banks of the river and part of the reed beds have also been destroyed. In Szymonka (Municipality of Ryn), despite the notification to law enforcement authorities of illegal works on the construction of the port/marina, works are still ongoing. The port was connected to Lake Jagodne by a canal and the case of its illegal execution was reported to Poviat Police Station in Giżycko in March 2021. Despite the ongoing proceedings, the owner of the plot continues to work without permissions and permits, both on his plot and in the lake. Another example is the massive destruction of the shore of Zelwążek Lake near Mikołajki, where some of the aquatic plants, including several dozen trees that have been illegally felled, have been removed over a length of about 1 km. The place where the destruction took place is located in the protected natural area – “Great Masurian Lakes” and in the Natura 2000 area – “Mazurska Ostoja Żółwia Baranowo”.

Law Enforcers vs Destroyers

Many cases have already been convicted and the perpetrators have been fined. A fine of ten, twenty and ten thousand zlotys was imposed by the court in Pisz on three men for the destruction of the shore of Lake Roś. The men covered the coastal zone with rubble and sand to create a wild beach. One of them also illegally dredged the bottom of the lake. The District Court in Ełk has fined a man of two thousand zloty who ordered earthworks in the area of ​​Lake Woszczele, without the required water permit. The man built a gravel road, which created a breach in the lake shore.

It happens that penalties and small fines are included in the cost of illegal, often millions of zloty, works carried out on the banks of lakes and rivers. There are also cases where the law enforcement agencies deal with the illegal practice of environmental destruction without due consideration. An example could be the destruction of the shore of Lake Wierzbińskie (municipality of Orzysz), consisting of deepening the bottom of the lake, removing the reeds and roots with an area of ​​380 m2, and the destruction of reed beds on an area of ​​150 m2 by covering the lake with dredging material. The Orzysz Police Station decided to drop the investigation into the case. In her statement of reasons, she stated that the investigation was discontinued due to the lack of features of a prohibited act under Art. 17 §1 point 2 of the Code of Criminal Procedure This decision was also approved by the Pisz district public prosecutor’s office. Another example is the disclosure of the destruction of the shore of Lake Tałty (Mikołajki Mine). The police station in Mikołajki has also decided to stop the investigation. lack of characteristics of an act pursuant to art. 475 of the Water Act, and a violation under art. 131 point 13 of the Nature Conservation Act in connection with the violation of art. 125 of the same deed.

We must not allow the destruction of the natural environment

Any undue human interference with the shoreline can contribute to the deterioration of water quality and accelerate the degradation of the lake and its eutrophication. Removing the rushes will destroy the potential breeding grounds of many bird species and the habitats of other animal groups closely related to aquatic ecosystems, including fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and insects. The root system of the vegetation of the coastal zone acts as a natural reinforcement of the banks of water reservoirs, thus preventing processes of water erosion. The coastal zone, which is characterized by a variety of plant species, is invaluable for the quality of the water. The vegetation clears the water of phosphates, nitrates, heavy metals and other toxic substances for aquatic animals and provides oxygen to the bottom of water reservoirs, which is especially important in the case of small, shallow lakes.

The destruction of lake shores in most cases takes place within the boundaries of established forms of nature protection (landscape protected areas, Natura 2000 areas, landscape parks). It must be remembered that the destruction of the natural environment is often irreversible and is currently occurring on a large scale. Therefore, there is no permission from the Polish waters for the destruction of the Masurian landscape! Only working together to protect waters from destruction can deliver tangible results.

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