The 19th Steering Group Meeting of the Priority Area 6 was held on July 4th, 2023 in a virtual format with the attendance of 21 participants. It was considered as an “extraordinary” meeting, as it was a follow-up of the 17th Steering Group Meeting to take up open questions in detail and discuss them further.
The key topic of the meeting was Danube sturgeons that have been identified as an umbrella and a flagship species for the Danube with high demand on habitats and migration corridors. Conservation of sturgeon populations is an issue for both the EU’s Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the EU’s Habitats Directive (HD) as well as the Bern Convention.
Sturgeon conservation in the Danube Basin involves the coordination of many intersectoral and transboundary issues and responsibilities for the measures needed for effective conservation are highly fragmented between countries, sectors, and levels of governance.
There is a strong need for establishment of an effective monitoring system that will be coherent through all countries of Danube basin and efforts need to be long-term and sustainable. Future steps need to be identified, as well as the way of support from regional and national authorities in the Danube Region.
It was agreed that discussion on this topic should be ongoing and there is a need for follow up meeting(s) with an enlarged group with participants from other delegations, water authorities and nature protection people, to discuss the scope of discussions in a possible future expert group with a view to arriving at a joint understanding of what needs to be monitored, by whom and how. Need for identification of governance gaps on national as well as at basin level (across borders).