Minister Julian Popov: A unified mechanism is needed for environmental and wildlife protection on the territory of sea beaches and national parks

23 Jan, 2024 | 18:23

It is necessary to summarise the legislative requirements about the obligations of all institutions in protection of the environment and wildlife and to increase the effectiveness of control and administrative-penal activities. This was stated by the Minister of Environment and Water Julian Popov at the meeting initiated by him on the establishment of a coordination mechanism in view of the legal powers of the various authorities. The meeting was attended by managers and experts from the National Nature Protection Service Directorate, the Regional Inspectorates of Environmental and Water in Varna and Burgas, the Rila, Pirin and Central Balkan National Parks, the Black Sea Basin Directorate and “Crimes against the Environmental and Wildlife” Sector at the Economic Police Department of the National Police Directorate General of the Ministry of Interior.

The MOEW has already prepared a legal analysis of the competences of the different units according to the legal framework. "It needs to be clear for each violation who is responsible for what and where legal changes are needed," said Minister Popov. The main objective, he noted, is to prevent construction, digging and commercial activity on the dunes along the Black Sea coast, to protect the national parks from the incursions of motorcycles, ATVs and snowmobiles, as well as the reserves and valuable habitats.

The stakeholders in the meeting discussed the problems with wild camping that the control authorities within the MОEW system are facing. Regarding the parking in areas with dunes, the Director of the Regional Inspectorate of Environmental and Water of Varna Ercan Ebatin related that they are looking for an option, jointly with the municipality of Shabla, to delineate a terrain where beachgoers can park their vehicles. More than 70 administrative offences were issued on the Northern Black Sea coast last summer season. The director of the Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Water in Burgas Pavel Marinov added that the unauthorized disposal of waste is also a serious problem. Michaela Dotsova, Director of the Legal Directorate at the Ministry of Environment, reminded of the “polluter pays” rule regarding waste.

Stoyan Stoyanov from the "Crimes against the Environment and Wildlife" sector of the Ministry of Interior suggested to the responsible regional inspectorates of environmental and the municipalities to install cameras that will help control authorities from all institutions. According to him, it is better for the district police offices, regional inspectorates, and municipal officials to organize preventive control - before the caravans are placed, in spring, because in summer they are already on the beach and it is much more difficult for the police to take measures. According to the experts from the sector, it is good to organise an awareness campaign before the start of the season about legal requirements and prohibitions.

According to the directors of the national parks the road barriers in the protected areas effectively stop cars. However, there is a serious problem with the control of two-wheelers, ATVs and snowmobiles in the high parts with altitudes above 1500 to 2500 m. Other problems in terms of control by the park rangers are related to poaching and immanence, for which it is necessary to improve the mechanisms for interaction with the authorities of the Ministry of Interior and the Executive Agency Forestry.

Work on the establishment of the coordination mechanism will continue with the involvement of representatives of other responsible institutions, such as the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works, the Ministry of Tourism, the regional governors of Dobrich, Varna, and Burgas, and the municipalities on whose territories the protected sites are located.