the Oder River flows easily, quietly — it is a picturesque scene. But canoeists and anglers, who’re normally out and about, are nowhere to be seen. I am strolling alongside the river with Andreas Hein and Ingo Kaphus, rangers of the Decrease Oder Valley Nationwide Park. “If you happen to did not know what has occurred right here, you’ll suppose all the things is regular. The scent has vanished, too,” Hein tells me. “Till a number of days in the past, the river was lined with lifeless fish.”
Things seem almost normal here after the huge environmental disaster that caused a massive fish die-off. The story dominated headlines for days. Now, grey geese are resting on the floodplains, and a household of storks is flying overhead. Issues couldn’t appear extra peaceable. Loads of vacationers are additionally biking alongside the idyllic Oder-Neisse cycle path.
Tourism takes successful after fish die-off
The rangers inform me it’s too early to inform what impression the disaster could have in the long run. They hope that individuals won’t be deterred by the catastrophe and hold visiting the area.
Tons of dead fish have been recovered from the river since the beginning of August. The precise trigger for the die-off continues to be unclear. One doable rationalization is that the unfold of a poisonous algae precipitated the fish and mollusks to die.
The ecosystem will in all probability want years to regenerate. No much less arduous hit have been the folks of the area, particularly those that make their residing within the vacationer business. Firms renting out canoes are below stress, fishing is at the moment out of the query, and the variety of in a single day stays has plummeted.
With the 2 nationwide park rangers, I head for the close by statement tower, which is standard with cyclists. “It is quieter than typical, regardless that it is Sunday,” says Andreas. Climbing again down, I meet Nathalie and Thomas from Berlin, who’re simply locking up their bikes. They’re conscious of the environmental catastrophe, however that did not cease them from coming right here for a motorcycle tour. “Although we do not need to swim right here,” says Thomas.
Right now, no one is utilizing Frauke Bennett’s canoeing tools. As a substitute, paddles, security buoys and life jackets lie in her VW bus, together with her canine Babett watching over them. The canoe information would usually be out and about with certainly one of her teams at this time, exploring the river.
“However when this catastrophe made the information, I canceled all pre-booked excursions. Till I do know what’s in that river, I am not going to dip a toe in there,” says Bennett. She is bracing herself for robust instances forward and fears that with out monetary assiance, tour operators may exit of enterprise.
No urge for food for fish
Fisherman Helmut Zahn from Schwedt additionally fears critical penalties for tourism and the fish commerce. “In 40 years, I’ve by no means skilled a disaster of this magnitude,” he tells me as we sit in his backyard immediately on a tributary of the Oder.
Earlier than the catastrophe, Helmut Zahn bought recent fish to eating places and smoked fish at regional markets. Naturally, demand has evaporated.
“Even when the fish is ultimately declared protected — it nonetheless would not bode properly for fish gross sales,” he tells me. He says the die-off significantly broken the area’s popularity, although he maintains optimistic nonetheless: “Not all of the fish within the Oder have died, there should nonetheless be a whole lot of little ones in there.”
Everyone seems to be hoping that the reason for disaster will quickly be recognized and addressed. Many right here, nonetheless, fear the catastrophe may deter vacationers from visiting the area in the long term. Solely time will inform.
This text was translated from German.