Information on the implemented training for conserving Cetaceans - clarifying information from the Green Balkans team

The seminar, which took place on July 31st is only the first of a series of events within the “Building capacities of Bulgarian Black Sea municipalities on Cetaceans strandings” Project, which is supported by the Secretariat of ACCOBAMS (Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and contiguous Atlantic area), not by the Ministry of Environment and Waters (which is the first inaccuracy of the publication). The TOTAL COST of the project is 12 700 euro and the project is for 8 months.

The project is a joint initiative of Green Balkans NGO and the MoEW and aims at resolving several issues, related to the high mortality of dolphins - one of the most significant problems challenging their survival:
- In cases of stranded dead dolphins, at present there is no clear “plan of actions”. The main aim of the project is finding an operational solution or a complex of solutions, where the relevant authorities (RIEW, Municipalities, Veterinarians, EAFA) cooperate until the successful resolution of the case and thus decrease the potential threat for the users of the beach.
- Improving the quality of the information gathered for the stranded Cetaceans - at present there is often not even accounting for the species stranded, what causes a number of errors in the reports which Bulgaria is obliged to submit as a member of ACCOBAMS. We therefore consider the improvement of the capacity of the municipal ecologists in terms of identifying the species, sex and other information for the stranded animals as a necessary step towards resolving this problem.

The project provides for a SERIES OF TRAININGS for the municipal ecologists on site, DEVELOPMENT OF GUIDELINES for reaction in case of stranded dead dolphins, PROVIDING OF ACTION KITS for processing stranded Cetaceans.

The one-day seminar already completed therefore cost NOT 24 000 BGN, but 1500 BGN (or 16 times less than the amount announced).
The seminar comprised a total of 22 representatives of 8 Black Sea municipalities, the Ministry of Environment and Waters (MoEW), the Executive Agency on Fishery and Aquacultures (EAFA) - Burgas, the Regional Inspectorates on Environment and Waters - Burgas and Varna, Green Balkans.

Improving the capacity of the municipal ecologists for gathering quality information on the stranded Cetaceans is implementing the provisions of the Plan for Conserving the Black Sea Cetaceans, approved by ACCOBAMS in 2007. Bulgaria, being a member state of the Agreement, has undertaken to implement a number of measures for studying and conserving Cetaceans in its waters.
We therefore categorically state that the resource provided by Green Balkans (through the project proposal submitted to ACCOBAMS) significantly contributes to the implementation of the undertaken state engagements. The actions for dolphin conservation, which have only recently started in Bulgaria, are an example of good cooperation between a NGO (Green Balkans) and the MoEW.

We find completely irrelevant all attempts for discrediting the efforts for improving the capacity of the municipal ecologists
(on whatever topic related to biodiversity conservation). We will continue to consider establishing capacities for nature conservation among our main priorities.

We leave aside the hints about “lack of point” in actions for conserving Cetacean species (among the mammals of highest conservation concern). We find such statements inappropriate in the context of the contemporary concepts for biodiversity conservation as well as the extreme efforts addressing this issue, as well as the legal engagements of the state.

Last but not least we state that the dissemination of misleading information is not in favour of any media, while attempts for misleading the public are improper and disgraceful.

Yours sincerely,
Green Balkans