In June 2019, fishermen from the Upper Vistula Valley and representatives of institutions and organizations executing the project went on a study visit to Hungary. The main purpose of the three-day trip was to present good practices in the protection of bird species and sustainable fisheries in Natura 2000 areas.
The participants of the study visit visited four fish farms located in the Sárvíz vӧlgye, Kis-Sárrét areas and Kӧrӧs-Maros National Park, where the pygmy cormorant is protected.
The first farm is Saregres Retimajor – an agricultural and fishing farm with an area of nearly 1200 ha. It was possible to observe on the pond complexes species rarely found in Poland – little egrets, Eurasian spoonbills, pied avocets, and black-winged stilts. This farm consists not only of ponds and fish farming, but is also involved in cattle and pheasant breeding, as well as food production – buffalo salami, fruits and vegetables. Then the participants went to the Inland Fisheries Institute and the Szarvas Fish farm. The last farm visited was the Halgazdaság fish farm in Biharugras raising in carp and silver carp, where the participants could observe other species of birds rarely found in Poland.
All the visited farms operate within protected areas. An excellent example of the protection of birds in ponds was the centre in Saregres Retimajor, where the farm is multifunctional – focused on the production of commercial fish, but also functions as an angling centre, educational centre, ornithological or recreational centre. The birds have good places to feed on the water bodies and nest on several islands in the largest ponds. The birds are not chased away from there because it would be burdensome for fishermen working on the ponds, anglers fishing in the fisheries and for ornithologists who come to admire the rare and protected bird species.
Similar to the fish farms located in Natura 2000 areas, where the LIFE.VISTULA.PL project is executed, also partners from Hungary are struggling with the problem of predation of the cormorants which feed on the breeding ponds.
In addition to establishing contacts with pond managers, the trip participants gained new experience and knowledge that can be used in fish farming in connection with the protection of bird habitats and the rational use of ponds in Natura 2000 areas.
The study trip to Hungary took place June 17-20, 2019 and was organized by the Society for Earth as part of the LIFE16 NAT/PL/000766 project “Protection of wetland bird habitats in the Upper Vistula Valley” (LIFE.VISTULA.PL).