"Fishing prohibited" is only one of the prohibitions listed on the board on the shore of the Prokoško Lake Nature Monument near Fojnica. Right next to the board, three fishing rods are immersed in the lake. One of the "fishermen" explains that "each fish has its own requirements".
We ask them if they often fish at the lake.
- Here and there - he says.
- But this sign says that fishing is prohibited?
- It is forbidden for those who make a massacre - he smiles.
He says he didn't see the board and continues talking about the baits he puts on the hook:
- They don't want bread, I'm fishing with ham... Sarajevo ham!
Besides him father and son. And they too with fishing rods. We also ask them if they know that fishing is prohibited on the lake:
-Professional fishing is prohibited, but recreational fishing is not - the father makes up in an instant:
- Although it should be, because there are Olm and Triturus, a protected species.
He is not afraid that he will take out a specimen of a protected species from the lake:
- No, no, they don't like this - he points to the balls they made from bread.
One of them even says that he has his own small lake, and the fish he catches with nets in Lake Prokoški are then transferred to his own lake.
It's a weekday and there aren't many local tourists on the lake. But in the days before that, they left a lot of garbage and clear traces of campfires. This is another prohibition that is violated every day in the Prokoško Lake Nature Monument. Although it is stated that lighting fires and grilling is allowed only in designated places, the circles of burnt earth testify that no one respects this rule.
There are not too many locals, but there are many tourists from Arab countries. In addition to nature, they are also attracted by the food here.
If you thought it was all about pie and cheese, this time you were wrong. Two men are negotiating with a shepherd in the meadow around the lake. They look around his flock of sheep and point their finger at one animal:
- Haruf, Haruf! (Eng. Lamb! Lamb!)
- Smell it, smell it... Drink milk... - the shepherd offers them.
They like it, they ask about the price - 300 KM. Tourists want to check that everything will be according to the agreement:
- You eat, baba... - the young man passes his finger over the door, to show that his father will slaughter the animal. Everyone looks very pleased.
Together they drag the animal to the car in which the father has also arrived in the meantime. They put it in the trunk, and the young man helps the customer with a cane to get into the front seat so that they can drive to the house where food will be prepared for his family.
When the tourists leave, we ask him if there are many customers:
- Every day - he tells us.
- We slaughter it, prepare it and bake it while they stay at the lake and come for lunch in a few hours.
Lake Prokoško was declared a natural monument in 2005. Seventeen years later, happy tourists in the first protection zone can rent quads and off-road motorcycles every day. As we talk to the people who live on the lake, the noise of different types of motor vehicles can be heard continuously. You can get to the very shore of the lake by car. Vehicles are charged ten KM, pedestrians two KM. Garbage is everywhere, but there are no trash cans. At the entrance to the monument, there is a full container with a pile of garbage around, there are even old mattresses. The waste collection vehicle comes only once a week - on Fridays.
Numerous new wooden houses were built around the shore of the lake. The owner of one of them tells us:
- All this is illegal here, only a small number of people who previously owned land and built houses have permits.
The municipality of Fojnica collects tax from illegally built buildings every year. Our interlocutor pays the annual land tax, tax for the cottage, garbage collection, and entrance to the monument area - the annual ticket per cottage is 80 KM.
Lake Prokoško has been far from a protected zone for years, even decades. The Law on Proclamation, as we have already written, was passed back in 2005, but how it was applied and implemented is best explained by the current state of the monument. At the end of April this year, the Assembly of the Central Bosnia Canton adopted amendments to the law from 2005. These amendments give the Ministry of Spatial Planning SBK the supervision over the implementation of the provisions and specify the legal regulations by which the cantonal inspectors should be guided when monitoring compliance with the measures.
The manager of the Nature Monument is PUK Šćona from Fojnica. Logically then, our first interlocutor should have been Šćona director Abas Nišić. In a casual tone, he invited us to breakfast in Fojnica "where we will solve everything". We weren't going to eat, but we wanted to talk. The breakfast was cancelled, and we were unable to arrange a new meeting. He didn't even have time for a phone conversation.
Minister of Spatial Planning Amir Šečibović (Democratic Action Party) is also very busy. He couldn't even find time for a short phone conversation either. And he would have to, because his ministry is in charge of supervising the Prokoško Lake Nature Monument, and because thanks to him and his colleagues, construction will soon be legalized.
Attached to this ministry is the Department for Environmental Protection, where inspectors are in charge of controls on the lake work. We asked them how often they go to that area, if they have observed any illegalities, and if they issue fines... we did not get an answer. While the inspectors are on annual leave, Prokoško Lake is falling apart.
The law on declaring Lake Prokoško a natural monument is clear: there are three protected zones and, depending on the zone, any kind of construction, grazing of animals, entry of motor vehicles, fishing, and lighting of fires is prohibited…
Instead of at least trying to protect what is left of this area now, the authorities will very likely legalize all the buildings built so far:
- To be honest, it's hard to say that someone will demolish it. Here, the law did not define it either. Any demolition and new procedure would lead to putting the soil in an unfavourable position. So I have to admit, I don't think anyone is going to tear it down. It can go in the direction of legalization. We in the Ministry have a prepared version of the law on legalization, we are looking for certain opinions to start a further procedure in order to put all illegal facilities under supervision and introduce them into the category of legal facilities - said Minister Amir Šečibović after the adoption of the amendments to the law.