The most important natural resource of the islands was fish. In spring, they were traditionally caught with large gill nets (multiple fish traps), fish traps and fish fences. In autumn, active traps were used.
A further naturally regenerated resource of the area was reed. It was traditionally harvest by hand in winter and met the personal requirements of the local populations. From 1965-1974, reed was mechanically harvested in large quantities, notably a total of 46300 t. After the extraordinary flood events of 1970, the reed stands was depreciatory as far as their economical use was concerned. From 1975-1979, the total annual reed production for both islands amounted to 8246 t (yearly average 2062 t), with a very low production of only 535 t in 1978.
Reed mace was among the most appreciated resource that could be harvest by hand and was used for articles such as mats, baskets, partition walls and for roof coverings. Along with reed, reed mace is a perfect heat insulator.
Willow or popular wood did not represent an economically significant resource, but large, well dried trunks were used as firewood. Large poplars were cut down with an ax and used for construction purposes.
Hunting was practiced to cover the needs of the local population, mainly ducks, geese and pheasants. Traps were used for wild boar, deer, muskrat and raccoon dog hunting.
Depending on elevation and flood duration, the soils were used in different manners. The only suitable sites for agricultural use were the embankments, the so called "grinduri" in the western border areas and the center of the islands, which served as pastures. With the increase of the local population, the soils on the embankments of both islands were cultivated with useful plants such as vegetables, potatoes and sweet-corn. Among the fruit trees, the quince revealed to be the most flood and salt tolerant. It flourished well and a few trees may still be found nowadays on the borders of the islands. Due to high soil salinity, a vine planting project on the western side stopped. The extremely small lots could only be cultivated when the Danube water levels at gauge Chilia and Peribrava did not exceed 4-5 hydrogrades.
SOURCE : IBIS TOURS BIRD-WATCHING SPECIALISTS