Fish Migration Day highlights importance of restoring swimways for migratory fish

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To mark Fish Migration Day, we recently hosted a webinar to share experiences from different European projects with a focus on swimways restoration. The event brought together experts and enthusiasts to share and explore initiatives aimed at restoring and preserving migratory pathways for freshwater fish.

The Fish Migration Day celebration took place on 25 May, around the same date as the biannual World Fish Migration Day (the next of which takes place in 2024). The day marked an occasion to celebrate European regional river connectivity concerns and the importance of restoring migratory pathways for freshwater fish, also known as swimways. 

Various speakers involved in river connectivity concerns participated in the webinar, sharing their insights and expertise. Herman Wanningen from Dam Removal Europe presented the positive achievements of the dam removal community over the past year, including the removal of over 300 barriers. These efforts have contributed to enhancing waterway health and providing support for its dependent wildlife. Herman also showcased the Dutch Swimways Map, recognised as a valuable tool for identifying unobstructed river stretches and promoting the conservation of free-flowing rivers.  

Beate Striebel from WWF-CEE discussed the work of the EU’s “Danube Sturgeon Task Force”, stressing the importance of breaking down barriers and involving different stakeholders in river conservation and restoration. She presented a map of free-flowing river stretches for sturgeon along the Danube, outlining actions for implementing the Pan-European Sturgeon Action Plan.  

The Royal Dutch Angling Association shared their expertise with acoustic telemetry, whereby acoustic tags are monitor soundwaves and track the movements of individual fish. They are currently tracking the presence of sturgeon in the river Rhine.  

Niels Breve showed promising results with the release of 1.7 million European sea sturgeon (Acipenser sturio) individuals across Europe, demonstrating their efforts in supporting the recovery of this species.  

Sergiy Moroz from European Environmental Bureau (EEB) concluded the webinar with a policy update on the Nature Restoration Law and the #RestoreNature campaign. This update emphasised the crucial mission to safeguard and revitalise our natural ecosystems, which is reflected in the target to make at least 25,000 km of rivers free-flowing and protect migratory freshwater fish. 

The online event showcased the collective commitment of organisations and individuals across Europe to remove barriers, reestablish free-flowing rivers and protect migratory freshwater fish. The Trans-European Swimways Network is a community and hub for working towards these goals. Together, we can ensure the health of wetlands and their remarkable inhabitants. Participants also discussed practical actions, monitoring, barrier removal and networking opportunities, including those related to the Nature Restoration Law, the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, and the Blue Deal initiative.