Animals across the globe fly, swim, walk or drift in their effort to find places to breed, feed or just a more hospitable climate. Often unseen, but of major importance for functioning freshwater ecosystems, fish migrate and use rivers as natural highways. But most of them are blocked. Roughly 1.3 million obstructions in Europe hinder fish, and many other freshwater species, from their natural migration. Imagine a sky full of nets preventing birds from traveling to and from their wintering grounds.
On World Fish Migration Day, 17 organisations including Wetlands International – European Association release a joint statement identifying actions to unblock swimways:
- Enable fish to migrate!
- Remove old and obsolete dams from rivers
- Reduce the number of obstructions (1.3 million) that block migration pathways across Europe.
- Retrofit existing hydropower plants and pumping stations with state-of-the-art fish protection and fish passes
- Halt planning permissions for new small hydropower plants (less than 1 kW).
Many migratory fish are critically endangered or locally extinct. It is time for a comprehensive approach that takes into consideration all anthropogenic impacts under an effective enforcement of the EU Water Framework Directive and the Habitats Directive and the Eel Regulation to save our natural heritage, cultures, traditions, and preserve aquatic biodiversity.
Download the full statement below.
Joint Statement World Fish Migration Daydownload
Header image © Frode Kroglund